Hypoglycemia is a real medical condition, but most of us have experienced mild cases of hypoglycemia at one time or another - or, as in my case, very frequently.
I've never been one for skipping breakfast, but I would get hypoglycemic after being out all morning and into the early afternoon without taking a lunch break. I also remember getting that empty shaky feeling after a long day of work: by 6 pm I would be ravenous. I couldn't concentrate on anything before getting something to eat. And "getting something to eat" was preferably something sweet and starchy.
Hypoglycemia occurs when your bloodsugar is low. It's something that is potentially very dangerous when you're diabetic, and normally simply uncomfortable if you're not.
Most low fat diet plans recommend eating every two or three hours. This is mainly to avoid becoming hypoglycemic. Because that's when most people find they cannot resist the urge to eat the foods that are not allowed on their diet.
A couple of days ago, the blog The Kitchn featured a couple who follow a paleo lifestyle. I thought the photography was beautiful and inspirational - there was nothing boring about the way they displayed their food - but I thought the article and the subsequent comments were very interesting.
For one thing, and this has nothing to do with hypoglycemia, it was immediately obvious that there are many different ways of low carb eating. Some follow the Atkins Diet, others follow Mark Sisson's Daily Apple, and others recommended Cordain's The Primal Diet. The array of fruits and the dessert recipes in the article were beautiful to look at, even though I eat very little fruit myself. Many Paleo adherents don't consume dairy products, while I do.
The other thing that struck me was the following post in the comments:
This is the first I've heard of the Paleo Diet and I'm interested to try it out! My one concern is that I'm hypoglycemic and I rely heavily on grains to get enough sugar in my diet. Should I even bother trying?The answer is yes!
You see, when you strictly limit your carbohydrate consumption, you no longer become hypoglycemic when you haven't eaten in a while.
What this poster didn't understand is that relying heavily on grains is the exact opposite of what you need to do when you have this tendency.
Low glycemic meals typically contain very little carbohydrate. When you eat more proteins and fats, and none of the carbs, your system tends to run quite a lot longer before you feel the need to eat again.
Even when your stomach is empty, you don't get that unpleasant hypoglycemic feeling because you are no longer a slave to your insulin.
There are so many benefits to ditching grains and sugar, and this is an important one. I'm coming across more an more people who feel healthier than ever and recognize openly that there is absolutely no reason to ever consider returning to their previous way of eating. As this poster says very succinctly:
Mostly I'm low carb for the health benefits now. I have been able to get off blood pressure meds, statins, and am no longer pre-diabetic. I still have weight to lose, but the lab numbers are fantastic and I'm healthier than ever. I now want to go for a long walk, instead of thinking of it as a chore...That's how I feel as well. And what a bonus it is to be able to go out for a couple of hours without having to worry about getting hypoglycemic anymore.