When you feel weak and your hands suddenly start shaking like a leaf in the wind, it’s a clear sign your blood sugar is too low. At that moment, you’d eat just about anything to get your stability back.
You most likely feel anxious, short tempered and turn into an emotional volcano waiting to erupt. And it’s no wonder, because when your blood sugar is low, it’s a clear signal you need to refuel as quickly as possible.
Result? It doesn’t matter whether you know what’s healthy or not. At most occasions, your basic instinct wins and you find yourself reaching for a chocolate bar or pack of biscuits regardless of what your best intentions were.
What happens next you know all too well. With every quick sugary fix comes also a quick drop. That makes you go for another super-fast fix and so on it goes. It may seem like a cycle that’s difficult to break but the great news is, it’s not impossible!
All you need to know are a few basics to find your way out. Then you regain stability and protect your body against the uncomfortable sugary slumps.
Sugars in a different light
The first thing that may come to your mind when you hear of blood sugar balance, is carbs. Naturally they’re the fastest source of energy but should you eat them, limit or avoid them as much as you can?
As I mentioned in the What you think about ‘carbs’ may not always be true post, not all carbs are the same. When you eat the natural unprocessed type like brown rice or beans, you get the best, most efficient source of energy you can.
Due to their fibre the glucose is released slowly at a steady pace into your blood stream. You then release just enough insulin, the hormone which gets glucose from your blood to the cells, avoiding any spikes. This is incredibly important if you want to spare yourself from feeling exhausted, moody, avoid cravings but also to prevent developing diabetes later down the road.
Be smart with what you have
Your body knows perfectly well what to do after you eat. The dose of insulin you produce is in response to the type and amount of food you eat (unless you have type I diabetes).
Are there any limits? Can your pancreas get exhausted so it eventually switches off?
When you keep repeating the quick-fix scenarios long enough, even your perfectly healthy body gets tired. Two things can happen. Your insulin either stops working as efficiently as it should and you develop insulin resistance. Or you start producing less insulin.
Either way this roller coaster is the road to sick health, leading to diabetes type II, which I’m sure you’d gladly give a miss.
Is protein the key?
You may be used to eating a little bit of protein with every meal to balance the carbs. But how about breaking free from this habit? What if you focused on eating heaps of complex carbs instead? What if you ate oats, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat, legumes, vegetables, and a small amounts of nuts or seeds with every meal?
These foods contain protein as the natural part of the package. You don’t need to make the extra effort to add it to your meal to keep your blood sugar steady.
In fact, many studies have shown that eating whole grains alone significantly improves the work of insulin, helping to keep your blood sugar steady. Even in people who already have type II diabetes, by following a diet based on natural plant foods, their blood markers significantly improved (study). In some cases, they were even able to discontinue their oral medication! (study).
Should you eat small portions in order to avoid the sugar and insulin spikes?
Some people do well with small frequent meals, others function better with three large meals per day. Try both ways for a few days and see what works for you. While doing so, always eat ’til you’re full to avoid nibbling for 16 hours straight.
Your digestion as well as your pancreas deserves to take a break to regenerate. Ideally, you should be able to go without food for 3-4 hours straight. This way not only do you get a chance to digest all properly, but you also allow insulin to do its work without constant circulation in your blood.
Is fruit a no-no?
When you’re prone to blood sugar drops, it’s wise to watch out for the form of fruit you eat. Meaning? Stick with apples, pears, mandarins, any fruit you like in its natural form. Avoid or limit dried fruits and fruit juices. These fruity treats are stripped of fibre (juices) or water (dried fruit). It makes them a concentrated source of sugar which goes straight to your blood. No wonder you feel high at first and shaky later after you’ve finished a glass of juice on an empty stomach!
When you want to keep your blood sugar steady, it can be a long-distance run. Incorporate these suggestions and see how you feel.
Your body has a memory, so it’ll take a while to overwrite the patterns you’re used to. If you keep in line with these points however, soon you’ll find yourself enjoying days without any physical weakness or emotional storms.
Now, I’d love to hear from you! Share with me in the comments below:
What is your own experience with blood sugar drops and fixes?
As always thank you so much for your thoughts.