How to Change Your Diet if You Have Hypoglycemia

Two Parts:Making Safety the First StepChanging Your Diet

Hypoglycemia, a condition characterized by lower than normal levels of glucose in the bloodstream, can be caused by many factors. Reactive hypoglycemia is defined as hypoglycemia which occurs when there is no underlying medical condition to explain an abnormal production and regulation of insulin, the hormone which lowers your blood glucose.[1] Your body overcompensates and reduces blood glucose levels too much after eating (postprandial). This tendency can be counteracted by changing your eating habits so that glucose enters the bloodstream at a slow, steady pace.[2]

Part 1
Making Safety the First Step

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    See a doctor to rule out other causes of hypoglycemia. Organic hypoglycemia is caused by medical conditions such as liver or kidney disease, certain tumors, or hormone deficiencies; addressing the underlying cause is the treatment. Hypoglycemia also can be caused by some medicines, especially ones used to treat diabetes. Do not change your diet before a trained medical professional rules out other causes and diagnoses you with reactive hypoglycemia.[3][4]
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    Seek the advice of a trained nutritionist. Your new diet should meet the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) in terms of the calories, proteins, minerals, and vitamins needed for a healthy adult.[5] He can guide you as you add and remove foods from your diet. He will assist you with planning the content of your meals and snacks.
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    Monitor yourself for the symptoms of hypoglycemia. Let others know about your diagnosis. Everyone can look out for symptoms like anxiety, irritability, hunger, sweating, shakiness, rapid heartbeat, fatigue, tingling around the mouth, dizziness, and hot flashes.[6][7] Break your diet and eat sugary foods. The goal is to get your blood glucose back to a normal range as soon as possible[8]
    • Let friends, family, and co-workers assist you with getting medical attention if you should develop symptoms of worsening hypoglycemia such as confusion, abnormal behavior, blurry vision, seizures, and a loss of consciousness. Let them know you may slur your words and make clumsy movements similar to an intoxicated person.[9]
    • You can become symptomatic for two reasons. Your body inappropriately begins the process of decreasing your blood glucose to unusually low levels after digesting food. In response to this stress, your body releases a rush of adrenaline, causing a fight-or-flight response.[10] In addition, your body is being deprived of its major source of energy, glucose. The brain is very sensitive to this lack. You may experience an inability to perform normal tasks, changes in your mental status (how you think), or changes in your level of consciousness (how awake you are).[11]

Part 2
Changing Your Diet

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    Do not eat concentrated sweets or meals high in simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are digested rapidly, causing a sharp increase in blood glucose which can trigger reactive hypoglycemia. Concentrated sweets mainly contain simple carbohydrates, also called simple sugars. You want to eat foods with a low glycemic index.[12]
    • Glycemic index offers information on how foods affects blood glucose and insulin. A lower number indicates a smaller effect.[13]
    • Read food labels looking for terms like sugar, honey, molasses, fructose, corn syrup, corn sweetener, and high-fructose corn syrup. Products like candy, cookies, cakes, fruit drinks, soft drinks, and ice cream are concentrated sweets which will have a high glycemic index[14]
    • You can use sugar substitutes like sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sweet’N Low), and aspartame (Equal) to replace table sugar. Read the labels on “sugar-free” foods, carefully. They may contain other ingredients which can raise your blood glucose too rapidly. Sugar substitutes may cause other health problems.[15]
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    Make complex carbohydrates and protein an important part of your diet. Glucose enters the blood stream more slowly over a longer period time when these types of nutrients are eaten. Incorporate starch-containing foods like whole grain breads and pasta, potatoes, corn, and beans into your diet. Protein and healthy fats help to regulate blood sugar and prevent high blood sugar spikes followed by blood sugar dips (hypoglycemia). Fiber also does this. Protein can be found in animal sources as well as legumes (beans and peas), nuts, and seeds.[16][17]
    • Use complex carbohydrates and proteins as your major energy source. Complex carbohydrates are made up simple sugars connected together, like beads on a chain. These complex sugars are harder to digest. It takes a while for proteins to be converted into glucose in the body. This slower digestion is why your blood glucose levels rise in a more gradual fashion.[18] Healthy fats should be a major energy source too. They maintain proper blood sugar levels and they also provide long satiety.
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    Add soluble fiber to your diet. Fiber is a non-digestible complex carbohydrate found in plants. The soluble type of fiber is found in legumes, oat products, and in fruit as pectin. When soluble fiber dissolves in water, it forms a sticky gel. Stomach emptying, digestion, and the absorption of glucose are delayed. [19]
    • Canned fruits with added sugars could lead to reactive hypoglycemia. Eat fresh fruit or canned fruits without added sugars.[20]
    • Insoluble fiber, like wheat bran, does not dissolve in water. It adds to bulk to the stool and helps keep your bowel movements regular.[21] It could be a healthy part of your diet, but it will not help with the reactive hypoglycemia.
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    Personalize the size and frequency of your meals. The goal is to keep your blood glucose levels as even as possible. Experiment to see what works best for you. Make every meal well-balanced by eating complex carbohydrates, protein, and a fibrous food together. Snacks do not necessarily have to contain all three.[22]
    • Your options range from eating 3 larger meals a day with 3 healthy snacks or eating up to 6 smaller meals, evenly spaced throughout the day, with an evening snack.[23][24]
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    Limit the alcohol and caffeine in your diet. Both of these “drugs” can exacerbate the symptoms of reactive hypoglycemia. Alcohol lowers blood glucose levels. Caffeine stimulates the production of adrenaline.[25][26]
    • Do not counteract your efforts to prevent hypoglycemia. In some studies, the acute consumption of alcohol increased insulin secretion, thus decreasing blood glucose levels.[27]
    • Do not magnify your fight-or-flight symptoms (hunger, anxiety, sweating, rapid heartbeat, and faintness) by consuming caffeine.[28]
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    Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight has been shown to interfere with the body processes which control your blood glucose levels.[29] Lose any excess weight with a healthy diet and exercise.
    • You can get an idea of your ideal by using body mass index (BMI), a screening tool used for body fatness or health. If you are 20 years or older, a healthy BMI is in the range of 18.5 to 24.9 . The formula is: weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 X 703.[30] It is best to consult a doctor when trying to lose weight.


  • See a doctor about boosting the effects of your diet with medications. She could prescribe alpha-glucosidase inhibitors (acarbose and miglitol). These medications may help to delay glucose absorption and lower postprandial hyperglycemia. They may prevent reactive hypoglycemia.[31]

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