How Long Can a Person With Diabetes Go Without Food?

A person with diabetes cannot go without food for long. If they don't eat regularly, their blood glucose level can plummet.

People with diabetes should eat snacks and meals on a schedule because a delay of as little as half an hour can lower blood sugar, which can have catastrophic results. Diabetes makes you especially prone to a condition known as hypoglycemia, a reaction caused by too much insulin in the bloodstream.

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Once a person with diabetes takes insulin, it is important to eat something within 30 minutes before blood sugar begins dropping. The dose of insulin you take must also match the amount of carbohydrates you consume in order to keep blood sugar levels under control.

Hypoglycemia

When a person with diabetes does not eat enough food, but still administers insulin, blood glucose levels can drop dangerously low, inducing hypoglycemia. Early signs of hypoglycemia include dizziness, weakness, headache, hunger or shakiness.

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If blood glucose drops too low, a person can become confused or even lose consciousness. In some cases, insulin shock can lead to coma. Although all people with diabetes experience hypoglycemia at times, according to the American Diabetes Association, you should talk to your doctor about what your blood glucose levels should be.

When hypoglycemia occurs, you need to get some sugar into your body quickly. Fruit juice, milk, a few pieces of hard candy, or a tablespoon of sugar or honey can help raise glucose levels in the blood temporarily.

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Managing Diet

People with diabetes often need to adjust the doses of insulin they take depending on how many grams of carbohydrates they eat for a meal or snack. While this balance can be different for one person than for another, counting the carbohydrates you consume allows you to maintain a healthful blood glucose level.

According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, how well a person with diabetes can manage their disease depends not only on what they eat, but also on when they eat it. Eating more often can help keep blood glucose levels steady. Planning three regular meals with snacks in between can prevent blood sugar from fluctuating. You should not go more than four hours without eating a meal or snack. This keeps your body fueled throughout the day.

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