Low GI diet for dysglycaemia control
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
Client name and identifying information changed
Amanda wasn’t what you call sick, but she was a little overweight. Her main issue was that she would get loads of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) attacks that would leave her feeling wobbly, fatigued, with poor concentration and often emotional.
Amanda’s diet was all over the place; some days were good when she ate protein and salads or vegetables, and other days she would only eat carbs and then feel terrible for the next two days. This had been her roller coaster diet pattern for the previous 10 years or so.
On the days that Amanda ate loads of carbs her emotions were all over the place and she would get blood sugar irregularities – ‘low sugar attacks’ – that gave her the above mentioned symptoms. She knew when she felt this way that she needed to eat something sweet; it was an inbuilt mechanism of knowing what she needed to do to remedy the situation.
When we discussed how the body responds to sugar/carbs by releasing insulin to counter the surge of sugar in her blood, Amanda finally understood what was going on.
What she wasn’t previously aware of, was the way she started each day governed how she ate and responded for the rest of the day.
If she ate a sweet breakfast of toast and jam, or pancakes with maple syrup and fruit with coffee and sugar, then she would get the hypo attacks a couple of hours later. This sent her into a frenzy, needing something sweet to counter the attack, or so it seemed, but of course this just spiked her blood sugar again, creating another spike in insulin and then another dump where she would feel terrible and had to eat carbs again.
It wasn’t until after eating a good protein based meal for dinner that she would settle down and feel normal again, but would then be very tired from the day of stressful ups and downs.
Amanda’s sleep was also affected by what she ate during the day, so she would wake tired and start the whole process again, needing something sweet to ‘kickstart’ the day and then off on the roller coaster ride of carbs/sugar with spikes and drops.
On weekends, she usually slept in, and then have a meal such as eggs and salad or eggs and bacon for breakfast and feel quite normal and stable all day. Once this was brought to Amanda’s awareness the ‘penny dropped’ and she understood the mechanisms behind how she felt. She thought that she just felt good on weekends because she could sleep in and be more relaxed, and didn’t relate how she felt to what she ate.
With her new awareness, Amanda chose foods that were more stabilising for her blood sugars. By eating low GI foods at the beginning and during the day, Amanda’s energy improved, her moods stabilised, she avoided the blood sugar attacks and feeding frenzies, and had better control of her weight in the process.