Jewels Doskicz is a registered nurse, freelance writer, patient advocate, health coach, and long-distance cyclist. Jewels is the moderator of Diabetic Connect’s weekly #DCDE Twitter chat, and she and her daughter both live healthfully with type 1 diabetes.
Hypoglycemia is defined as a blood sugar reading of 60 mg/dL or less, but you may feel it before you measure your blood sugar. Symptoms include sudden hunger, dizziness, shakiness, nervousness, a pounding heartbeat, drowsiness, and sweating.
These symptoms aren't pleasant, and hypoglycemia can spur one into a desperate or indulgent eating frenzy.
What do you do?
While you may be ready to grab just about anything to stop your low, recent research shows high-glycemic foods like sugary snacks and drinks, white bread, and other processed carbs trip a different switch in the brain than lower glycemic choices, possibly driving some people to overeat.
Is this a double whammy when living with diabetes? You bet. Our brains have a built-in, protective rescue mechanism to fix low blood sugar. When blood sugar drops, our bodies want to fix it as quickly as possible, which can lead to less than stellar food choices. Soda, gummy bears, and ice cream—you might choose anything to fill the need.
This recent research, though, points to the importance of food choices in stabilizing blood sugars and stopping the roller coaster of high and low blood sugars.
"Sugary foods and drinks, white bread, and other processed carbohydrates that are known to cause abrupt spikes and falls in blood sugar appear to stimulate parts of the brain involved in hunger, craving, and reward," according to The New York Times.
Who is affected?
The research does say not everyone will develop uncontrollable food cravings by eating refined carbs—only the unlucky few will. Lead researcher Dr. David Ludwig says it may be beneficial for some to avoid processed carbohydrates, which in return will reduce food urges and improve weight control.
What does this mean for someone with diabetes who is struck by that "GET-IN-MY-BELLY" feeling?
It all boils down to good food choices in the long run; eating fewer refined carbs and more whole foods is where it's at. Next time your blood sugar is low, go for a glass of juice instead of a drink loaded down with high fructose corn syrup, and be sure to have a source of protein as well.