Dietary Choices Can Cause Low Blood Sugar: Managing Non-Diabetes Related Hypoglycemia

Dietary Choices Can Cause Low Blood Sugar: Managing Non-Diabetes Related Hypoglycemia

When hypoglycemia strikes, you feel lightheaded, your brain clouds over, you begin to feel shaky and irritable. In short, you feel sick and you need to eat.

But in order to manage a steady level of blood sugar and break free from the pendulum of highs and lows and all of the accompanying symptoms, you need a steady, long-term plan.

The “How and Why” Of Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia is brought on by the pancreas releasing too much insulin in response to a high level of glucose in the blood stream. This has the effect of dropping blood glucose levels too low. Normally, insulin is released to help modulate glucose levels in the blood. Glucose comes from carbohydrates that are broken down into simple sugars during digestion and are released into the blood.

Given the typical American diet, which is high in carbohydrates and sugar, it’s not difficult to set your blood sugar levels off-kilter. These carbohydrates include bread, fruit and vegetables, as well as cookies, over-processed snack foods, candy and alcohol.

Managing Hypoglycemia

A doctor can help you discover what the underlying cause is that’s leading to your blood-sugar swings, rule out diabetes and determine whether you have reactive or fasting hypoglycemia.

For reactive hypoglycemia, the causes of which are being debated, you can manage it by eating smaller meals more frequently. You’ll need to experiment with what works for you, but it’s recommended eating something about every 3 hours.

Choose from a variety of foods, and when you do choose carbohydrates—aim for the healthiest ones.

These would be grains and breads that are high in fiber, such as brown rice in place of white rice. Generally, anything that has been processed, or “enriched,” should be avoided because the fiber has usually been stripped out of it.

For help in choosing the best foods to keep your blood glucose levels modulated, use the glycemic index for reference. It ranks foods according to how quickly they are digested and lead to that spike in insulin production when too much glucose is in the bloodstream. Aim for low GI foods, as they are digested slower and only cause a blip in glucose levels as opposed to a bang.

The glycemic index can also help in planning balanced meals. If you are going to eat something that’s listed as a high GI carb, you can choose a low GI carb to accompany it, which will help balance the effect on insulin production. This is especially good around the holidays and for going out to dinner, when meals tend to be more carbohydrate-heavy.

For fasting hypoglycemia, which can be caused by alcohol, certain medications, illnesses and hormone imbalances, the main thing you can control is avoiding alcohol. A doctor will be able to advise you on whether your medications or hormone levels are contributing to your blood sugar issues

Categories: Diet, Health, Nutrition