I am actually hypoglycemic. I grew up with my dad having type 1 diabetes, and my mom is hypoglycemic as well. I'm well-aversed in the area of blood sugar highs and lows. Understanding hypoglycemia hasn't been easy for me until my adult years. When I was young, I had a lot of problems and it wasn't always managed well. When I hit junior high I had the most issues. Going to school and feeling like I entered a fog with sweaty, shaky hands and feeling confused happened on a regular basis. It was scary for me. There's a term my husband made up for me called "hangry" and I've earned it. When my blood sugar drops around dinner time, I get irritable and snappy cause I feel like I need to eat. When I first got married I worked in an office for a chiropractor; after lunch I entered "sleep mode" where I just felt like I couldn't keep my eyes open, I felt so tired it was overwhelming. This usually hit 1 to 2 hours after eating lunch.
After becoming an Elite Trainer (Nutritionist is one part of that), I learned how much my food was truly the source of changing these problems. Eating a bowl of cereal at 7 AM and not eating until lunch time will not produce a healthy insulin response and recovery for your body. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich with chips and grapes at lunch will cause the same havoc as well. These are the foods I was eating. No wonder I could hardly function!
Eating foods high in carbohydrates (cereals, breads, pastas, added sugars) will most certainly cause your blood glucose levels to rise and fall dramatically, producing unwanted symptoms. These problems don't only affect your mood, they affect your brain, liver, pancreas and really the entire body. This is why type 1 diabetics have a shorter lifespan. It's very difficult for them to control their glucose levels because their body doesn't produce insulin and as a result highs and lows are a norm to most, which causes the body to deteriorate at a fast rate. It is easy for them to have deteriorating eyesight, infections in the body, brain damage and organ failure. The lifespan is less bs someone without diabetes.
When ANYONE constantly eats a diet of high carb, sugar, and processed foods, the pancreas continually gets damaged, as the rest of the body, because the body is constantly fighting the blood sugar spikes and drops by producing insulin and managing levels. This results in borderline diabetes, because it's so stressed (basically) and will stop functioning eventually.
How do you avoid this? How do I manage my own hypoglycemia? This really lies within your and my nutrition. There is something called the Glycemic Index, which I would assume most people would know of. The higher the number, the more it will spike the glucose/insulin response. It's recommended to eat lower on the index to manage blood sugar levels. Also, food pairings are very important for people with hypoglycemia and diabetes. Pairing protein with fruit will keep the blood sugar levels more stable because the protein goes into the blood stream slower, keeping the insulin response more even. Same with higher fat food.
As my diet has shifted, my body has responded wonderfully and I barely come across problems. But once I do, I know why, and it's always from the food I'm eating. That is why I typically try to eat a diet of meat, fruit and vegetables. Protein is extremely IMPORTANT for people who battle hypoglycemia. Relying on an apple alone for several hours will still make the blood glucose levels drop too low. Always having protein (healthy fat typically accompanies this such as burger, eggs, cheese, Etc) with your healthy carbohydrate choice (fruits and veggies) is the best plan. Also, I go for carbs that bring good nutrition to my body. My body responds horribly to grains that are processed with other unhealthy ingredients. This is why I typically eat bread that I make. I make my own pizza dough, tortillas, breadsticks, and try to keep it mainly to those items. The quality of ingredients really affects your blood sugar, which is why fruits and veggies have a better response than more empty carbs like bread.
OK, that's a lot of information. So I'm going to stop there for now. Questions? Please ask me. My next post will target what I eat, the importance of your activity following what you eat, and mirroring how I used to eat to how I eat now. Hypoglycemia can be annoying and difficult to understand what to do, but once you get it, it's pretty simple and realistic to manage.