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The Daily Beet: Tips, Advice and Stories

What is in your way? QOTD: Low Blood Sugar

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On February 4th we are launching a national Engine 2 Challenge! 100′s of Whole Foods Markets will be participating and offering classes, meals and more. We will be offering free eBooks for the challenge level you choose as well with new meal plans, shopping lists and recipes.

To prepare for the challenge, we are asking questions every day on Facebook to get you mentally prepared. One of the recent questions was: “What is in your way to becoming plant-strong?”

So we are going to be answering those questions and concerns right here on the blog through the entire Engine 2 Challenge!

We will start with  Kristen: 

For me, it’s the blood Sugar thing…working as a massage therapist, my sugar drop quickly! I’m fine with no meat, but whey protein & hard boiled eggs are quick sources of protein I can have between clients (busy chiro office), & those 2 things (along with shakeology & kind bars) are what seem to help prevent the shaky blood sugar drop!

E2 Answer: 

Blood sugar is an interesting topic. We’d first encourage anyone who thinks they are having low blood sugar to get a blood sugar monitor to see what their sugar is actually dropping to. Often it is not low blood sugar that is the issue. If you have low blood sugar it is best to tal to your Doctor, as low blood sugar can be a very serious condition.

Next, we would encourage you to read this great article by Dr.McDougall on low blood sugar: http://www.drmcdougall.com/med_hypoglycemia.html

From the article: “The disruption and removal of fibers from plant foods, through the processes of refining, causes the blood sugars to drop low enough to cause symptoms. For a simple example, if a whole apple is ground into apple sauce, your pancreas will produce more insulin in response to your eating the apple sauce than it would if you ate the whole apple. This greater quantity of insulin can lower your blood sugar down to the levels of hypoglycemia within a couple of hours. This response is further exaggerated if the disrupted fibers have been removed to make apple juice. Grinding of whole grains, such as brown rice, into rice flour will cause a similar increase in insulin response with exaggerated falls in blood sugar levels. Thus, it is important not only to eat vegetable foods, but, for a few very sensitive individuals, to eat those foods only as nature provided them–unprocessed, complete with all their fibers.

The second mechanism involves the many kinds of fats that are introduced so generously into the American diet. These fats inhibit insulin function, causing “insulin resistance.” With poorly functioning insulin, the blood sugar levels rise too high. As a consequence of the high sugar more insulin is produced, finally catching up and surpassing the body’s needs. This excess insulin soon drives the sugar to hypoglycemic levels. This paralysis of insulin function is seen with adult-onset diabetes and hypoglycemia.”

The key being that is important to eat WHOLE food to help control blood sugar levels.

A few things you can do: 
Make sure breakfast fills you up. Have a giant bowl of rolled oats and fruit for breakfast. We’re not talking about one of those wimpy packets of oatmeal, but a good portion.

Take healthy meals to work with you. We love new potatoes (even cold) with hummus, whole fruit, vegetables, brown rice and beans, salads, soups. Don’t think of it as snacking, but including extra meals in your day. The only guideline is to eat until you are comfortably full.

Processed foods like you mentioned above (kind bars, shakeology and whey protein)  and high fat/high protein foods are just going to make the issue worse for you. In the short run you might feel temporary relief, but over the course of the day you are just exasperating the problem.

Stick to whole, plant-based foods and more frequent meals. And most importantly, structure your day in a way that you can eat and be healthy.

About the author

Natala is the director of communications for Engine 2 Diet, she is also one of our coaches on our support site, Engine 2 Extra. A few years ago, Natala was at the end of her rope. She was on almost 15 medications daily, had out of control Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, issues with nerve damage, and was morbidly obese. She was just over 30 years old. She decided to take her life back by becoming plant-strong. She has lost over 200 pounds, got off of all of her medications and now has great health numbers. Natala plays the violin and studied music therapy. She became passionate about plant-strong nutrition, received her Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University, a certificate in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and is currently pursuing a degree in nutritional sciences. Natala is also a featured speaker at our Engine 2 Retreats she talks about the reality of our nations obesity epidemic as well as providing practical steps to becoming a healthier person.

3 Responses to “What is in your way? QOTD: Low Blood Sugar”

  1. Cheryl says:

    This is 100% THE TRUTH. For years I suffered from low blood sugar, I carried sugar tabs with me, had a medical alert bracelet, couldn’t even workout because of it. I started a plant-based diet in within a couple of months my low blood sugar was gone. I also recommend that people actually test, I have friends and family that will swear up and down that it is low, but then when they test it is actually fine.
    I bring fruit with me, sometimes a small handful of nuts, I love mighty muffins and take a couple with me when I know I’m not going to be eating.

  2. Lisa says:

    agree – eating plant-strong fixed this for me. I like what you said about making time, I was always rushing around and forgetting to eat! I had to make eating a priority.

  3. Leah says:

    I’m not diabetic or pre-diabetic, but my blood sugar used to just crash after 3 or 4 hours of not eating during the day! I would get a headache and feel desperate to eat something. It controlled my life and I had to make sure to always have snacks on hand during long days at grad school, etc, or else I’d have to go home sick. Within 2 months after going plant-based in 2011 this totally went away. It doesn’t come back. I can even take part in fasts now, and I don’t have a blood sugar crash even after a 24 hour fast. Of course I’m hungry, though! :) This is a total revelation to me and is one of the most obvious ways plant-based eating has literally changed my life!

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    The Engine 2 blog will feature tips, plant-strong success stories, how to make plant-strong work, answer your questions and feature special guest experts. Our goal is to provide you with the tools to help you become and stay plant-strong. Please be sure to jump in the conversation by leaving comments on each post!
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