Diabetes prevents your body from properly reducing and managing your blood sugar (glucose) levels. Doctors often recommend that people with diabetes or glucose problems monitor their blood sugar. This helps keep your numbers within a healthy target range. It also helps your doctor identify when a treatment plan is no longer successful.

To be most effective, you’ll need to check your blood sugar levels multiple times each day. These numbers — along with a record of what you eat and the activities you do — will help your doctor understand how your body is responding to treatment.

Take your blood sugar log with you to each doctor’s appointment. Together, you and your doctor can find a plan and a course of treatment that best suits your needs and lifestyle.

The information in your blood sugar log can be helpful if you’re trying to understand a problem or find a treatment. Keep the following tips in mind when you begin your blood sugar log.

Give context to the numbers. If you’re monitoring your blood sugar because of problems you’ve experienced recently, document as much as you can to explain your blood sugar level.

You should include:

  • the time of day you tested your blood sugar
  • what you ate and drank prior to checking your blood sugar level
  • any symptoms or signs of blood sugar problems you’ve experienced recently
  • your current stress level
  • any physical activity you’ve completed that day

Watch for patterns. Your blood sugar levels may provide the first hint of a problem. Monitor your numbers for a changing pattern. If your blood sugar level has been too high or too low for several days in a row, try to identify behaviors that may be contributing to those numbers.

At your next appointment, show your doctor the pattern. Work with them to find a solution that might explain the numbers.

Test at the same time. If possible, check your levels at the same time each day. Ideally, test an hour or two before a meal and right before you go to bed. This allows you to see how your body responds to meals and activities. If you give yourself insulin injections, include how many insulin units you take.

Your doctor may conduct several routine health screenings and blood tests in a year. They’ll keep a record of these numbers, but you should also keep these numbers handy. Write them in your blood sugar log with a date.

Tests to track include:

  • A1C
  • blood pressure
  • cholesterol

Other elements to track include:

  • weight
  • dental exam and cleaning
  • eye exam
  • flu shot
  • pneumonia shot
  • kidney check
  • stress test

Most people with diabetes or blood glucose problems will benefit from monitoring their blood sugar levels. But your doctor may not think it’s necessary. Talk to your doctor before you begin a detailed log.

You may benefit from logging your blood sugar if you’re:

  • taking insulin to control your diabetes
  • having a hard time controlling your blood sugar levels
  • beginning a new treatment plan
  • experiencing unexplained problems with low blood sugar levels
  • developing ketone bodies as a result of persistent high blood sugar levels
  • pregnant

Using a notebook, calendar, or pre-made record page is up to you. Find a device that works well for your lifestyle. You’ll need to carry the log with you, so a smart phone app or small notebook may be best.

Many doctors’ offices, hospitals, and diabetes counseling facilities offer record books. The more convenient it is, the more likely you are to use it regularly and correctly.

Your blood sugar level may trigger an emotional response. This is especially true if you’re having a hard time managing your levels. You may feel frustrated, angry, or scared if you see your levels increase despite your best efforts to manage the number.

Don’t judge yourself by the number you see on the blood glucose monitor. A high number doesn’t mean you’ve failed at managing your diabetes. But it might mean you need to discuss a new approach with your doctor.

Whatever you do, don’t grow frustrated with your numbers. Instead, work to correct them.