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Posts Tagged ‘Hypoglycemia’

Photo of two legs, one with a large post-knee surgery brace on it. The other leg has a colorful sock on it that goes up to the knee

Welcome to life after knee surgery. Luckily, the way we handled my hypoglycemia during the surgery made low blood sugar a non-issue while I was recovering. The sock is a compression sock from a friend, a nice gift and very helpful!

 

Last Friday I had to have knee surgery (I’m doing well), which meant “going under” with general anesthesia.

Obviously, anesthesia and hypoglycemia together present some unique challenges, since you can’t eat for a long period prior to your surgery, which impacts your blood sugar.

Here’s how we managed to make it work:

Pre-surgery

  • My surgeon and I discussed my hypoglycemia and we scheduled my surgery as the first surgery of the day to minimize impact.
  • When I went in for my pre-op appointment with the nurses and and anesthesiologist, I discussed my hypoglycemia at length and problem-solved a plan.
  • I had to stop eating at 9 pm the day before my surgery.  At 8:50 pm, I ate a high-protein meal, consisting of one serving of this chili mac (I’m not sure why, but it really keeps my sugar even), 1 serving of oyster crackers in the chili mac, and 100 calorie bowl of Greek yogurt. So yeah, huge protein intake and low sugar intake.
  • From 9 pm until when we left our house the morning of the surgery (5:00 am ish), I was allowed to drink water and the regular versions of Gatorade/Powerade, which helped boost my blood sugar, especially in the morning.
  • Admittedly, when we got to the hospital, I was hungry and had to distract myself with the TV. I wished I’d eaten more at 8:50 the night before, but I’m not sure I should have, as they recommend you eat light.
  • I told EVERY single nurse, assistant, etc. that I interacted with the day of the surgery that “I’m severely hypoglycemic” so there was no misunderstandings of someone not knowing.
  • My fiance carried a snack bag with him, which included protein powder, Gatorade, and some Kind bars. Admittedly, I didn’t touch these, but I still think it’s always good to have some sort of plan.

During surgery

  • While I haven’t confirmed this, the surgeon had told me prior to the surgery that he was going to put a sugar IV on me to keep my blood sugar from crashing.

Post-surgery

  • Oh man was I nauseous coming out of surgery! This obviously presented a huge problem.
  • I was able to drink 1/2 a can of Coke and eat 2 graham crackers after surgery.
  • On the way home, we stopped for a protein shake, which I figured I could stomach. I picked one I really love, this Protein Velvet Ice from PJ’s Coffee (vanilla in case you ever go on a coffee run for me). Normally I only allow myself a small, but I needed as much calories/protein as possible, so we went for a large. I sucked it all down.  Be careful with protein shakes, dear readers, check the sugar, most aren’t as healthy as they look!
  • Now here’s where I messed up: I should have made myself continually take small bites of food all day (high protein, low fat, low carb foods). But I didn’t, and I paid for it. Instead, I waited til dinner and then tried to eat. I almost threw up. So, I had to eat very, very slowly; it took me about 2 hours to eat 500 calories of food. Not good. Again, learn from my mistake; make yourself eat just a few bites every 15 minutes or so throughout the day.
  • Because I had so much trouble eating, I did continue to sip on Gatorade until I could eat more regularly. Again, I think eating more regularly would have been healthier though.
  • After I was back to eating normally (about a day), I had worked-out a plan with my dietician ahead of time where I cut back each meal 100 calories (unless I was hungry) to help me not gain weight during recovery.

And there you have it! Not a pleasant experience, but a way to go through general anesthesia as a hypoglycemic and survive with minimal blood sugar issues!

 

 

 

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The plate includes scrambled eggs with corn & black beans, 1 piece raisin/cinnamon toast (I prefer whole wheat) with peanut butter, a tiny portion of oatmeal with a tablespoon of almonds, an apple and coffee with cream only. The banana and Cheerios are for breakfast #2 (long day).

Breakfast at Hyatt Place in Washington D.C. The plate includes scrambled eggs with corn & black beans, 1 piece raisin/cinnamon toast (I prefer whole wheat) with peanut butter, a tiny portion of oatmeal with a tablespoon of almonds, an apple and coffee with cream only. The banana and Cheerios are for breakfast #2 (long day).

One of the best rules I made when I started traveling a lot was that, unless impossible, I would stay at hotels that included breakfast.

As a hypoglycemic, breakfast is a crucial part of maintaining your blood sugar. When you wake up in the morning, your blood sugar is really low. I recommend eating a snack right away and then heading down for the included breakfast.

Why does an included breakfast make such a difference? Learn from me, it’s not a good idea to be running around with low blood sugar looking for a breakfast place that’s open. And I have’ had instances where I’ve planned ahead and thought, “Oh, there’s a place right across from the hotel” and then, upon arrival, found out it’s closed, or the prices are ridiculous. By staying a hotel with breakfast included, you eliminate most if not all of the risk of an emergency first thing in the morning. It’s also short walk to breakfast, and you can leave your wallet in your room.

“Continental breakfast” = a bad idea

I’m often attending events that offer a “continental breakfast” and I still stay at a hotel with breakfast included and eat breakfast the hotel. Similarly, I avoid any hotels that say they offer a “continental breakfast.” While the definition varies, from experience a continental breakfast means all carbs and low or no protein; essentially a recipe for a really bad hypoglycemic episode.

I only stay at places that offer a “hot breakfast” or “full breakfast” and I look for photos or call to see what’s included in breakfast.  Primarily, “Do you have eggs?”

My favorite hotel chains for breakfast

When traveling personally, especially overseas, I try to opt for bed and breakfasts, but when I’m traveling for work, it’s almost always a hotel chain that I stay at.

Here are my favorite hotel chains that offer free breakfast:

Hyatt Place: By far my preferred hotel to stay in while traveling. The rooms are nice, spacious, always include a mini-fridge, they have a 24/7 reasonably-priced food ordering service, and their breakfast is mostly consistent and always has several high protein options.

Residence Inn: Second of my favorites, most rooms have a full or almost full (missing the oven) kitchen in them and also include free breakfast with good protein options. The last Residence Inn I stayed at I noticed they put a lot more effort into breakfast during the week than weekends, with more options and real plates/napkins on weekdays  and more limited options and paper plates/napkins (which kills the environmentalist in me) on weekends.

Double-Tree Inn: Honestly I don’t have much experience with these, but I stayed in one recently and it was nice, had a mini fridge, and the breakfast was good with lots of protein options. Obviously I skipped the warm chocolate chip cookie, as tempting as it was.

Not my favorites, but good secondary options

Courtyard by Marriott: They have a “set” breakfast menu you can order from as part of special room packages. However, it’s limited to about 3 or 4 options and only one, at last count, fit my diet. And they are calorie-dense (700-800 calorie breakfast sandwiches).

Fairfield Inn or Hampton Inn: The breakfast at these still has decent protein options, but you’ll notice that the food here isn’t nearly the high quality level as, say a Hyatt Place. And, they always use paper plates/napkins, which, again, kills me as someone who cares about our environment.

What if no hotel in the area offers free breakfast?

Then I look for a hotel with a chain nearby that offers breakfast options. And no, I’m not talking a Waffle House.

Starbucks: Make sure it’s one that offers breakfast sandwiches (some don’t). I opt for the whole wheat turkey bacon and egg white sandwich , a piece of fruit, and a small nonfat latte.

Tim Horton’s: As a Michigan native, I consider myself partially Canadian, which means I love Tim Horton’s (even if they are owned by Burger King now). I opt for the egg white and cheese sandwich.

Chick-fil-a: Remember, they aren’t open on Sundays, so make sure you’re travel doesn’t include a Sunday if this is going to be your breakfast solution. I opt for the Grilled Market Salad and/or a yogurt parfait (usually not a healthy option, but decent there) and coffee.  They do have the Egg White Grill sandwich too, but it’s not my favorite because I’ve had a few that weren’t that great, but an option nonetheless.

And remember, the point is to eat healthy, so think carefully about what you pull from the buffet breakfasts!

Happy travels!

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1 large pancake, about 6 inches diameter, along with all of the ingredients used to make it: Justin's Peanut Butter, Kodiak Power Cakes pancake mix, organic cinnamon, Mariani sliced almonds, Cary's sugar-free syrup

Pancake batter: 1/2 cup Kodiak Power Cakes, 1/2 cup water, 1 Tbsp almonds, dash of cinnamon. On top: 1 tsp peanut butter, 1/4 cup sugar free syrup

I have a weakness for anything breakfast, and especially anything in the french toast or doughy pancake realm. So I was intrigued to find Kodiak Power Cakes Protein Packed Flapjack & Waffle Mix at Costco and decided to give it a try.

I’ve tried other protein pancake mixes, such as MET-Rx High Protein Pancake Mix and haven’t been impressed. But I lived in hope.

And thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. These pancakes are great!

And while they don’t keep me as full as my usual breakfast of fruit, oatmeal, and almonds, they are a great not-so-unhealthy “treat” once in a while for breakfast.

Hints:

  • I like really doughy pancakes, so I use a small omelet pan and make one big pancake (see photo) vs. small ones. I also found just using water vs. the other suggestions of eggs or milk makes the pancake center more like dough.
  • Adding cinnamon to the mix gives a great flavor punch without adding calories or carbohydrates.

Pancake batter

1/2 cup Kodiak Power Cakes

1/2 cup water

1 Tbsp almonds

dash of cinnamon

On top

1 tsp peanut butter

1/4 cup sugar free syrup

 

 

Enjoy!

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Water bottle, purse, towel, cooler filled with a turkey wrap and apple

I decided to try a new exercise class today (note to self: in the future when it’s 94 degrees out, make sure the gym has air conditioning). The class went from 11 am – 12 pm and then I knew it would take me a while to get home.

This could have been hypoglycemic disaster or a convenient excuse to eat crap, but nope, I was good and packed my lunch, a turkey wrap (flaxseed wrap, hummus, 1 slice cheese, 3 slices deli turkey) and an apple.

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A beer, a large pretzel, two white sausages, and sweet mustard on a picnic table

“Weisswurst lunch at Viktualienmarkt” by Thomas Kriese, via Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Last year, my now-fiance and I took a vacation touring various parts of Germany.  The entire trip, I showed little restraint on food, as I absolutely LOVE German food. So, I happily ate sausages, pretzels and beer.

And to my shock, I not only didn’t have any issues with my blood sugar and hypoglycemia, but I also lost weight!

Ever since then, I’ve been curious as to why that is, and during a recent call with my dietitian, I asked. Here was the highlights of her response:

  • While I wasn’t working out like I usually do, and the walking all day probably didn’t burn extra calories, walking all day is a slow carb burn vs. a big, fast carb burn with an intense workout. She advises her clients, if they do gorge on carbohydrates, to go for a 10-15 minute walk after to start the burn process. So, while I was walking, I was slowly burning the carbs off vs. the high/low calorie/carb burn of my usual day.
  • The fat and protein in the sausages probably kept me full, allowing me to eat less often and eat less calories.
  • There’s a difference between American and European wheat, which could impact how it impacts my hypoglycemia. I’ve actually noticed this myself, when I drink American beer, I end up feeling ridiculously hungry and not well. If I drink German beer, however, I don’t feel this way. I think it has a lot to do with the additives and such we put in our beer.
  • Portion sizes are smaller over there.  Maybe so, maybe not, I’ve eaten some pretty giant pretzels and drank some giant beers, but overall, probably so.

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I’m a heavy magazine reader (mostly nerdy stuff). This week, I polished-off a Women’s Health and a National Geographic:

  • The Women’s Health* May issue (page 112) has an article titled “Can you build a better sugar?” which basically concludes that sugar substitutes have their issues (they may actually cause blood sugar spikes) and that it might be best to just stick to the more natural sugar.
  • National Geographic included an excerpt of the book, Pandora’s Lab: Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong and highlighted how margarine and Crisco basically introduced trans fats to the American diet and cause up to 250,000 deaths per year in the U.S. We’d be better off sticking with the more natural butter.

So, both concluded that we’d be better off sticking to a food closer to it’s original form than one created through a highly lab-intensive process. SHOCKED, shocked I tell you! (sarcasm)

I’m definitely guilty of some processed foods, but whenever possible, we should try to avoid them, especially as hypoglycemics, as there can be serious blood sugar consequences.

Am I saying go to town and eat as much sugar and butter as you want? Nope. Moderation is the key, a combination of portion control and cutting-back on how much sugar, butter, salt, etc. we add to things. For example, our sweets in the U.S. are ridiculously sweet compared to sweets in other countries and they are HUGE. We could easily fix both.

 

 

*I’m in no way advocating that Women’s Health is a good source of actual health advice. Some of their articles are great and well-researched, but many are not, and contradict each other. Read with caution.

 

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Wedding cake

As a bride-to-be, I’m in the process of cake shopping for our wedding. Those of you who know me can imagine that this is particularly entertaining for me, as I’m a marketer by trade, and used to help my grandmother make wedding cakes.

So I was a little taken back when one bakery refused to make me a sugar free cake, saying “We only make ORIGINAL recipes here.”

I mean, I get it, no one wants to walk into their store, expecting one thing and getting another. At the same time, we’ve learned a few things since 1965 (when this particular bakery originated), like that margarine is worse than butter, that high amounts of sugar and fat can harm you, that certain color dyes can cause harm or death.  And, of course, we know people various diseases and disorders, like hypoglycemia and diabetes, shouldn’t eat certain things.

And I’m also sure that ORIGINAL recipe went through many renditions, somewhere along the line, prior to becoming the recipe it is today. So, it’s not the original recipe; at some point, you all just decided it was great and quit innovating.

The reality is, there is a place for novelty and nostalgia, but to refuse to change is to refuse progress and discount all of the things we’ve learned. We have to be open to changing our food and recipes, as hypoglycemics or just regular people, as we learn more about the impact of those foods on our bodies.

As one of my favorite teachers once said, “The only way to coast is downhill.”

 

 

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