You're More Than Your A1C! Thinking Beyond Your Numbers
Last updated: March 2022
If you weren’t good at math or didn’t like numbers before, you sure are going to get comfortable with them after being diagnosed with diabetes. Besides multiple blood sugar checks a day, your physician will also be looking at your blood pressure numbers, weight and A1C numbers. It is important for you to remember that you are more than numbers, though! And even though it may seem like your physician doesn’t realize that, he or she does!
Why is my doctor so concerned with numbers?
Your physician’s number one job is to monitor your health and make the best recommendations he or she can to help you be the strongest, healthiest version of you. It may seem like your doctor is always checking the chart, asking about your daily blood glucose levels, and monitoring your weight, but this is actually the best way for the doctor to gather the data that tells him or her how your body is doing. Physicians are encouraged to look at the entire patient. Not just your lab values, weight and diet. Quality of life can greatly impact how well controlled your diabetes may be. Be sure to speak with your physician if you are struggling with depression or feeling overwhelmed with the care of your diabetes.
What does the A1C test check for?
The American Diabetes Association recommends that you have an A1C level checked at least twice a year, but often individuals will have one every three months. The A1C, or Glycosylated hemoglobin A1C test, measures your blood sugar levels on a long-term basis. Glucose attaches itself to hemoglobin, which is found in red blood cells." The higher the percentage of glycated hemoglobin, the higher the blood glucose levels were over the past ninety-day period."1 This gives your physician a better idea of your blood sugar levels from day to day, and adding that to your blood glucose diary may help piece the puzzle together so your doctor can recommend changes in your diet, medication or physical activity regimen. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists recommends that people with diabetes shoot to achieve an A1C level of 6.5 or less.1
Be kind to yourself + the A1C test
Did you know that sadness and depression issues have been linked to poor blood glucose control and therefore increased diabetes complications?2 Psychological studies have been done demonstrating that people who show themselves compassion can help to decrease diabetes related stress, which may lead to better glucose control. Many people with diabetes feel that each time they check their blood glucose level is a chance for failure. Multiply that by four (or more) times a day, seven days a week, and that is a lot of chances to get down on yourself. Ideally, you should be able to treat yourself as you would a loved one by showing compassion, forgiving and being kind. One study found that by showing more self-compassion, “Participants in the treatment group showed notable decreases in symptoms of depression and distress, and their A1C levels were significantly reduced by an average of nearly 1%.”2
Do you find it difficult to "eat right" and stick to a nutrition plan?