Who: Meghan Linvill McNab, 38
Where: Nashville, TN
Time with Levels: 1.5 years
Most Useful Takeaway: Even incidental exercise, like puttering around the home or attending her daughter’s soccer games on the weekends, helped her achieve more stable blood glucose responses.
What was your health like before Levels?
My dad has a history of diabetes, which has always been a big concern for me. Still, I’ve been healthy over the past 15-20 years. In fact, about seven years ago, I really started to dial in my workouts and nutrition. Wanting to take things to the next level, I did a Whole30. To my shock, after a month of Whole30, I went in for bloodwork and discovered I was borderline prediabetic. I hadn’t been eating a single processed grain. My only carbohydrates were fruits and vegetables. That prompted me to reassess what I was eating. Two bananas per day and date-and-nut bars clearly didn’t agree with my body. Once I got that under control, my numbers returned to healthy levels.
What made you want to put a CGM on your arm?
It’s a genuine curiosity about my body. Over the years, I’ve tried different elimination diets or at-home testing like gut microbiome tests. Now, I was at a place where I had to approach carbs differently. It was about more than simply avoiding processed carbs. I thought that the CGM could offer me better insight there. After running across the Levels Blog, I dove into all the information.
What foods provide you with a consistently even blood sugar response, and what foods cause spikes?
I learned quickly that quinoa impacts my blood glucose quite a bit. Sweet potatoes and dried fruits do as well. Oatmeal raises my blood sugar, but not as much. So, I try to add chia seeds with my oats and replace quinoa with riced cauliflower to keep my responses more even.
One of my go-to meals is a protein smoothie. I started taking glutamine, an amino acid supplement, for digestive issues. By watching the CGM, I found that taking glutamine before or with my smoothie substantially blunts my blood sugar response.
In addition, I try to stick with salads with meat as my protein source. I’ll pile on lots of greens and whatever vegetables we have–e.g., tomatoes, sprouts–topped with a bit of dressing or avocado. Meat includes chicken or steak. My husband loves to smoke meat, and we’re always on the hunt for good recipes that don’t contain sugar, though it can be challenging. If there’s sugar in the rub or sauce, I’ll cut the skin off and eat the meat.
How do non-food factors affect your blood sugar?
During the weekdays, I sit at a desk all day. So I was amazed on the weekends when I was up cleaning the house, attending my daughter’s soccer game, or taking an intentional walk at how big of a difference it made in my blood glucose levels.
I still work out often, doing strength classes during the week and higher-intensity workouts on the weekend. My gym is involved in fun competitions, such as a one-mile bike challenge to see who has the fastest time. I have yet to win that, but that particularly pulls at my heartstrings. I’m trying to learn more about how my body responds to food before a workout. Sometimes, I’ll have a spike in blood sugar as I fuel up before exercise, and I’m trying to learn how that affects my performance that day and metabolic health over the long run.
What are your health goals moving forward with the CGM?
I plan to wear the CGM periodically. I did notice that when I wore it, I’d feel pressure to eat ideally and would get frustrated if I didn’t get a perfect score instead of using it as an opportunity to continue to test different foods and activities to refine my knowledge of what works best for my body.
My goal is to find that happy medium where I recognize that having some spikes is a part of life and part of the learning process. It might be okay to have one spike a day, but overall I have to know I’m doing okay. That’s the perspective I want to grow into.
Overall, my goal is to extend grace to my body. Over the years, I’ve had a rollercoaster relationship with my weight, food, and fitness. I’m finally getting to a place where I’m enjoying these things and not putting too much pressure on myself to eat only a certain way or a certain amount. It’s about eating what makes me feel good and not because of internal or external pressures. There have been ups and downs with this journey, which the CGM has been a part of, but my big-picture goal is to stay within the middle of my range and to be consistent.