My Success Story: Hypoglycemia; The Hidden Disease

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My Success Story: Hypoglycemia; The Hidden Disease

I had no reason to feel stressed out. I was the boss, owner of a health food store. The business was doing nicely. So was my husband, in his job. No big problems with the kids, either. They were not yet old enough to get themselves into major problems and in a small town environment life was relaxed and predictable.

So why was I feeling bone-tired, irritable and at odds with the world?

When I passed out behind the wheel while driving to work I realized I was a menace to society.

"You need a vacation," said good old George, my doctor. But that made no sense.

"Maybe it's hypoglycemia," suggested Marg, my knowledgeable employee. She read all the books we carried in the health food store when business was slow.

Cravings for sweet foods, chocolate or alcohol are warning signs of hypoglycemia, an imbalance of the sugar metabolism. When a coke or a chocolate bar supplies us with a short-lived spurt of energy, we have a problem.

Allergies and hypoglycemia show similar symptoms and often go hand in hand. Thus the diagnosis of an allergy, say to chocolate, does not rule out hypoglycemia. On the contrary, it increases the likelihood that we suffer from it.

The first requisite for battling hypoglycemia is an appropriate diet. According to the books I have read, several approaches are available. What all have in common is that they require a healthy, natural, sugar-free and drug-free lifestyle.

Each person embarking on a diet that deals with the ravages of hypoglycemia will face different hurdles. Mine were the socially acceptable drugs: coffee and alcohol.

No food containing sugar is permitted. Instant cereals, baked goods, desserts and soft drinks are obvious targets. But who knows that sugar is added to such unlikely items as ketchup, canned peas and carrots, most soup bases and even frozen fish?

Most of us also eat far more carbohydrates than are permissible. They are converted into sugars. Therefore the amounts of bread and potatoes allowed are minuscule. Rice, pasta, legumes and even corn are off limits.

But how could I possibly start my day without a mug of fresh coffee? How could I possibly relax in the evening without a glass of wine?

Since sugars in any form are a big no-no, breakfast was the most difficult meal for me. With honey and jams, brown sugar and maple syrup for the toast and hot cereals for my family on the table, the recommended cereals -- millet and buckwheat without sweetener -- did not seem to taste too great. An egg somehow called for toast to go with it, and herb tea or hot carob milk seemed like an insult when the smell of freshly brewed coffee hung in the kitchen!

The next difficulty arose from the recommendations of how often I should eat. Breakfast, then a mid-morning snack of fruit, cheese or nuts, lunch and an afternoon snack, dinner and an evening snack. I simply felt I could neither eat that much nor could I possibly keep my weight in check if I did.

But surprisingly I managed to do both. The recommended portions are quite small, keeping blood-sugar levels fairly constant by avoiding overloading and that short-lived false sense of well-being.

It is a good idea to start a "food journal" as well as a "health journal." Certain patterns will emerge, and if you are dealing with allergies, the two journals will also supply valuable clues.

I carried an unlined exercise book in my purse and entered everything I ate or drank with the approximate time. On the "health side" would be little notations saying "felling full of energy - staring such and such job" as the morning entry and in the afternoon "absolutely washed out, got a coke to keep going." Or the day started, "borderline headache since I woke up this morning, took two aspirins," or even something like "really upset about neighbor for letting the dog bark for 10 minutes." And then there is the weather, "Did not sleep much. Hot, humid, kids cranky, neighbors made a racket until midnight - feel rotten."

You will notice that as you gradually enter fewer refined or sugar and caffeine-laced foods on the "food" side, there will be fewer emotional roller-coasters on the "health" side. I am truly amazed when I look into this little book now, many years later, and I am surprised I regularly ate certain foods I would not even consider buying now.

Recommended Reading:

Hypoglycemia by P. Airola (sc) 191pp $11.95

Diabetes and Hypoglycemia by M. Murray (sc) 182pp $11.95

Dr Crook Discusses Hypoglycemia by W. Crook (bklt) 32pp $4.50

Hypoglycemia and Diabetes by K. Donsbach (sc) 80pp $5.95

Canadian Health Reform Products Ltd.

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By Karen Seidemann

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