The Importance of Individualizing your Hypoglycemia Diet
- an excerpt from The Do’s and Don’ts of Hypoglycemia: An Everyday Guide to Low Blood Sugar by Roberta Ruggiero
There are many books on hypoglycemia diet. If you’ve read some of them, by now you’re aware that many disagree on what type of diet to follow. It’s indeed confusing if you read one book and it tells you to eat a high protein/low carbohydrate diet, while another book says to consume low protein/high carbohydrate foods. Where does that leave you, the confused and bewildered hypoglycemic?
First of all, I am sure that each author has enough confirmation and evidence that his or her diet is successful. Most likely, they all are. This is probably due to the fact that the big offenders (sugar, white flour, alcohol, caffeine and tobacco) are eliminated and six small meals are consumed instead.
But the key to a successful hypoglycemia diet lies in its “individualization.” Each one of us is different. Each one of us is biochemically unique. Therefore, every diet must be tailor-made to meet our individual nutritional requirements.
The list of foods your physician gives you or the list you may read in your favorite book on hypoglycemia, even the suggested food list in the back of this book, are basic guidelines. Variations come with time and patience, trial and error. Don’t be afraid to listen to your body. It will send you signals when it cannot tolerate a food.
So basically, stick to the suggestions in the following do’s and don’ts, and hopefully, with just a few adjustments during your course of treatment, a new and healthier you will gradually appear.
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 health-care 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 undertaken 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 – Eat six small meals a day or three meals with snack in between. Remember not to overeat.
DO – Be prepared to keep your blood sugar stabilized at all times, whether at home, office, 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 – 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 is sugar…and your body will react to an excess of it.
DO – Be aware of the fact that some medications contain caffeine. If you’re having reactions to the following medications, bring this matter to the attention of your physician: Anacin, APC, Caffergot, Coricidin, Excedrin Fiorinal, Four-Way Cold Tablets and Darvon Compound, etc.
DO — Start a library of cookbooks. They don’t necessarily have to be for hypoglycemics. Many good books with no or low sugar recipes are available.
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 hypoglycemia diet and a healthier you.
DON’T — Skip breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day for a hypoglycemic.
DON’T — Compare your results or progress with anyone else’s. Each body’s metabolism is different.
DON’T — Be obsessive about your diet. The CONSTANT focus on what you can and cannot eat will only instill more fear, stress and frustration.