My doctor diagnosed me with hypoglycemia and handed me a diabetic diet.

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My doctor diagnosed me recently as having hypoglycemia. He handed me a diabetic diet to follow. Am I a diabetic? I don’t have to take any shots like a diabetic. So why do I have to follow a diabetic diet?

If your doctor diagnosed you as having hypoglycemia, you probably took a three-hour glucose tolerance test or at least a blood glucose test two hours after a meal. People with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) produce too much insulin and their blood sugar drops rapidly after eating. A sharp drop in blood sugar can produce a faint feeling or weakness. This is especially evident when the blood sugar drops below a person’s fasting level of 70 to 90 milligrams percent. If the blood sugar drops to 40 or 60, generally, a person will lose consciousness. The body uses its blood sugar as fuel for the body to function. The brain uses more blood sugar than any other organ. The faint feeling is the result of a low blood sugar and not enough fuel for your brain.

Yes, you do have to follow a diabetic diet, but no, you are not a diabetic. The diet that seems to work best for people with hypoglycemia is six small meals with 50% of your calories from carbohydrates. It is an excess of sugars in your diet that triggers the excessive production of insulin.

Until your symptoms are under control, you should not make any changes in the diet your doctor gave you. You must eliminate all simple sugars (cakes, pies, cookies, candy, ice cream and regular carbonated beverages). A diet fairly high in protein (20% of your calories from protein) also seems to benefit people with hypoglycemia. Until you are in better control, no alcohol either.

I would suggest you call your doctor and tell him/her that you don’t understand the diet and you need nutritional counseling. In the meantime, if you feel faint, eat a slice or two of cheese, lunchmeat or a hot dog without the bun. Contrary to the diabetic who needs sugar when his blood sugar is low, a hypoglycemic needs protein. If you ate something sweet, your blood sugar would go up but would drop sharply again within two hours because you produce too much insulin.