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Stress impacts your body. At least, that’s what all of the research tells us. It also impacts your blood sugar, which makes it a very important topic for those of us with hypoglycemia. And, oftentimes, especially as hypoglycemics, we’re so involved in making the correct diet and fitness decisions, that our mental health, our personal well-being goes by the wayside. In this series, we’ll discuss a variety of ways to manage your stress and, in the process, manage your blood sugar.

So I have this friend. Let’s call her Lisa. And her and her husband are about to do something incredibly daring and amazing; they are moving to a foreign country at the end of this year.

That’s amazing enough, but here’s where the incredible part comes in, neither of them are fluent in the language and neither of them have secured jobs yet. But they are going nonetheless.

Right now, they are under quite a bit of stress, and understandably so. Everything about this decision seems very illogical. But you know what? I admire them for doing it anyway and I’m glad they are.

When I think back to the stories that older people have told me about their lives, those that they are the most proud of and those that are the most interesting to tell, it’s never “I worked hard, bought a house, raised a family.” Those are admirable deeds, but it’s the stories about throwing caution to the wind, taking a chance on life, taking a leap of faith, that make life so memorable and make for great stories. The tales of “We went backpacking across Europe for a year” or “I decided to spend two years in Asia volunteering for an aid organization” are the ones I, and I’m guessing we all, want to hear.

And here’s the thing about those stories, some don’t well, but you don’t hear any regrets. Sometimes people come back from backpacking across Europe and are so broke they had to move back in with parents. Sometimes they try something and it fails that they have to come home. But they recover, and they will still tell you it’s worth it. And, when the story is told later, you rarely hear someone focus on the end and what went wrong. They instead focus on the adventure along the way.

So Lisa, I’m 100% in your corner and cheering you on. If it helps to read this post when things become uncertain, it’d be an honor if you did so. Cheers to your new adventure!

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Nice try, Starbucks. Considering that 2.3g sugar = 1 sugar cube, there are the equivalent of almost 9 sugar cubes in this damn can of coffee. That cancels-out any benefits of the 20 grams of protein in my book.

Definitely not hypoglycemic-friendly or anyone-friendly.

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Turkey Tacos for Thanksgiving

 

Never one for convention, I decided to make a Tex-Mex Thanksgiving dinner for my boyfriend and I.  I got this recipe from a comment on Lifehacker’s What’s Your Go To Date Recipe and made one modification. They taste so good and they are very hypoglycemic-friendly (high protein, low carb).

Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of Sauzon (not included in the nutrition info, it wasn’t an option on the calculator).
  • 1 lb package of 97% lean turkey
  • 9 corn (not blended, fully corn) tortillas
  • 3/4 cup Mexican-style shredded cheese
  • 1 red onion, chopped (I only use a small portion on each)
  • 1 5.3 oz cup of Fage Greek Yogurt plain (this is a healthy sour cream substitute)
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Wing sauce

Directions:

  • Toast the corn tortillas on both sides
  • Cook the turkey, add both packets of Sauzon about half way through, cook until brown
  • Sprinkle some of the cheese on the tortillas
  • Add on the turkey
  • Sprinkle on a bit more cheese
  • From original directions: If you need to keep this warm, place in oven on lowest setting until ready to serve
  • Top with 1 Tbsp of Greek Yogurt, some red onion, and however much cilantro you want on each taco
  • Drizzle hot sauce on top
  • Enjoy the deliciousness

Nutrition information (from SparkPeople Recipe Calculator):

Recipe makes 3 servings
Nutritional information is amount Per Serving
  • Calories 440.9
  • Total Fat 11.2 g
  • Saturated Fat 4.8 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
  • Cholesterol 101.6 mg
  • Sodium 724.2 mg
  • Potassium 85.0 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 31.8 g
  • Dietary Fiber 4.0 g
  • Sugars 3.2 g
  • Protein 53.0 g
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

 

 

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I’m really struggling to find new snack ideas for my new hypoglycemic higher protein, less carbohydrate diet. But, I came across this Protein Churro Cheesecake Bars recipe by Epicurean Bodybuilder and decided to try it out.

Verdict:

I loved them! It’s been a long time since I had to practice a huge amount of restraint to stop eating something. For these, I did! These are delicious!

Recipe hints:

  • I couldn’t find the seamless dough sheet at my grocery store, so I used the regular crescent rolls. This worked ok, but I should have rolled the dough a bit to get rid of the creases. The creases made cutting these bars a bit of a challenge.
  • Mine was a bit runny in the middle, even though I baked it for 33 minutes. I put it in the fridge for a bit and that helped them firm-up a bit for easy cutting and dividing into the 20 servings.
  • In the photo, she rolled the dough up the outer edges of the pan. Although not necessary, I think that’s a great idea.

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According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Safe Defrosting Methods:

Food thawed in the refrigerator can be refrozen without cooking, although there may be some loss of quality.

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I recently read A.J. Jacobs’ Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection. Overall, I found it to an incredibly helpful book. Except at the end, where he seems to get lazy and stop researching, he sifts through all of the crap and research and tells you the truth about what works and what doesn’t to improve your health. And he’s hilarious. I’m not a laugh-out-loud kind of person, but I was constantly while reading this book. I definitely recommend it.

Below are some of my favorite parts, categorized for you. You’re welcome.

Exercise/Fitness

Exercise, argues Ratey, improves your brain in both the short term (you’re sharper for the couple of hours after aerobic activity) and the long term (it staves off brain aging and Alzheimer’s). It bucks up the brain in all sorts of areas, including focus, memory, mood, and impulse control. Kindle location 2178

When it comes to fitness, Americans like to reinforce stereotypes: Women prefer community. Men are rugged individualists. Kindle location 3008

The benefits are many: raised endurance, lower blood sugar, improved lung capacity, and weight loss. HIIT seems to alter the metabolism and muscle structure, so you burn more calories throughout the day. Kindle location 2074

I’m doing HIIT only once a week. First, because there need to be more long-term studies—such as whether it prevents heart disease as effectively as normal exercise. Kindle location 3080

Memory Recall

“Ribot’s Law,” named for the French psychologist who first studied it. The more times we recall a memory, the more encoded it becomes. Kindle location 2223

One MRI study showed that giving to charity lights up the pleasure centers of the brain. It’s been called “helper’s high.” A 2004 Johns Hopkins study concluded that volunteering slows mental and physical aging. Kindle location 2243

Toxins

Toxin obsession reminds me of the intricate rules on kosher eating that I learned when living by the Bible. Organic eaters look at chemicals the same way Orthodox Jews look at pork—as impure, almost repulsive. There’s this mistaken idea that natural is good, says Seavey. But arsenic and hemlock are natural. Likewise, there’s the fallacious idea that natural products don’t have chemicals. But they do. The ACSH claims on its website that “of the chemicals people eat, 99.99 percent are natural.” Kindle location 2332

The American Cancer Society estimates that environmental toxins cause 34,000 deaths a year. In 2010, a presidential panel said that number could be “grossly underestimated.” There are 80,000 chemicals used in industrial processes, and only two hundred of them have been tested by the EPA. Kindle location 2353

Second, he says he’ll never microwave anything in plastic again. Kindle location 2363

Teeth

…prevent tooth decay. This is especially true if the gum contains xylitol, a sweetener found in such brands as Ricochet, PowerBite, and some Trident products, because bacteria can’t break it down. Kindle location 2458

Religion

Numerous studies have shown that religion and health are linked. A study by the University of Texas’s Population Research Center found that those who made weekly visits to a house of worship lived, on average, seven years longer than those who never visit. Kindle location 2475

But before you go out and buy a stack of Bibles, let me toss in a whole bunch of caveats. As Sapolsky points out, studying religion’s impact on health is tricky. There are tons of complicating factors. For one thing, some religious people might be less likely to smoke or drink heavily. Plus, he says, “Religion can be very good at reducing stressors, but it is often the inventor of those stressors in the first place.” If you believe that masturbation will land you in hell, your cortisol will rise. In any case, there’s at least some correlation between religion and health. Kindle location 2480

Breathing

This stomach-breathing turned out to be a life changer. A small life changer, but still. When I run, I stomach-breathe, and I don’t do nearly as much huffing and puffing as I used to. It saves me from that unpleasant burning-chest feeling. Kindle location 2663

Meditation

The medical benefits are rock-solid: lower rates of depression and heart disease, improved attention. Kindle location 2669

The key is to let the noise glide through your brain without stopping to interpret it. Don’t try to block out the sound waves. Just notice them as they float by, and say, “Isn’t that interesting.” Kindle location 2679

Diet

There’s lots of evidence in favor of a plant-based diet, but the notion that uncooked plants are healthier than cooked plants remains unproven. Kindle location 2763

Paleo skeptics—such as Marion Nestle—argue that plants from prehistoric kitchens wouldn’t leave fossils. Kindle location 2787

As always in nutrition, the sugar debate is a big old murky mess of evidence. But I do think there’s a good chance that sugar is a lot worse than we’ve long thought. So I’m going to give it up for at least two weeks. No juices, no granola, nothing with the dreaded suffix “ose.” Kindle location 2801

But most believe that, as far as sugar substitutes go, stevia is the healthiest. Kindle location 2835

I’m sure you’ve heard we should be drinking eight eight-ounce glasses a day. It’s a handy mnemonic, but turns out, it’s based on flimsy or nonexistent evidence. The Mayo Clinic puts it this way: “If you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce between one and two liters or more of colorless or slightly yellow urine a day, your fluid intake is probably adequate.” Kindle location 3284

Ice-cold water is probably healthier. Kindle location 3335

Anti-Aging, Skincare

Of all the dozens of wrinkle-preventing options, just a few actually work. The most established: tretinoin, known more widely as Retin-A. Kindle location 2882

Plus Retin-A has other downsides. It makes skin more likely to get sunburned as it allows in more UV light. And God knows what other unforeseen side effects will bubble up over the years. Not to mention that it’s a money vacuum. Kindle location 2902

The American Academy of Dermatology suggests a shot-glass-ful of sunscreen every two to four hours. You should apply it regardless of the weather—whether it’s cloudy (80 percent of UV rays penetrate clouds) or winter (especially with snow, which reflects sunlight). Kindle location 2922

The quarrel between dermatologists and vitamin-D advocates is an example of a problem infecting all medicine: the specialty bias. Most experts see the world through the prism of their specialty. Kindle location 2938

Sleep

More and more studies show undersleeping’s deadly sway. It contributes to heart disease and hypertension. It hobbles our immune system. In the United States, one hundred thousand sleep-related car crashes occur every year. It impairs our cognitive function, effectively lowering our IQ and our ability to pay attention. Kindle location 3114

A survey by the National Association of Home Builders says 60 percent of custom houses will have dual master bedrooms by 2015. Kindle location 3130

Balancing health and family

The health project is taking time away from my family. Which is probably not healthy. Kindle location 3361

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy—the use of scented essential oils—isn’t bad, necessarily, especially if accompanied by a foot rub. But it’s about as scientific as numerology. Kindle location 3553

Aromatherapists make sweeping statements like “vanilla will relax you.” But it depends on experience. Kindle location 3610

Eyes

I recently met one of the inventors of the Lasik technology, and guess what? He still wears glasses. He’s wary of taking the risk. That gave me pause. Kindle location 3944

Accidents

Lisa Belkin wrote a provocative article about this topic in The New York Times. As she points out, the five things that cause the most injuries to children eighteen and under are car accidents, homicide (usually by someone they know), child abuse, suicide, and drowning. And the top-five things that parents are most concerned about, according to Mayo Clinic research: kidnapping, school snipers, terrorists, dangerous strangers, and drugs. Kindle location 4082

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This published on my “About” page, but I don’t think you all get notifications about that, so I’m publishing it here because I hoping it’ll be useful information for a lot of folks:

Question:

Hi! I am in my 30’s and am struggling with hypoglycemia. Normally, I could control it or catch it before it drops too low, but recently it is just dropping constantly. My whole day is revolving around food and eating to try to not feel the symptoms that I can’t avoid. I have gone to my Dr and to a nutritionist. I really need to be in contact with people who understand and need to find more information and hopefully, something can help me. I am very interested in this blog. And your story sounds close to mine. The only thing is I am not even able to go more than an hour and a half without eating. And it is frustrating and scary going through this on a daily basis. Morning are most difficult and trying to plan my foods, eat and balance my blood sugar to start my day, and simply just get ready for my day is getting to be overwhelming to say the least. Any help would be so much appreciated. Thanks!

Answer:

Hi Dorthyann,

I’m really glad you find this blog helpful, but I’m also really sorry to hear what you are going through!

The first thing that comes to mind is that you are not eating enough protein and/or eating too many carbs. This usually causes the blood sugar rollercoaster.

Try this:
Eat a TON of protein. I would opt for more than 20 grams each time you eat. I’d try a giant (unbreaded, unsauced…both add carbs/sugar) piece of chicken, 4 eggs, at least 1/2 a pack of tofu, or something else, but do your homework and make sure you are eating the 20 g of protein. I often ballpark less and that’s when I have issues. Nuts are great filler (and will provide good fat), but you’d have to eat a lot of them. Here is a post on a variety of protein sources: https://hypoglycemiaresource.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/reader-question-protein-sources-other-than-nuts/

With your protein, eat no more than 30 g of carbohydrates and make them a COMPLEX carb. My top recommendation here would be beans (black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, black beans). Beans are a great source of fiber, which studies have shown helps regular your blood sugar. They also add even more protein (although I wouldn’t include this in your total 20 g count, the idea is to get your protein very high!). Make sure and measure out your portion so you don’t go over 30 grams. For variety, you can do some other complex carbs such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice, but again, measure your portion carefully and beans should be your primary.

With your protein and beans, eat a ton of other non-starch vegetables. My top choices here are spinach, kale, green beans, broccoli, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, cabbage. Again, if you are eating them in a salad, NO DRESSING other than olive oil or pure vinegar; dressings add a ton of sugar. I recommend eating them raw or steamed. This will also drive-up your fiber intake which should help. I eat 5-8 servings of vegetables a day.

If you do the above EVERY MEAL, you should see a dramatic improvement. The minute you vary, you’ll have issues. Here’s how it changed my life: https://hypoglycemiaresource.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/new-higher-protein-less-carb-diet-works/

There are other things that I’ve heard can cause erratic blood sugar and so these are also things to consider, but I’m not recommending treating them and ignoring the diet advice above:
– Lack of sleep
– Significant stress
– Caffeine, nicotine, or any other stimulant.
– Illness

Finally, I recommend finding a diabetes specialist. It doesn’t sound like you are getting the right advice. And, just a reminder: I am in no way a medical professional and anything you read on here should be checked with the appropriate medical professional before implementing.

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