Best Snacks for Hypoglycemia
Hypoglycemia, commonly known as low blood sugar or low blood glucose, occurs when blood glucose (blood sugar) drops below the normal level.
What are the Symptoms of Hypoglycemia?
The symptoms of hypoglycemia or a blood sugar low may include:
- Difficulty speaking
What is Glucose?
Glucose is our body's main source of fuel and provides energy for the cells that make up our muscles and tissues. Glucose is found in our food, carbohydrates being the main dietary source. Foods rich in carbohydrates include; rice, pasta, potatoes, breads, tortillas, cereals, grains, milk, fruit and sweet foods.
After we eat a meal, our body will absorb the glucose into the blood stream and carry it to the body's cells to use as energy. For this process to work properly, a hormone called insulin is needed to convert the glucose into energy. If we eat too much glucose, our body will then store it in the liver and muscles as glycogen to use as extra energy between meals. If this excess energy is not used up, it can be converted to fat and stored in fat cells where it stays or is used for energy in times of need.
What causes Hypoglycemia?
Normally, when blood sugar levels begin to fall, the body will signal the liver to break down the stored glycogen and release glucose into the blood stream. Once this occurs, the blood sugar level will then rise to a normal level.
In people with hypoglycemia or for some with diabetes, the glycogen response is impaired and they will experience a blood sugar low. Hypoglycemia can happen suddenly and is usually mild. It is easily treated by eating or drinking a small amount of food rich in glucose.
How do you Prevent Hypoglycemia?
For people with reactive hypoglycemia, they will experience blood sugar crashes and experience the above symptoms. These people will benefit from spreading their food intake over five to six small meals and snacks per day in order to maintain more regular blood sugar levels. People with reactive hypoglycemia also need to aim to choose foods that will not cause blood sugar crashes later on.
Common snacks that are rich in sugar or high glycemic (high GI) carbohydrates will cause large fluctuations in blood sugar levels, potentially triggering a hypoglycemic reaction a few hours after eating.
Foods to Avoid if you have Hypoglycemia
High GI carbohydrates such as:
- Sugary/sweet foods
- Processed breads and baked goods
- Fried and high fat foods
What are the Best Snacks for Hypoglycemia?
These snacks will help you to maintain more normal blood sugar levels and avoid any nasty blood sugar crashes.
- Cheese and Fruit
The balance of protein and fat in this snack is great for those with hypoglycemia. Try apples with slices of cheddar, figs with Brie or grapes with cottage cheese for example.
- Vegetables or Fruits and Healthy Fats
This snack has a great balance of carbohydrates and fats, working to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Try apple with almond butter, celery sticks and peanut butter or carrots with guacamole etc.
Nuts are an easy, portable snack for those with hypoglycemia. They have a great balance of low GI carbohydrates, fat, fiber and protein. Avoid nuts that are flavored, coated in sugar, yogurt or chocolate and stick to the plain or roasted ones. Try a handful of almonds, pistachios or macadamia nuts or have a spoonful of almond butter - choosing a nut butter without added sugar will be your best choice.
- High protein foods
Foods that are high in protein will help to maintain your blood sugar level. These includes things like eggs, tuna, nuts, chicken, turkey, ham, cheese and jerky. High protein foods break down slowly which helps to maintain blood sugar levels and prevent crashes. If choosing meat, a lean cut will be your best choice.
- High fiber foods
Foods that are high in fiber are generally low GI, meaning they will keep your blood sugar levels steady. Some of the best foods for hypoglycemics include legumes, some fruits, bell peppers, cucumber, carrots, apples, berries, beans etc.
Have you ever suffered a blood sugar crash?
It may take some time, but after a while you will find the snacks that will maintain your blood sugar levels and help you to avoid any nasty blood sugar crashes. Everyone is different so play around with different combinations - what works for someone else might not work for you and vice versa.