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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Low Blood Sugar and The Holiday Blues

Caution: Consult a medical professional if you have major depression, a potentially dangerous condition that requires correct diagnosis and treatment. Home remedies should only be used with medical approval. Also, check with your medical professional for prescription drug contraindications, and double check with your pharmacist to be extra sure.

From now until the new year I'm going to write about depression, focusing on a remedy per day. Today's post is about low blood sugar as a cause of depression. And by depression, I do not mean major depression. I mean something more like the holiday blues.

When your blood sugar drops, your brain cannot function properly, and one possible result of this is depression. So let's consider what could cause your blood sugar to drop.

First of all, and most obviously, not eating! Some of us get so busy preparing for the holidays we forget to eat when we should, or we remember, but we just keep going anyway. Keep your blood sugar up with regular meals, and healthy between-meal snacks such as peanut butter and crackers or cheese and crackers.

If you're prone to low blood sugar, a condition known as hypoglycemia, your doctor may have recommended you eat six smaller meals per day. This is a good way to keep your blood sugar consistent even if you have not been diagnosed as hypoglycemic. If you are diabetic, however, do not change your diet without medical approval.

Other dietary insults that can drive down your blood sugar are sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. Many years ago, sugar was recommended for hypoglycemics experiencing a drop in blood sugar. Now that the condition is better understood, it has been recognized that the quick sugar pick-me-up raises the blood sugar but can then cause it to drop even lower! So don't grab a candy bar, grab the protein and cracker type snacks mentioned earlier, or some other healthy snack with protein, and perhaps some fruit juice along with it if you're really crashing.

Plan ahead for times when your sugar may drop. If you're going shopping, slip a healthy snack into your pocket or purse. Don't wait until you're ravenous; eat your snack based on the amount of time since you last ate, your activity level, or the beginnings of feeling hungry.

If you work at home or in an office where you can grab a quick nibble, keep something handy. I keep a small jar of raw organic cashews on my desk, refilled every few days from the package in the fridge so they don't spoil. When I'm in the middle of something and don't want to stop to eat, I can grab a handful. If I'm in a video chat in Skype and need to take a nibble, I always offer some to the other person, holding it up to the camera so they can reach through and grab a few :-) a courtesy they really appreciate!

If you're trying to lose weight, and think you shouldn't eat between meals, consider this: if your blood sugar drops too low you're likely to overeat at the next meal.

Keep your blood sugar and your mood up, and have a happier, healthier holiday season!

Recommended Reading:

Low Blood Sugar and You by Carlton Fredericks, out of print, but you can still get it at Amazon.

The Sugar Blues by William Dufty, available at Amazon.

Hypoglycemia - the NIH website's official, in-depth explanation. Note that they discuss hypoglycemia in diabetics and non-diabetics. For diabetics, they recommend a glucose quick-fix. This is because excess insulin can cause a severe and dangerous drop in blood sugar fairly rapidly and must be corrected quickly. Scroll down to their section on non-diabetic hypoglycemia, and you'll see that for such people they recommend non-sugary foods, and give other recommendations, similar to what I have mentioned in this blog.

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