Hanna Hyvaerinen wears a CGM to help manage blood sugar while living with gastroparesis

Despite getting advice suggesting a diet of simple carbs, she realized that making more blood sugar friendly choices helped her feel better all around.

Member Profile:

Who: Hanna Hyvaerinen, 32
Where: San Francisco, CA
Time with Levels: One year, periodically
Most Useful Takeaway: Habitual eating and boredom had her eating too frequently, so she made sure to leave three hours between each small meal.

What was your health like before using Levels?

I’ve had gastrointestinal problems since childhood. So, I’ve been on different elimination diets to manage my symptoms. A couple of years ago, my sister was diagnosed with gestational diabetes when she was pregnant. Last year, my dad was diagnosed with diabetes. He had been prediabetic for years but never received any guidance on stopping it from progressing beyond advice to “lose weight” or “eat better.” When it came to my health and what my family history meant for me, I thought there might be something going on here.

What made you want to put a CGM on your arm? 

I was curious how these diet changes I continually make for my health conditions affected my blood sugar. When you’re so focused on one aspect of your health—my GI symptoms—you don’t get a holistic picture of how a particular food works for other pieces of your health. After seeing a post from Kelly LeVeque on Instagram, I signed up for Levels right away.

What were some of the surprising learnings from wearing the CGM?

I could see that I was eating too quickly and too often. This habit did not allow my body to digest food properly. Mostly, it was from being bored or being near food. So, looking at my Levels data helped me become more aware of how frequently I ate. Now, I pretty solidly eat every three hours. Adding to the complexity is that I have gastroparesis (a condition that affects the stomach’s ability to empty food), so I have to eat small meals.

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What non-food factors did you find influenced your blood sugar?

My worst blood sugar spike came from anxiety. I was in bed and had this flash that I forgot something important. Seeing that rise was eye-opening. You hear about how stress affects you in various ways, but that was the first time I saw my spike and crash charted out. Now I know that my blood sugar responds very strongly to stress, and using the CGM helps remind me about the importance of stress management.

Also, if I didn’t sleep as well one night, it was much more challenging to control my blood sugar. I find that I want to eat when I’m tired and make poorer food choices. But feeling like eating chocolate in the morning doesn’t make it a good choice.

Has the CGM changed how you managed your GI conditions?

If you look at gastroparesis guides, the advice is to eat a diet heavy on simple carbs. The idea is that these are easier to digest. But I didn’t want to eat a lot of bread or crackers because that didn’t make me feel good—and it didn’t look good for my blood glucose responses, either. Over time, I had to figure out the right balance. What does my body say? I’m learning to tune into my body even more now. Using the CGM helped me gain back my body’s trust.

I plan to wear the CGM every couple of months to check in and make sure that what I’m doing is still working for me. I want to follow my long-term trends. If I see more blood sugar dysregulation, I know I will want to address that early on. Diabetes can be hard to manage, and with my family history, I know I have to keep it on my radar.