We have all suffered from a hypo at some point in time – especially those days when we fail to eat and soon enough we feel like we are going to pass out! Hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs when the sugar levels in your blood are too low. Many people think of hypoglycemia as something that only occurs in people with diabetes. However, it can also occur in people who don’t have dibetes.
Hypoglycemia is different from hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), which occurs when you have too much sugar in your bloodstream. Hypoglycemia can happen in people with diabetes if the body produces too much insulin. Insulin is a hormone that breaks down sugar so that you can use it for energy. You can also get hypoglycemia if you have diabetes and you take too much insulin or miss a meal or snack.
If you don’t have diabetes, hypoglycemia can happen if your body can’t stabilize your blood sugar levels. It can also happen after meals if your body produces too much insulin. Hypoglycemia in people who don’t have diabetes is less common than hypoglycemia that occurs in people who have diabetes or related conditions.
Everyone reacts differently to fluctuations in their blood glucose levels. Some common symptoms of hypoglycemia may include:
- Dizziness, extreme hunger, a headache, confusion, difficulty concentrating, sweating and shaking and blurred vision.
Diet plays a very important role in maintain blood sugar levels and keeping them stable. One of the most crucial things I emphasize to my clients to prevent hypoglycaemia’s, is eating regularly and eating the correct carbohydrate and protein ratio per meal or snack.
Some people may need a snack every 1.5 hours whereas others every 2 – 2.5hours. Learn to work with your body and plan snacks accordingly. It often occurs that a person may need 2 snacks in the morning and only one in the afternoon or vice versa. Work with your body’s needs.
A big mistake is waiting too long to eat a meal or snack. If you have hypoglycaemia and you feel the need for a snack you need to act fast. Waiting that 20 – 30 minutes before eating may just be too late as your blood sugar will have dropped and you start feeling the above symptoms which are not pleasant.
The best way forward is to try and avoid hypo’s as far as possible. However, if you do happen to have one, you may need a fast release sugar to push sugar levels up fast e.g. a Super C or a sweet. You don’t need to have a whole pack of sweets as your sugar will spike and then drop fast. Have a sweet to get your sugar up ( so you start feeling better) and then have a more sustainable carbohydrate with a protein like a slice of wholegrain bread with cheese so your sugar can stabilize and stay stable. Hunger will also be subdued once you do this.
Avoid refined sugars like sweets, cook- drinks, cakes etc. as they cause havoc on blood sugar levels – highs to lows. Learn to eat on time and plan some sugar free treats from time to time to satisfy your sweet tooth. Note I said sweet tooth not sweet craving – when you are on a nutritious eating plan you will not struggle with cravings!
Easy Health Wellness has a great range of Sugar free and Gluten free sweets and chocolates as well as preservative free whey protein bars to support you on your healthy eating plan.
Ajita Ratanjee (Dietitian and Wellness coach)