Tips for Controlling Hypoglycemia

Posted by Wendy Neal Tuesday, March 2, 2010 Bookmark and Share

First of all, what is hypoglycemia? The literal meaning is low blood sugar: "hypo" meaning low, and "glycemia" meaning sugar. It is a disorder which is characterized by both sugar highs and lows. It can occur when sugars or carbohydrates are not metabolized correctly.

Several years ago, during the time I was having all these dizzy spells and weird episodes, my doctor decided to do a fasting blood glucose test. My results came back pretty low and he just mentioned that my low blood sugar levels were low. I didn't get a specific diagnosis of hypoglycemia, as doctors at that time typically did not view hypoglycemia as a valid disease for the general population; it was mainly something that a diabetic would experience as the result of their diabetes medication causing their sugar to plummet too low. He just told me to avoid too much sugar and pasta and then sent me on my way. No specific dietary plans or education or anything else.

All my life, even as a young child, I can remember feeling sick if I didn't eat at least every 4 hours or so. First I would get light-headed and feel a little faint. Then my stomach would start hurting. Then I would get very irritable and start snapping at people for no reason whatsoever. Then I would get really hot and start sweating. At this point I would realize that, hey I'm hungry, and I would eat something. Within minutes I would feel fine. I had no idea that this wasn't "normal". I thought that everyone felt sick when they were hungry, and after eating they felt better. So I didn't realize that this was something that could lead to other serious problems down the road if not addressed, and therefore I didn't mention it to anyone.

I realized that I might have hypoglycemia after my second serious bout with anxiety and panic attacks. I was at our local health food store looking for supplements to help me combat my anxiety, and this book about hypoglycemia just jumped out at me. It really shed some light on a lot of the problems I had been facing. The book is called "Hypoglycemia: Alternative Nutritional Approaches" by Louise Tenney, M.H.

According to this book, some symptoms of hypoglycemia are:

    * Anxiety
    * Breathing Difficulties
    * Constant Worry
    * Digestive Disorders
    * Drowsiness
    * Heart Palpitations
    * Impatience
    * Insomnia
    * Intense Hunger
    * Internal Trembling
    * Irritability
    * Lack of Concentration
    * Dizziness
    * Severe Sweating
    * Tingling

There was also a case study on a woman who was suffering from anxiety, panic attacks, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, numbness in her extremeties, digestive issues, and unexplained weight loss. Wow, I thought. This woman could have been me! I had exactly the same symptoms as she did.

The book also mentioned ways to keep your blood sugar levels balanced so that you would not experience wild fluctuations in your sugar levels. It's the sharp rises and drops in your sugar that makes you feel ill and causes all these other symptoms. The recommendations involved mostly dietary changes:

  1. Stop eating foods that cause drastic blood sugar peaks and valleys, which include:  
    • All processed or enriched foods like white flour or sugar, quick-cooking grains, high-fat empty calorie foods like doughnuts, pastries, cakes, cookies, soda pop, ice cream, and candy
    • Caffeine
    • Artificial sweeteners (Nutra-Sweet, saccharine, Sorbitol, Mannitol, Hexitol, and Glycol)
    • Theobromine (chocolate and cocoa)
    • Theophylline (tea)
  2. Don’t smoke or consume alcohol
  3. Eat less at each meal and more frequently (about every 2 - 3 hours). Supplement meals with protein snacks
  4. Emphasize more whole grains, fibrous foods, sprouts, nuts, seeds, and raw vegetables 
  5. Use stress reduction techniques to relax and unwind 
  6. Develop a regular exercise program that fits your needs and abilities

So with proper nutrition and eating habits, exercise, and stress reduction you can control your hypoglycemia and some of the other health issues that are related to it.

Do you have hypoglycemia or know someone who does? If so, do you have any tips you'd like to share on how you manage your symptoms?

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is for reference purposes only, and is not intended as medical or professional advice.