Diet for Diabetics Suffering from Low Blood Sugar
Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which people suffer from high levels of sugar (glucose) in their blood. Although there are different forms of diabetes, type 2 diabetes is the most common. Diabetes occurs when the body has a problem making or using insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is essential for moving blood sugar from the blood into our cells where it can be stored and used for energy. In type 2 diabetes, insulin does not respond correctly and as a result not all of the blood sugar moves into the cells to be used for energy. Instead it stays in the blood stream causing higher then normal blood sugar levels. These high blood sugar levels, called hyperglycemia, can cause all types of symptoms and health concerns. Once someone is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a treatment plan that always includes diet and possibly medications is implemented. The goal is to manage blood sugar to normal levels.
For some type 2 diabetics who are trying to achieve better blood sugar control, the concern of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia can sometimes be a problem. Hypoglycemia results when blood sugar levels go below normal levels due to excess insulin in the blood. This results in varied symptoms depending on the individual and can happen for a number of reasons. Hypoglycemia in type 2 diabetics is more common in those taking medications to manage blood sugar then in those managing blood sugar with lifestyle changes alone.
Causes of low blood sugar:
- Delaying snacks and meals, not eating all of your snacks and meals
- Not eating all of your snacks and meals and therefore not enough food intake
- Doing more exercise than usual
- Taking too much oral medication or insulin.
Most common symptoms:
- Pounding heart
- Blurred Vision
- Numbness of lips and tongue
More severe symptoms that can occur if blood sugar continues to fall:
- Slurred or slow speech
- Personality change
If hypoglycemia occurs, eating a simple sugar that is absorbed quickly such as juice, regular soda, glucose tablets or hard candy can help. People with type 2 diabetes should have knowledge on how to check their blood sugar and should be instructed to carry a source of quick sugar at all times. If you have symptoms of low blood sugar you should contact your doctor as soon as possible to discuss appropriate changes in your treatment and/or medication plan.
How to manage type 2 diabetes and prevent hypoglycemia through diet:
Consume 6 small meals per day
People suffering from type 2 diabetes should consume six small meals per day instead of 3 large ones. The best plan of action is to eat every 3 to 4 hours with three small meals and three healthy snacks. Meals and snacks should contain complex carbohydrates mostly in the form of whole grains, fruits and/or vegetables; lean protein and healthy fats to keep blood sugar levels steady and at normal levels.
Eat complex carbohydrates
You should not eliminate carbohydrates from your diet. Instead, you should decrease simple carbohydrates and increase your consumption of complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs are absorbed at a slower rate than simple carbohydrates and therefore are better for managing blood sugars. Whole grain breads, pasta (whole wheat), rice (brown rice), vegetables, fruits, whole grain cereals, oats, potatoes and legumes are all great examples of complex carbohydrates.
Limit caffeine and alcohol
It is a good idea to limit your intake of foods and beverages that contain caffeine. Overusing caffeine can cause symptoms similar to those of low blood sugar, thus making you feel even worse. The consumption of alcohol (especially on an empty stomach) can effect both glucose lowering medications and cause a drop in blood sugar levels so go easy if at all. Speak with your doctor first about whether alcohol consumption is safe for you.
Choose fresh fruit over fruit juice
Choose fresh, frozen or canned whole fruit (canned in its own juice or water) as opposed to drinking fruit juice. Whole fruit contains fiber, which can can slow down the absorption of sugar. In addition many fruit juices contain added sugar and a more concentrated form of sugar, which can increase blood sugars rapidly.
Choose high fiber foods
Add foods rich in fiber to your daily diet. Fiber is healthy in many ways and will help slow down the absorption of sugar into the blood steam helping to stabilize blood sugar levels. Choose a variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts/seeds and whole grains that are packed with fiber.
Maintain a healthy body weight
Excessive body weight can hinder your body’s ability to utilize insulin therefore you should strive for a healthy body weight. Type 2 diabetes is much more prevalent in overweight people and for many reaching a healthier weight can reverse the problem.
Limit simple carbohydrates
To manage blood sugars properly it is important to limit simple carbohydrates, which can cause rapid rises in blood sugar. Simple carbohydrates include foods such as cakes, soda pop, cookies, honey, candy, table sugar, pastries, pies, jams, molasses and jellies.
If you suspect diabetes don’t try to go it alone. It is important to be properly diagnosed by your doctor before you begin to make changes. Some type 2 diabetics require both lifestyle change and medication where others can manage blood sugars with lifestyle changes alone. Reaching a healthy weight, adopting healthy eating habits and exercising on a regular basis will all help to manage your diabetes so that you can live a long, healthy and happy life. If you suspect periods of hypoglycemia after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes it is vital to speak with your doctor immediately so that your medications and blood sugar can be monitored more closely and necessary changes can be made.
Type 2 Diabetes: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001356/
The Nutrition Source/ Carbohydrates: Good Carbs Guide the Way:http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/carbohydrates-full-story/
American Diabetes Association:http://www.diabetes.org
The Whole Grains Council: http://www.wholegrainscouncil.org/