Its breakfast time for the kids and you’re scrambling to get them fed, teeth brushed, dressed correctly, and rushed out the door, all the meanwhile trying to get yourself ready and halfway presentable (if you’re lucky). And in that whole process, you may have grabbed a bite out of a half-eaten pancake, a slice of an apple, or a swig of their shake, if even that.
Then it hits. Two hours later you can’t think straight, you’re irritated at everyone, you might feel little light-headed and . . . oh yeah . . . did I mention irritated?
Girl, I hear you. Loud, and, clear. Welcome to the world of reactive hypoglycemia, otherwise known as low blood sugar. It's not fun and oh so very common.
Before I give you a few tips on this, including what fixed it for me, let’s briefly talk a little physiology.
You’ve heard of blood sugar, or blood glucose. It’s basically one of the main sources of fuel your body uses for energy. If energy is a fire, picture glucose as being the logs put on the fire to keep it burning at a nice steady pace.
We need glucose in our blood for a lot of reasons but a main one is for your brain. You see, the brain and nervous system needs a steady supply of glucose all the time or . . . the fire burns out. Not good. Poor energy production by the brain leads to all of those lovely symptoms we experience if we skip a meal or don’t eat for way too long – irritability, shakiness, light-headedness, brain fog, hard time concentrating, etc.
What’s the remedy? Eat every couple of hours. Yeah, right. I'm lucky to get a sip of water, let alone figure out something to eat that actually sounds halfway decent every couple of hours. For me, there was a better answer, but before that, just how irritable is irritable?
A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that individuals with low blood sugar were more likely to stick pins in a voodoo doll that was a representation of their significant other. In fact people with the lowest blood sugar stuck their spouse-voodoo-doll twice as much as those with normal blood sugar.
Yup, if you’re getting mad at your husband, it might not be him, it might be your low blood sugar. (Okay, let’s be honest…it’s probably him)
Here’s the thing – we should be able to skip meals and not feel any negative symptoms. Biochemically speaking, our body is well equipped to go for a long time without food and not feel any symptoms of low blood sugar. In fact, you should be able to go a couple of days without food (not hours, days), and the only thing you should feel is hungry. Not irritable.
The fact that we feel that way a few hours without food is pointing to the fact that something is not working correctly.
That said, if you experience low blood sugar symptoms, here are a few things to try:
- Eat every couple of hours. No it isn’t easy, but a little planning ahead of time – some dried fruit, beef jerky, or a protein bar in your purse or glove compartment can come in very handy.
- B-Complex vitamin. Without going too deeply into the science of it, there are a couple vitamins you’ll find in a B-complex that can help support your body in making its own glucose, but only if you’re deficient in these vitamins in the first place. (They are vitamin B6 and biotin, in case you’re wondering).
- This was the life saver for me. I tried taking 2 grams of carnitine a day (in divided doses) and it made a world of difference. In other words, while I was taking my carnitine, I could skip meals and didn’t even notice I had. It was amazing. And when I forgot to take my carnitine, I could tell.
Crazy right? "Hanger" - legitimate and fixable.