Diabetes: It’s More Than Blood Sugar

“What’s your blood sugar?” “How’s your A1C?”

Blood glucose monitorWhen we talk about diabetes, we usually put most of the emphasis on blood sugar or blood glucose. That’s no surprise since blood glucose can jump or plummet quickly, changing the way you feel from one hour to the next. Without a doubt, if you have diabetes, monitoring and managing your blood glucose is critical. But equally important is tending to the health of your heart and blood vessels.
Unfortunately, having diabetes at least doubles your risk of heart troubles. That’s a scary-sounding statistic, but there is good news, as well. There is a lot you can do to protect yourself, and many of the things you do to control your blood sugar – eat well, exercise, take medications – also protect your heart. I teach my patients the ABCs of diabetes care.

A: A1C – a measure of blood sugar control for two to three months

B: Blood Pressure

C: Cholesterol (and triglycerides)

Below are the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) recommended target goals for A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol. However, everyone is different and everyone’s diabetes is different, so you must discuss individualized goals with your healthcare team.

Measurement ADA Goal
A1C < 7%
Blood glucose 80 – 130 mg/dl before meals
< 180 mg/dl 1 – 2 hours after beginning the meal
Blood pressure < 140/90 mmHg
LDL cholesterol < 100 mg/dl (not a target, but a value suggesting lower risk)
HDL cholesterol > 40 mg/dl for men
> 50 mg/dl for women
(not targets, but values suggesting lower risk)
Triglycerides < 150 mg/dl (not a target, but a value suggesting lower risk)

Often people with diabetes put energy into one of the ABCs at the expense of the others. A healthy future requires that you to manage all three, but sadly less than 20% of Americans with diabetes have each of the three at target levels, Here are a few things you can do right now.

  • If you don’t already know, call your physician’s office to learn what your blood glucose target is for various times of the day.
  • Ask if your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are in control.
  • Meet with a registered dietitian nutritionist to develop a personalized meal plan.
  • Use less salt and more herbs and spices in cooking.
  • Choose lower-sodium packaged foods, and use only half of a salty seasoning pack.
  • Cook more foods from scratch.
  • Spread a trans fat-free tub margarine instead of butter.
  • Sauté in cooking oils instead of butter, lard and other solid fats.
  • Eat more vegetarian meals.


Taking control of all aspects of your diabetes puts you in charge of your health now and in the years to follow. Now what is more empowering than that?

And to make it simpler, keep track of your appointments and tests in this yearly diabetes health schedule.

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Jill Weisenberger

I'm Jill, and I believe simple changes in your mindset and health habits can bring life-changing rewards. And I don't believe in willpower. It's waaaay overrated. As a food-loving registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes care and education specialist and certified health and wellness coach, I've helped thousands of people solve their food and nutrition problems. If you're looking for a better way to master this whole healthy eating/healthy living thing or if you're trying to prevent or manage diabetes or heart problems, you'll find plenty of resources right here.

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  1. […] mere 30 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrate per serving – a boon to dieters and to people with diabetes,” says Jill Weisenberger MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, […]

  2. Chris Pederson on October 26, 2020 at 12:06 pm

    I like how you said that taking control of your diabetes will put you in charge of your health. It seems like a good idea to get help from a professional dietitian to achieve this. They can help you get through this struggle and control your life faster.

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Hi there! I'm Jill, a nutrition & diabetes expert and the author of 4 books.

Jill Weisenberger

I believe simple changes in health habits can bring you life-changing rewards.

And I believe willpower is way overrated.

Right here is where you can discover the mindset and habits to stick with healthy lifestyle choices most of the time - and drop the guilt when you don't.

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