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Scott Johnson


July 26, 2013

Barbecues and Blood Sugars: Can your monster help you survive?

July 26, 2013 | By | 4 Comments

Ahhh – summertime barbecues. Just chilling with friends and family, enjoying some great food, and taking in the wonderful weather. It’s one of my favorite summertime activities. But it can be a real challenge to keep my blood sugars from going crazy. So many of the carbs are hidden and I can never remember what I did the last time.

No food labels in the backyard barbecue pits

There are many situations where I have to estimate the carbs. But even that is often pretty hard. Most of the time I just guess and have to fix my blood sugar later. But that’s a real pain.

Dealing with a low in the middle of an intense game of yard darts (are those even legal anymore?) is dangerous, and feeling sluggish from a sticky high is no fun either. Why should I let diabetes mess up my afternoon?

There has to be a better way.

Logging and tracking?

What if I took pictures of everything I ate and logged my carb guesses and insulin doses along the way? What if I also recorded my blood sugars and activity notes?

If I did this often enough I would have a pretty nice database full of useful information. And if I have quick and easy access to that information it might help me make better decisions about what to eat or how much insulin to take.

But there are (at least) two challenges here, right? The system has to be easy and quick to enter information, and just as easy, if not easier, to search and retrieve information.

mySugr Companion – perfect fit!

Quick and easy entry? Check. Beautiful and fun interface? Check. Pictures? Check (what paper logbook can do that?). Super easy search function? Check. Location aware? Check!

Imagine being able to look at a few things really quickly. I can see that for all of the logbook entries I made that have the word barbecue, I did a pretty good job. Looking at the pictures helps me judge the food and servings I’m dishing up, and I can see that every time I eat barbeque at uncle George’s house my blood sugar goes through the roof! He must be adding something sweet to the barbecue sauce… now I know to take a bit more insulin before enjoying his ribs.

It has to be accessible, and FAST.

I know that my diabetes management is better when I’m logging. The act of recording influences my decisions, maybe even making me a little more responsible.

What mySugr Companion brings to the table is the information I record is no longer a dead pile of paper (that is difficult to search through). In the palm of my hand I have super quick and easy access to everything I’ve recorded, and it’s searchable.

It allows me to make better decisions – right there in the moment. That is powerful.



  1. gerri häfele

    i know this problem quite well and i solve it normally with splitting the insuline-dose. Because i’am an android-user i don’t have mySugr, i’m still waiting for the android version!. I say this once again i know…

  2. Hi Gerri!

    Great feedback – I’ve taken a similar approach by using an extended or combo bolus on my pump. Sometimes I get the portions split wrong (either too much insulin right away and I’m low, or too little and I’m high).

    We’re getting closer with the Android version. I know everyone is anxiously awaiting it. Our guys are working furiously to get it out to you.


  3. I understand the problem the app is trying to solve but I’m skeptical. I have found that the amount of carbohydrates in a meal can NOT be easily eye balled. My sister-in-law’s lasagna is nothing like my wife’s even when they share recipes. I don’t eat at chain restaurants (maybe once per quarter( and the local restaurant menus change often enough that building up a database is nearly impossible. I guess if I ate like an American, frozen/package foods and chain restaurants, this might work but … I just don’t see a way to have any control unless the food is home made. Going out to dinner is something I dread. Eating at someone’s home is also something I dread. it means watching my BG either drop to the floor (and hopefully I don’t) or rocket into space.

    Perhaps I’m just burn’t out from all of this. I have a CGMS now and I know have a better understanding of what’s going on before and after each meal but … it hasn’t helped improve control at all.

  4. Scott Johnson

    Good points, Khürt, thank you.

    I agree totally about the eye balling. I think it’s maybe more of a contextual thing. As in adding context to the data you’re collecting. You used a perfect example – the lasagna at your sister-in-law’s versus lasagna your wife made.

    Logically, it makes NO sense, right? They used the SAME RECIPE! It should be the SAME, right? But you know from your experience that you react differently depending on who made it. What if that was one of the things you noted as you recorded your food details? It might still take a couple of times to put the pieces together, or to remember to look at what happened.

    The ability to quickly and easily query your logbook for keywords (I type a human friendly name in the location field (Home, Gym, Mark’s, etc) for just this reason) is a powerful tool.

    I think the picture aspect of it comes into play when you are dealing with a similar, but maybe not exact, food. You can compare portion sizes and carb guesses from your past and see what your blood sugar did, then use that information to make a slightly more informed guess for the current situation.

    In the end though, you’re right, it comes down to trial and error – we’re the ultimate human guinea pigs. Hopefully the app makes the process a little less painful.

    Please let me/us know what you think after having used it for a bit. I think you will have some really great feedback and ideas, which we really value and work hard to implement whenever possible.

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