[Click below to listen to an audio version of this article]
Who: Aimee L., 43
Where: Marina, California
Time with Levels: Four months, on and off
Most Useful Takeaway: Knowledge is power in blood sugar regulation. Knowing my glucose response to various foods throughout the day empowers me to make choices that help me reach my health goals.
1. What was your health like before using Levels?
I have a long history of breast cancer in my family. Because of that, I’ve always tried to be a little more health-minded. Last February, I attended a health fair for work. They run quick health tests there. My blood sugar reading was really high. I’ve never been someone to run to a doctor for support because of my experience with my mom’s health. She has diabetes. For her, going on more medications hasn’t helped her in all the ways that you think it would. My goal for myself is to avoid pharmaceuticals.
2. What made you want to put a CGM on your arm?
My dad had been in hospice. He passed away at the end of March. At that point, I felt like I could go back to focusing on myself and my health. The blood sugar reading made me nervous.
I started researching how I could get my hands on a CGM, and I knew it wouldn’t be easy. After Googling, I found Levels. While waiting for my CGM to arrive, I also joined a workout program tailored to the petite body and strength training, and I hired a nutrition coach.
3. What did you learn right away about your eating habits? Were you surprised by your glucose response to certain foods?
Before the CGM came, I was focused on eating more protein, as I had been eating primarily plant-based but knew I lacked protein. (A personal trainer told me I was eating way too little protein for my goals.) I started to incorporate meat back into my diet. I learned when the CGM came how important balance is—to consume a carbohydrate with a healthy fat and protein source. I realized I needed to have all three together. A past meal might have been a variety of vegetables cooked in ghee or olive oil. Now, I will have meat (turkey, chicken, or grass-fed beef) or salmon with vegetables and avocado or nuts.
The first week I wore the CGM, we were on vacation in Yosemite. We had eggs and potatoes for breakfast at the hotel. I saw this huge spike and thought, whoa, all I had was a few pieces of potato. I’ve since learned about the trick of cooking potatoes the day before and then reheating them to modulate my blood sugar response.
Bananas also surprised me. I know many people spike with bananas, but I do well with them as long as they’re a little underripe.
I lost 20 pounds in the first few months of using the CGM by keeping my glucose under 125 mg/dL. The first month was rocky as I discovered how some foods negatively impacted my blood sugar, but after that initial month, I set a goal to keep glucose under 125 mg/dL and found it made a big difference for me.
4. What non-food factors, such as exercise or sleep, influenced your blood glucose?
I notice that my hormones influence my blood glucose levels. I see this during the last week of my cycle. It almost doesn’t matter what I eat because I will spike. From reading the content on Levels, I’ve learned that fluctuations in my hormones impact insulin sensitivity. I’m still trying to make sure I get to a more stable place. One thing I’m experimenting with is cutting out fruit. Earlier in my cycle, I’m okay with eating fruit with breakfast, but before my period, even just a little bit of fruit creates a problem for me.
5. Your family members have also used a CGM. Have they had a similar experience as you?
My mom has diabetes. She’s tried to get a CGM, but insurance has denied her multiple times. My mom saw the data that I was getting from Levels and decided to pay full price for a CGM. She can get a little bit of a discount from Costco to help with the cost. She’s in the process of learning about her body and her diet. It’s great to be able to share that experience.
My sister also wore one. It’s interesting because my sister’s reaction and my reaction to a particular food are opposite. Unfortunately, she got discouraged and took hers off. I will say that you’ve got to stick with it. It takes time to make changes, but you have to hang in there while figuring it out. I encourage people who are struggling when wearing it and seeing readings they’re not happy with to work on it. Get the support around you to make good changes happen. I’ve seen what diabetes has done to my mom’s body, and it hasn’t been good.