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Publication #FCS8811

Healthy Living: Checking Blood Glucose1

Jennifer Hillan and Linda B. Bobroff2

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Checking your blood glucose levels is an important part of managing diabetes. Knowing your blood glucose values tells you how well your care plan is working and if any changes should be made. Read on to learn more!

Who Should Check

Anyone with diabetes can benefit from checking blood glucose, especially if you:

  • Take insulin or pills for diabetes.

  • Have a hard time controlling blood glucose.

  • Have severe low blood glucose levels or ketones from high blood glucose levels.

  • Have low blood glucose without the usual warning signs.

When to Check

Your health care provider will tell you how often and when to check your blood glucose. Here is a guideline for the best times to check your blood glucose.

  • Before eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or a meal-size snack).

  • 2 hours after eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or a meal-size snack).

  • Before going to bed for the night.

  • At 2 or 3 a.m. (if you are awake).

How to Check

To check your blood glucose, you stick your finger with a special needle, called a lancet. This will give you a drop of blood to put on a test strip. The test strip goes into a blood glucose meter, which is a small machine that “reads” your blood glucose. Use the following steps to properly check your blood glucose.

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water and dry thoroughly.

  2. Put a test strip into your meter.

  3. Stick the side of your fingertip with a lancet.

  4. Gently squeeze your finger until you get a drop of blood.

  5. Put the blood on the test strip and follow the meter's instructions to get the reading. (If you have trouble getting blood, wash your finger with warm water, hold your hand down, or squeeze your finger.)

Note: Some meters let you test other areas, such as your upper arm, forearm, base of thumb, or thigh, but it's best to use your fingertip when you suspect low blood sugar.

Keeping Track

Keep a log of your blood glucose. This will help you see how food, activity, and stress can affect your levels. Take your log with you when you see your health care provider. Use this table, or ask your diabetes health care team for a log. If your blood glucose is often too high or too low, your health care provider may need to change your diabetes plan.

Table 1. 
Date and Time





2 or 3 a.m.

(if awake)














Your Plan

Ask your health care provider for your target blood glucose levels and when to call your diabetes care team. Keep a copy of this information with your medications and a copy in your wallet or purse.

Table 2. 


Before meals: _____________________ 2 hours after meals: ________________

At bedtime: _____________________

Other times and goals: _____________________________________________________

When to call your diabetes care team:

Important telephone numbers:



La versión en español de este documento es Vida Saludable: Examinando su Glucosa en la Sangre (FCS8811-Span).This document is FCS8811, one in a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611. First published: October 2006. Revised June 2010. Please visit the EDIS website at


Jennifer Hillan, MSH, RD, LD/N, former ENAFS nutrition educator, and Linda B. Bobroff, PhD, RD, LD/N, professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.