Think of insulin as the key that unlocks the door to your cells. Your body uses insulin to allow glucose, or blood sugar, to gain entry to your cells, giving you energy. If your body has a tendency to make too much insulin, following a diet to prevent blood sugar dips can help to avoid harmful symptoms. Always talk to your doctor before changing your diet, however, because excess insulin production can be associated with an underlying medical condition.
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If you make too much insulin, your cells can use blood sugar too quickly, which can cause your blood sugar to drop to dangerous levels. This condition is known as hypoglycemia, and its symptoms include anxiety, sweating, rapid heartbeat and hunger. The rate at which the body releases insulin is different for every person. While some people may not release enough insulin, others may chronically release too much. If you frequently experience episodes of hypoglycemia, your doctor may recommend testing, such as an oral glucose tolerance test, which can determine how fast your body releases insulin and uses glucose.
When your body makes too much insulin, your treatment plan should consist of solutions for hypoglycemic episodes in which your blood sugar dips too low, as well as long-term food choices aimed at keeping your blood sugar levels higher. Because hypoglycemia can be a serious condition, be prepared to eat a few pieces of sugar-containing candy, drink fruit juice or take a few glucose tablets when you have symptoms of decreasing insulin levels. These diet items can quickly increase your blood sugar levels, and you should keep them on hand to help you deal with blood sugar drops.
Your diet plan should include eating small, frequent meals every three hours to keep your insulin levels from getting too high and your blood sugar from becoming too low. Eating a variety of foods can provide different nutrient sources. This includes protein sources such as meat, poultry, fish and soy. Your diet should also include carbohydrate choices, such as whole-grain bread, potatoes and rice, because these will add to your blood sugar levels. High-fiber fruits and vegetables, such as berries, beans and legumes, can also help you maintain steady blood sugar levels. An example of a small meal could be low-fat yogurt with berries and almonds, or half a turkey sandwich and a side salad.
Foods to Avoid
Certain foods can adversely affect your insulin levels, leading to health problems. These include foods that are especially high in sugar content, including cakes, pies, cookies and sodas, which can cause blood sugar spikes that signal your body to produce even more insulin, leading to hypoglycemia. Alcohol can also result in hypoglycemia. Avoid consuming alcohol and sugary foods on an empty stomach to prevent hypoglycemia from occurring.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.