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Non-diabetic hypoglycemic with worsening symptoms- please help!

Hi there!

I'm a 22 year old college student, and I've been a "fasting" hypoglycemic since I was a kid. I'm non-diabetic and they are unsure of the true cause of my hypoglycemia... though they think that it has to do with several genetic factors. I'm here because I'm hoping someone can answer some questions for me because my hypoglycemia has been really severe this year... I can't say a day has passed without me feeling some sort of major hypoglycemic symptom- to the point where I keep missing classes because I'm simply too sick to go! I have a handful of questions for anyone here who thinks they can help:

1. My dad thinks the worsening symptoms are because I've stopped excersizing as much as I did, and it's thrown off my metabolism. Is this true? Should I try to excerzise more?

2. When I was little, my parents always had a Coke and a Snickers on me and made sure I ate a big breakfast. Now I've been told by my worldly Nursing school friends that I should be eating more small meals and that having more sugar can set me up for an attack later. Is this true? And if so, what should I carry on me?

3. I keep hearing that hypoglycemics should have low carb/high protein diets, but one of the websites I went to via the Mayo Clinic said the opposite. Which would you recommend? I live off pasta and such because I have to cook on my own and pasta is cheap. Again, any recommendations as to what I should be eating would be so helpful!!!

Thank you again for any insights/suggestions!!!

6 Responses
Avatar universal
Hi, Elizabeth.  I'm not a medical professional, I'm just the parent of a kid with diabetes.  I'm not as familiar with your condition as I am with the diabetic version of lows.  Typically a low does not happen because of a lack of exercise, but can from too much exercise.  Exercise may get your body back to a normal regimen which could make your body react better, but I really don't know.  Eating more and smaller meals may put less stress on your system, that may be something to try.  I'm not a dietician, but I don't think you should go on a low carb diet, that is a view espoused by some doctors but it is not a widely accepted message.  More proteins and fibers would certainly not be a bad thing for your system.  Do you think your diet has changed at all between when you had better control and now?  Pasta is high in carbs, so if your body over-reacts to carbs (and if that's why you go low), then you may want to find a different cheap meal.  Do you have access to a dietician, particularly one that specialized in endocrinology?  Have you tried changing your diet a couple weeks at a time to see how different combinations affect you?  Could stress of college also be making you go low?
Avatar universal
Hi Elizabeth,

I do not have direct experience with hypoglycemia (I am a type 1 diabetic) but I do have indirect experience through my daughter, who is 21 and in college. It has been argued for years whether hypoglycemia actually exists or not, but it is clear to me that it does. I only need to watch my daughter to know. It follows patterns that indicate that a moderate blood sugar rise triggers an overreaction of the pancrease to produce too much insulin, causing the low. I have watched my daughter experience this for many years, as her symptoms mirrored mine when she was low.

The difference is that she cannot correct her lows with carbs, as I would, because this causes a quick rise in BS which then triggers another overreaction by the pancreas causing another low. It is a vicious circle. Her solution which has worked for several years, even during her transition to college where her exercise and diet options changed, has been to focus on avoiding simple carbs (sugar, for example). This applies to meals, to frequent between meal snacks, and to recovery when she does get low. She uses low carb energy bars for snacks and particularly before and during heavy exercise to prevent an exercise induced low. She never uses sweet drinks or candy to recover.

Here is an example of recommended diet for hypoglycemia. I would not suspect you have any of the other medical conditions listed on this page, but the slow intake of carbs suggested is what has worked for my daughter, and many of her friends who share this condition (it is more common than one would expect. You may not be able to make the complex menu in college, but is should help you identify the types of food that may help


Good Luck,
Avatar universal
I don't know if you still check this, but if you do, please consider this information.  First, a good book to read is 'The Do's and Don'ts of Hypoglycemia' by Roberta Ruggiero.  (Also check out 'Healing Traditions'. There's a section in the front of the book on carbohydrates that is well worth reading.  The book is huge with lots of recipes, so you may want to find it in your local library rather than buying it). Second, check out this website:  www.hypoglycemia.org.  Third, have visited a doctor that is supportive and knowledgable on the subject?  If not, find one.  Fourth, sugar as a quick fix is your worst enemy.  It puts you on a roller coaster ride that will zap your energy, and make your symptoms worse.  Not only that, but I've found some sources that say continous abuse of sugar can lead a hypoglycemic to develop diabetes.  I've also read that the sugar high can cause damage to the retina, nerves, and skin, even if you don't have diabetes.  Fifth, I checked out the site that Larry sent you, and the diet they recommend is NOT good.  I agree with the 'avoid' column.  But the 'recommend' column contains many things that other sources suggest to avoid.  For example, coffee is not a good idea.  It spikes your blood sugar just as sugar does.  

Hope this helps.

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Avatar universal
    Flashbacks to my college experience when some days I couldn't get out of bed, much less go to class! I fought with doctors for years that I was NOT depressed, something was wrong. Now, I'm 42 and recieved medical confirmation of OUR condition only some five years ago. Be thankful you can take better care of yourself sooner than I did! I too lived off pastas, Cokes and ice cream. (In college it was the cheap Ramen noodles and plain bagels.)
    A medical professional may explain it better, but here's some things I have been told. Your body doesn't measure blood sugar levels before making insulin. Production is triggered when sugars hit your throat. So, treating a low with sugar 1) is temporary and 2) will make matters worse since you just produced more insulin. Use a sugar fix only if you need time to find/cook a better option. I'll grab nuts instead, but I'm a flight attendant so peanuts are ALWAYS nearby!!
    Yes, I feel better with protein and more, smaller meals!!!! Learn to eat more slowly to allow your body notify your mind that you are full. Try to include a complex carb/whole grain with every meal. It slowly down digestion, allowing your body to extract more from your food as it goes through the system. It also helps the hunger from returning as quickly.
    Personally, I eat every 3 -4 hours. I eat, I do not pig out. My portions at each meal/snack have gotten much smaller than before. I used to try to eat enough to last until my family/friends were hunger again. It didn't work, I was always hungry first since I ate the wrong things. Now, I carry a larger purse and always have protein bars, almonds, oatmeal bars, etc and a bottle of water. I now eat a Happy Meal with my nephews, not the Big Mack. I do this to keep from gaining weight since I eat so often. Again, eat slowly and you will fill full.
    Cheap is harder to do. Try nuts, peanut butter, almond butter, whole fruit (eaten with meals or with whole grain bread and cheese), Quaker Breakfast Cookies (Oatmeal w/choclate chips or raisins in the breakfast aisle), Quaker Simply Harvest Instant Multigrain Hot Cereal (several flavors, I love the vanilla, almond and honey). Enterex Glucose Control nutrition drinks are more costly, but are good and have decent numbers on the label. Kind brand of all natural bars are more expensive than some, but are very good. Always check the protein/organic bars to see what's on sale. Read the Labels!! They are not all created the same!! For the special treat, Publix supermarket's store brand of No Sugar Added ice cream is better than any national brand and is better tasting than many. Shop at a discount/dollar store (such as Fred's, Dollar General, Big Lot's) to get brand name food items cheaper than the local grocery.
    I limit my artificial sugar substitutes, instead using Stevia, a natural sweetener commonly used in Europe. I carry a bottle of the liquid and easily mix it in my tea for a real, not diet-tasting, drink. I joined the GNC club for the discount on my Steiva alone. Google it for numerous websites for ordering or cooking with it.
    Just keep reading and gathering infomation. Try what you and your doctor think might work. In the end, remember you are a pretty good judge of what's working for you, reguardless of what a particular web sites or diet says. And, whenever you are tempted to eat very badly, do what I do: Remember how poorly you felt before you got a handle on this thing!!
                       Good Luck  --  Starla
Avatar universal
Listen to Starla-- she is right on target-- forget  the caffeine also---use stevia, small protein and veg meals, no cokes---just print out what she said and live by it---
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