Common questions about living with reactive hypoglycemia

Hello everyone, it’s been a while since I’ve written on here but I’ve had emails from many of you who are navigating your life with reactive hypoglycemia and I’m so pleased that this has been a useful resource for you. I thought it would be useful to post some of the questions I’ve received about living with reactive hypoglycemia and my answers to them right here. So without further ado…..here they are:

Do you find mornings the worst in terms of symptoms?

Yes the morning is the worst. I had to work the hardest in the morning when I felt unwell to manage symtoms. I would always try to eat about an hour after getting up and add MCT oil to my breakfast. Some things you can try eating in the morning are low carb granola + an egg + MCT oil. Once you feel more stable perhaps then you can slowly add two or three tablespoons of toasted pinhead oats, wheatbran or quinoa flakes to help your body get used to complex carbs gradually.

If you no longer have symptoms how do you know you have reactive hypoglycemia?

I was in hospital for two days and had a fasting and non fasting blood test when I had bad symptoms and was diagnosed. I am sure if I strayed from my regimen then the symptoms would come back but I am not thinking about testing it because being symptom free is too good. I remember the first time I was able to eat half a piece of wholegrain toast it felt like bliss! I am constantly making small improvements to push my tolerance in what I can eat even to this day but it’s best to do this in very small increments to avoid symptoms.

Do you try to keep to a specific carb level every day or just eat avoiding anything high carb?

I did count my carbs at the beginning but then it simply became about eating the right thing and not eating too much of it. To this day, I never really have more than 4-5 good tablespoons or complex carbs in one sitting and make sure it is balanced with the protein and fat. So for example I will have a low carb granola and add 4-5 tablespoons of oat bran or toasted pinhead oats with that. Or if I’m making porridge it will be mainly almond flour but then with 4-5 tablespoons or pinhead oats added in plus a good dollop of sesame butter. It took me a while to work up to that. I also found that having a tablespoon of MCT oil in my breakfast really helped to stabilize my blood sugar especially in the mornings when it would always be the most shakey.

What do you think about eating bananas or white rice?

I would advise to avoid bananas at all costs because they are one of the highest sugar fruits. Instead as a snack or pre work out food try a handful of nuts with some berries if you can tolerate them, or a couple of oatcakes with nut butter or similar. Same goes for white rice – this is an absolute no-no for those living with reactive hypoglycemia as it is just too carby for us.

Are there particular times of the day that work better for exercising? 

For me personally, I always found that my symptoms were worse in the morning, so until I eventually became stable, I would only ever exercise after lunchtime (when symptoms would usually fade) and would be sure to snack before and after. Around 2pm or 5pm was a good time for me. Now I can exercise anytime but never on an empty stomach. When I was at my worsdt even a 10 minute walk made me feel weak. These days I just try to exercise in the run up to my next snack break and make sure I have had a nutritionally balanced meal for whatever last meal before working out would have been.

What about anxiety?

The anxiety that comes with living with reactive hypoglycemia can be a bitch, that’s for sure! Meditation is your best friend, and CBD oil should not be overlooked. You can also look having a magnesium drink one or two times daily. I never really had anxiety before I had reactive hypoglecmia so I felt totally crazy experiencing this awful state of mind because my blood sugar was out of whack.

Did you ever have issues with hormones and do you think there is a link?

I have had a few people ask me this who had also experienced issues with their hormones. I am no medic but I do wonder whether there is a link here. I had my thyroid out before I had my daughter and have a sneaking suspicious that once I came off breastfeeding with my daughter 15 months on, that’s was the beginning of the chaos although I didn’t know it at the time.

I get really anxious about being out and not being near my fridge – how do you manage living with reactive hypoglycemia mentally?

I used to get so anxious being out and about and if I got a hypo. The only way that I got around this was to 1) make sure I timed my eating which I still do and 2) make sure I always have snacks in my bags so I don’t get stuck somewhere without food. I also check ahead with menus and make sure I book tables early so that I know I will be eating at the right time to avoid hypos.

I know this sounds military but it is the only way to live. Obviously I massively miss the freedom but the anxiety is real and the best way to not feel anxious is to always be prepared! I also take complex carbs out with me so if I am eating out and there isn’t something I can eat entirely I can just order the protein and veg and beef it up with my own supply – even if it’s just a couple of oatcakes! I guess in the end it just becomes a new way of life. I no longer notice these things as they have just become habit but I am pretty sure if I didn’t do these things I would be feeling anxious!

How long did it take you to recover?

I have to caveat this here by saying I was extremely strict with my diet to achieve this and took a holstic, anti-inflammatory approach here. I would say it took about a year to a year and a half to get stable but I can not say that I am fully recovered because when living with reactive hypoglycemia it doesn’t just go away but you can manage it to a degree that it no longer intrudes your life. Perseverance is key! 

What other tips can you share?

Living with reactive hypoglycemia, you can really feel as if you are going insane, and I don’t think the doctors really understand but there is definitely hope. I think it’s important to take a full body approach – as well as the above I focused everything on reducing inflammation – eating anti inflammatory foods and taking anti inflammatory supplements, yoga, meditation and anything that could help my body heal. I would definitely google both of those aspects and do some research to help your body get over this mad health flip.

Honestly, one of the best things I did was go to see a dietician to figure out what I should be eating, when and follow that very strictly, plus taking supplements that would help stabilise blood sugar. I also had success with CBD oil and taking frankinsense supplements, and also having MCT oil in the morning really helped, as mentioned above. I went on keto for a while just to calm my system down before reintroducing small amounts of carbs. I pretty much gave up with the doctors because they seemed to be able to offer no useful help! You really need to be your own doctor when living with reactive hypoglycemia in my humble opinion.

Finally one of our readers has found a doctor who actually has reactive hypoglcyemia himself based in the United States. His name is Dr Keith Berkowitz and he is currently running virtual clinics – plus he can be found on Instagram here.

I really hope all of the above insights on living with reactive hypoglycemia help you in your own journey. If you have any additional questions I would be more than happy to answer them from my own experience – you can mail me at talyastone AT myself DOT com.

Please note that all of the above is personal opinion – I am not a trained medical professional but simply sharing my experiences and learnings from living with reactive hypoglycemia.

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

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