New CGM Brings Old “Factors” Back Into Play

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Oh, I ache! There’s a small area between the desk, filing cabinet, and a chair that seems to collect “stuff.” Things fall off the desk and on top of the filing cabinet. Things get tossed back there. Occasionally, the area gets neatened up, but not cleaned out. For some reason, I got an urge to clean it out.

OK, I lost something and was trying to find it.

I haven’t yet found what I’m looking for, but I have found: a couple of infusion sets for my insulin pump; six boxes of glucose test strips; a case containing a meter and poker (but no strips to match); a box with shower gel, some ear buds, and a couple of things I don’t even know the function of; a couple of way out-of-date sensors for a Dexcom continuous glucose monitor (CGM); and more. It’s turned into an outright treasure hunt.

And speaking of CGMs, I got a new one. I started with a Dexcom pretty much when it first came out. That one worked well, but the second generation Dex didn’t work so well. Therefore, when the FreeStyle Navigator was released to the public, I switched over to that one.

My Navigator was great. I’d probably still be using it if the company hadn’t stopped supporting it. Word is they were having manufacturing problems and reimbursement problems. I wouldn’t doubt they were having US Food and Drug Administration approval problems, too. (It seems that just about everything is these days: All kinds of diabetes-related products that have been approved in other countries can’t seem to make it through the bureaucratic morass that’s the FDA. Including an insulin pump I have my eye on for my next one.)

My new, third-generation, Dex arrived Friday, and I hooked up Sunday evening. So far, so good, so I’m a happy camper.

Interestingly, when I closed myself in the bedroom (that would be sans cats, who were vying to “help” me when I tried it at the dining room table) to insert the sensor, I found my hands and fingers automatically going through the motions. In no time at all, and with only a passing glance at one of the instructions, the sensor was in, the transmitter clicked on, and I was on my way.

Because I have a new CGM, I’m paying a lot more attention to where my numbers are going and am finding that I’ve been letting my attention to detail slide regarding portion sizes and amount of carbohydrates ingested.

It’s back to actually counting, measuring or weighing foods instead of using the “eyeball method.” (“Yeah, that looks like about 15 grams of carbs there…”)

Perhaps it’s even back to calculating carbohydrate factors (which I really should be doing all of the time). For a more in-depth explanation of carb factors, go here.

The short version is that only a percentage of foods contain carbohydrates. To figure out the carb factor on foods that have nutrition labels, simply divide the grams of carbohydrate in one serving by the weight, in grams, of one serving. Those amounts will be on the nutrition label. Using a gram scale, weigh the amount of food you’ve chosen to eat and multiply the weight of your serving by the resulting percentage. That’s how many carbs are in your serving.

Some foods, such as fresh fruit, don’t come with nutrition labels. My gram scale makes it easy by calculating the carb factor for me. All I have to do is prepare the food — i.e., peel the banana (carb factor of 20%), core and slice the apple (carb factor of 13%), etc. — put it on the scale, and pull up the name of the food from the stored list. Voila! Carbs!

Don’t have a fancy gram scale? You can find a list of thousands of foods here. Search for the food you want, choose a serving size of 100 grams, divide the number of carbs by 100 (or move the decimal point two numbers to the left), and you’ll have a carb factor for that food.

By weighing and measuring all of the ingredients, you can even figure out carb factors for your favorite homemade dishes. Don’t forget to write the carb factor down the first time and post it in a convenient place (the inside of a kitchen cabinet door, perhaps) so it will be there the next time.

Yep. I think it’s back to carb factors for me. The graph on my CGM looks like an elevation map of the Himalayas. Just as soon as I have lunch with a friend today. We’re meeting at a Chinese restaurant.

Hmmmm…maybe I should put my gram scale in my scooter basket. Just for the rice, you understand.

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