I have been posting on the HSF’s Facebook page for three years now and never received so many “likes” and comments as I did when I included the following short dietary “don’t” from one of the chapters in my book, The Do’s and Don’ts of Hypoglycemia: An Everyday Guide to Low Blood Sugar. “Watch your fruit consumption. If you are in the early or severe stages of hypoglycemia, you may not be able to eat any fruit. Some patients can eat just a small amount. Your diet diary will help guide you. Avoid dried fruits completely.”
At the same time as the above post, I also put up an article on how Some Yogurts Have More Sugar than a Twinkie. Wow, I felt like I opened up Pandora’s Box…and not just on Facebook. E-mails filled my inbox, and I was even having long conversations with my family and friends. Why did these two posts hit such a nerve?
Pat from Boise, Idaho, may have the answer. She sent me the following e-mail:
“I’m at a loss. No, I’m more than that, I am angry, confused, bewildered and most of all, I feel deprived! Not a day goes by where I don’t read about something else I cannot eat! Seems like I have to get rid of not only my comfort food but food I thought was wholesome and natural. How can I survive with all these restrictions?”
Although there were other comments similar to Pat’s, I was happy to see that many of you also shared positive e-mails and posts, some even very informative.
Isabelle: I will also add to skip the fruit juice. All the fiber has been taken out of the fruit for the juice, and glucose will absorb so quickly that the blood sugar will go crazy.
Myriam: I find that eating fruit with protein helps to slow the glucose absorption (and extreme insulin spikes for me), ex: apples and peanut butter.
Andrea: I learned this the hard way. I was eating a banana for a night time snack for a while before I realized it was causing me to stay up at night as well as causing me to crash during the night.
Tabitha: I definitely can’t eat fruit unless it’s with peanuts or some other protein. My sugar spikes and then crashes within an hour.
Jess: Thank you so much! My doctor has never mentioned this and I love fruit! How about V8?
Julie: When I was first diagnosed, my doctor took me off all fruits. What a difference and something I do my best to keep up years later. It’s amazing how high a banana is on the glycemic index.
Karen: My daughter is a severe reactive hypoglycemic and lives mainly on fruit and is very stable since changing to mainly fruit and very little protein. She spent 2 years working that out, so it’s not the same for everyone.
Following are some comments from my yogurt post:
Shalla: And that’s my conflict with yogurt right there. I want to eat it, everyone says to eat it, but then I read the label and its sugar, sugar, sugar. I even switched to Greek yogurt. More sugar. So are you saying I should switch to Twinkies? I was joking about the Twinkies…all I’m saying is I agree with the post. I just usually skip the yogurt, or have it rarely as a treat. I take probiotics instead.
Rosanne: Cobani Greek — hundreds have 100 calories and only a few grams of sugar. They are sweetened with “Stevia,” which is the safest thing for you to have with no sugar. Never have NutraSweet or Splenda (aspartame or sucralose). They are neurotoxins and make the body confused, doesn’t know what to do with it and makes people gain weight. Stevia is the safest “non calorie” sweetener. I work for a doctor who specializes in integrative medicine. This is his teaching and advice. In addition, Greek yogurt has high protein which counteracts the carbs. BEST bet, plain Greek GMO free yogurt and fresh fruit.
Julie: So eat your yogurt with protein and fiber. Perfect fix. At least for me it is. I only eat half unless my body tells me my sugar is low.
So where does all this leave you, the one suffering from hypoglycemia?
First and foremost, if you and your family are facing the challenges of controlling hypoglycemia symptoms, it is imperative to read about this subject, preferably several books. If you skip this important step and rely solely on the information you get off the internet, you are shortchanging everyone involved! Below are suggestions from my book that would have cleared up some of the confusion about fruit and yogurt. For remaining questions, I provide the names of doctors, books and organizations that would have the answers.
Do keep a daily account of everything you eat for one week to ten days. In one column, list every bit of food, drink and medication that you take and at what time. In the second column, list your symptoms and the time at which you experience them. Very often you will see a correlation between what you have consumed and your symptoms. When you do, eliminate those foods or drinks that you notice are contributing to your behavior and note the difference. DO NOT STOP MEDICATION. If you believe that your medication may be contributing to your symptoms, contact your physician. A diet diary is your personal blueprint—a clear overall view of what you are eating, digesting and assimilating. It can be the first indicator that something is wrong and, perhaps, a very inexpensive way of correcting a very simple problem.
Do start eliminating the “biggies”—those foods, drinks and chemicals that cause the most problems: sugar, white flour, alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. Do be extremely careful when and how you eliminate the offending substances. Only YOU, with the guidance of a healthcare professional, can decide. Some patients choose to go at a steady pace. If you drink ten cups of coffee a day, gradually reduce consumption over a period of days or weeks. The same is true for food or tobacco. If you are heavily addicted to all of the aforementioned, particularly alcohol, then withdrawal should not be attempted unless you are under the care of a physician.
Do replace offending foods immediately with good, wholesome, nutritious food and snacks as close to their natural state as possible. Lean meats, poultry (without the skin), whole grains, vegetables and allowable fruits are recommended. We want to prevent deprivation from setting in, especially the “poor me, I have nothing to eat” attitude. There is plenty to eat.
Do be aware that when you start on a hypoglycemic diet, you might experience migrating aches, pain in your muscles and/or joints, headaches or extreme fatigue. This is normal when eliminating refined foods. Call your physician if they persist.
Do be prepared to keep your blood sugar stabilized at all times, whether at home, the office, at school or traveling. At home you should always have allowable foods ready in the refrigerator or cupboards. Always keep snacks in your car or where you work.
Do rotate your foods. Eating the same foods over and over again for consecutive days can result in food sensitivities or allergies.
Do read labels. Avoid ALL sugars—dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose and sucrose. Read labels in health food stores too. Just because you buy something in a health food store does not necessarily mean you can tolerate the ingredients.
Do avoid artificial sweeteners, additives, preservatives and food coloring. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a big problem for many hypoglycemics. Avoid it completely.
Do watch your fruit consumption. If you are in the early or severe stages of hypoglycemia, you may not be able to eat any fruit. Some patients can eat just a small amount. Your diet diary will help guide you. Avoid dried fruits completely.
Do be careful of the amount of “natural” foods or drinks you consume. Even though juices are natural, they contain high amounts of sugar. Whether or not the sugar you consume is natural, your body doesn’t know the difference. Sugar is sugar, and your body will react to an excess of it.
Do dilute your juices, using about 2/3 juice to 1/3 water. f that’s still too strong for you, try 1/2 juice and 1/2 water. Drink small quantities or drink them after you have eaten something, especially if you find that taking them on an empty stomach causes you problems.
Do attend some natural cooking classes. You will be taught to reduce sugar, salt, saturated fats, cholesterol and allergenic foods from your diet and still enjoy eating. Call your local schools, libraries and health food stores, or scan the local papers to find out what is available in your area.
Do change your attitude about what constitutes a snack. We tend to think of snacks in terms of goodies or sweet treats. A good snack can be a high protein grain like quinoa with broccoli, half-stuffed tomato with tuna fish, some steamed zucchini and onions on a half cup of brown rice, a chicken leg or a slice of turkey.
The last two don’ts are so important…please read and repeat them often!
Don’t panic when you first hear about all the foods that you must eliminate from your diet. Keep repeating all the foods that you CAN eat—there are plenty.
Don’t forget that being PREPARED with meals and snacks is the key to a successful diet plan and ultimately a healthier YOU!
Here’s to your health,