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Low Sugar Attack/ Hypoglycemia

Yesterday morning to afternoon, I had to sit for an external paper. In the morning, I took coffee and a sandwich made from Gardenia’s Toast ‘Em bread. It’s high in G.I.

Halfway through the exam I made myself a cup of Milo (mixed with coffee) because I was getting hungry and a bit tired (as the first part of the exam was 4.5 hrs). Then, we only had a short break for lunch (about 20 min) which me and another candidate quickly packed the white toast bread with kaya and marjerin. I drank another cup of Milo with added coffee powder.

All candidates were careful not to take any food such as nasi lemak or curry mee– these ‘heavy’ food will cause blood to flow straight to the stomach and less to the brain.

Finally the exams was over. I went with my friend (who is also another candidate) and we had ‘teh tarik‘ (Ceylonese tea with sugar and condensed milk). That was about 4pm.

Not long after I reached home, I started feeling hungry and weak. I was thinking to eat at a restaurant later but as my limbs started shaking a little, I know I am having a mild hypoglycemia attack due to a sudden drop in blood sugar. I had to eat immediately.

I have been eating instant food and drinks that is high in sugar- this had elevated my sugar levels in my blood. When that happens, the pancreas will secrete more insulin hormones. The role of insulin is to bring all the glucose in the blood into the muscles. When that happens and the blood sugar levels drop, the brain will signal to the body that it does not have enough sugar in the blood and then the body will go into hypoglycemia (shivering, weak and on severe cases, the person can faint or go into seizures).

That is why if our sweet tooth were to go out of control, the yo-yo effects of rapid rise and drop in blood sugar levels will make the person constantly hungry even though he/she has just eaten. With no exercise, it gets worse as the circulation system is not effective at utilizing and storing blood sugar, and eventually, this will lead to diabetes type 2 (the muscles does not respond to insulin’s instruction to store glucose).

And most of the time, the person does not know they are hungry all the time because of these reactions going on in their bodies. But because they are not aware of the cause, they often have to battle with feelings of guilt, lack of self worth and lost of confidence (especially when their weight seemed to escalate out of control).

For me, I’ve identified the triggers, changed my lifestyle to incorporate exercise and sensible eating. In my battle with sugar addiction, I’ve experimented with low sugar diet (which I still believe helps a lot during the initial stage to help the yo-yo blood sugar effects to get back into order). Then, I tried low carbs and later monitored the G.I content of my food intake (keep to food in low G.I). During that time, I’ve avoided white bread, white rice and reduced my sugar intake.

Recently, I reintroduce back more carbs into my diet- that include food in high G.I to:

  • maximise my glycogen storage in muscles and thus increasing my exercise endurance- I’ve been able to progress in my exercise intensity (doing cardio longer and at higher intensities) because I’ve learned the role of carbs in exercise. I’ve learned that low carbs diet is detrimental to exercise performance as it makes you lose lean muscle instead of fat(sorry, if you are on low carb). That is why athletes don’t go on a low carb diet.
  • also due to enjoyment factors and convenience- restaurants generally do not cater for delicious low G.I diets- most of the time, we have to be creative in ordering food.

I’ve been exercising regularly since June 06- so after a while, my yo-yo blood sugar levels are under better control.

Yesterday’s hypo attack happened because of stress and also because I was taking refined sugar literally the whole day. Today, I immediately switched back to low to moderate G.I diet because I already know the culprit (sugar) and have no desire for a repeat episode.

For breakfast, I took 4 pieces of Gardenia’s Breakthru bread (G.I less than 50) with chili tuna (no mayo) and cabbages. Of course, I still cannot resist having my 3-in-1 Nescafe breakfast together. Now, I do not feel full or bloated (which normally happens if one takes food rich in refined carbs or oily food) but I am comfortable.

Even though exercise and sensible eating can put sugar cravings under control, it does not mean that it is permanently gone. This type of chronic condition, just like my chronic fatigue, will go into remission but when one is not careful, the past conditions can easily resurfaced.

Anyway, I am thankful that I’ve made the lifestyle change- starting and writing this blog sure had helped me stay consistent. Else, I would have been heading towards the path of getting diabetes (I have a strong family history of diabetes) which will eventually lead to obesity, cholesterol and probably end in heart problem or stroke.

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  • Anonymous July 23, 2008, 3:12 pm

    that’s so funny. I also went off the chocolate wagon today, after keeping on it for 2 weeks. My wife (yes, I blame her!) brought out some Harrods truffle chocolates. I ate four of them, then went out to the Family Mart to buy a big box of nut chocolates, which I ate. I feel so bad now. Like you say, it’s a chronic condition, sometimes in remission. Very true.

  • Sweet August 2, 2008, 1:07 pm

    Hi,
    I eat a well rounded breakfast – oatmeal with almonds, juice or a toasted english muffin, tomato & cheese and juice. Then I go to the gym. During the workout, I crash, white face, dizzy, disoriented and have to completely stop it's so bad. I stopped having fresh apple/orange juice home made in the morning which helped. Now it's just the orange juice doing this. I only have the problem in the morning. What other juices can I have? What else can I do to level this out?

  • Yin Teing August 30, 2008, 5:35 pm

    Anonymous, yes, remission does happen- sometimes we deny and over deprive ourselves. So I’ve learned to be moderate and eat a small piece so that I don’t get ‘chocolates attack’.
    Sweet, your breakfast combination looks ok. Just that if you have juice in the morning on empty stomach, it may trigger hypoglycemia. But if eaten with combination of fiber, it should not be. Still, it’s better to stick to the real orange than the processed juice.

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