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Reactive Hypoglycemia: Foods to Avoid

author image Francine Juhasz
Francine Juhasz has a doctorate in clinical psychology and is a Qi Gong and yoga teacher, health and nutrition freelance journalist and featured self-help and life-skills speaker. For more than 30 years she has conducted programs, workshops, seminars and private counseling sessions in emotional, mental, marital and sexual health and fitness in universities, elder-care communities and community centers in both the U.S. and Europe.
Reactive Hypoglycemia: Foods to Avoid
A chocolate bar with hazelnuts. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images


Reactive hypoglycemia can occur when blood glucose levels fall one to three hours after eating. Glucose resources in the liver are depleted and the body begins using muscle protein to feed glucose to brain cells. Difficult to diagnose, this condition requires consultation with a doctor. Although reactive hypoglycemia also requires frequent snacks, some foods must be avoided because they can worsen symptoms of dizziness, confusion, shaking muscles and racing heart by causing rebound hypoglycemia.


Reactive Hypoglycemia: Foods to Avoid
A close-up of gummy candies. Photo Credit Grigory Stepanov/iStock/Getty Images

When the level of blood glucose falls in a person suffering from reactive hypoglycemia, a snack or even a meal must be eaten. What must be avoided is reaching for a candy bar or sweets.

The McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois reports that candy as a snack to bring glucose levels back up may actually worsen the symptoms of hypoglycemia. Candy, because it consists of a simple sugar and is very high in carbohydrates, may cause blood levels to rise very quickly and than fall rapidly which can bring on rebound hypoglycemia.

All sugary foods must be shunned. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases warns that generous helpings of sweets are to be avoided at all cost, especially on an empty stomach.

Rather than candy, a more helpful choice is a complex carbohydrate food such as a bread stick, soft pretzel, bagel or cracker.

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Cola Beverages

Reactive Hypoglycemia: Foods to Avoid
A woman drinks a glass of cola. Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Those suffering from the dizziness, confusion, weakness and even sleepiness caused by falling glucose levels, may reach for a cola beverage to alleviate these symptoms.

If these symptoms are caused by reactive hypoglycemia, and only your doctor will know that for certain, cola beverages are to be avoided together with candy. Like a candy bar, a sweet cola beverage is high in carbohydrates and can cause sugar levels in the blood to spike and then fall, bringing on a heightening of hypoglycemic symptoms.

Energy drinks are also to be avoided in the reactive hypoglycemic individual because of the sugar and the caffeine they contain. These substances, although briefing raising sugar levels, cannot keep the body from using muscle protein to feed sugar-deprived brain cells.

Fruit Juice

Reactive Hypoglycemia: Foods to Avoid
Dried fruit for sale at a market. Photo Credit EP-stock/iStock/Getty Images

Although a piece of fruit high in fiber content is a good choice when the symptoms of reactive hypoglycemia recur, fruit juice is not. The sugar of several pieces of fruit can be found in a small glass of fruit juice, together with any sugar additives. Fruit juice because of its high sugar content is to be avoided for it can also worsen hypoglycemia symptoms.

Choose instead a glass of water and an apple, a banana or dried fruits such as apricots, raisins or figs. A kiwi, orange or a pear is also a good snack choice.


Reactive Hypoglycemia: Foods to Avoid
A pint of beer. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Alcohol is not a good choice for reactive hypoglycemic individuals for it, too, contains sugar. If you must drink alcohol, accompany it with food and do not drink on an empty stomach. Also be careful to avoid sugary sodas used as mixers. Check with your doctor to find out if alcohol is permitted in your diet.

Caffeinated Drinks

Reactive Hypoglycemia: Foods to Avoid
A cup of black coffee. Photo Credit danienel/iStock/Getty Images

Although alcohol, sweetened sodas and fruit juice are to be avoided in a reactive hypoglycemic diet, coffee, tea and chocolate drinks must also be shunned or limited.

Caffeine, present in coffee, chocolate and green tea, rather than helping restore glucose balance, may only aggravate this condition.

Once again, choose water or an unsweetened low-fat yogurt drink. You can make your own by adding yogurt to water and stirring the drink until it is dissolved.

Fatty Foods

Reactive Hypoglycemia: Foods to Avoid
A bowl of white bean soup. Photo Credit vikif/iStock/Getty Images

Avoid fatty foods and substitute these with low fat dairy products, lean meat, peanut butter and legumes such as beans, peas and lentils for your protein sources.

Use olive oil or margarine sparingly and choose low-fat mayonnaise.

The Health and Wellness Department of Indiana University suggests combining a complex carbohydrate, a fat and a protein source in each meal. Salads with beans, bean soup and crackers, low-fat cheese on crackers and bagels with low-fat cream cheese are possibilities.

These are only suggestions. Always follow your doctor's advice on what nutrition is best for you.

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