Low blood sugar, also called hypoglycemia, can cause symptoms that include weakness, feelings of faintness, sweating, rapid heartbeat, nervousness and hunger. The condition occurs when glucose, or blood sugar, levels fall below normal. The body can convert carbohydrates, proteins and fats in the foods you eat to glucose. The liver stores excess glucose for use later on when blood sugar levels fall and need to be increased. If the levels cannot rise, you have low blood sugar, MedlinePlus explains.
Hypoglycemia may occur in diabetics as a result of fluctuating blood sugar levels -- sometimes as a side effect from medication, in which case dosage can be adjusted. People without diabetes can also acquire low blood sugar from underlying illnesses or the way their body digests particular foods. Treating an underlying condition may solve the problem. Changing dietary habits to avoid certain foods usually prevents symptoms.
You may be able to eliminate foods from your diet if you notice they lead to symptoms. Foods that often cause problems include sugar, white flour, alcohol and caffeine, the Hypoglycemia Support Foundation notes. Replacing offending foods with wholesome foods avoids symptoms. They include lean meats, skinless poultry, whole grains, vegetables and fruit, except for dried fruit and any fruit that causes symptoms. Eating six small meals throughout the day instead of three big meals helps stabilize blood sugar levels. Always have healthy meals and snacks ready to eat to sustain your levels. Never skip breakfast.
Foods to Avoid
Avoid high-fat, sugary or presweetened products. Do not eat fatty marbled meats, hot dogs, cold cuts, sausage, bacon or fried meats. Choose whole grain bread, pasta, rice and unsweetened cereals over refined foods. Avoid sugar-laden donuts, cakes and pastries. Replace with low-fat snacks and sugar substitutes. Select low-fat or fat-free dairy products instead of whole-milk varieties. Avoid glazed or sweetened vegetables, fruit canned in heavy syrups, sweetened fruit juices, regular or caffeinated soda and alcohol.
A low blood sugar diet from Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology starts with a sample breakfast that includes 1/2 cup orange juice, 3/4 cup corn flakes, 1 slice whole wheat toast with 1 teaspoon of margarine and 1 teaspoon of sugar-free jelly, 1 cup skim milk and coffee with creamer or sugar substitute. Lunch may include a 2-ounce lean hamburger on 1 hamburger bun with lettuce and tomato slice, 1/2 cup cooked carrots, tossed salad with 1 tablespoon of Italian dressing, 1 apple, sugar-free gelatin and 1 cup skim milk. For dinner, have 2 ounces of baked chicken breast, 1/2 medium baked potato, 1/2 cup green beans, 1/2 cup sliced strawberries, 1 dinner roll with 1 tsp. diet margarine and diet soda. Healthy snacks throughout the day may include 1 medium orange, 1 cup skim milk with 3 graham crackers, 1/3 cup cranberry juice and 6 saltine crackers with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.