Ask The Expert is a weekly column on Littlestomaks.com. The idea is to have a reader-submitted question answered by a nutrition expert or a pediatrician. Feel free to submit your question in the comments section below.
I did not know about reactive hypoglycemia until recently when a Mom asked me this question on our Facebook page. This week, Registered Dietitian Karman Meyer explains what it is and what you can do to manage the blood sugar levels to avoid potentially life threatening symptoms.
|Karman Meyer, RD LDN
Question: I have a profoundly gifted, almost 3 year old, son with reactive hypoglycemia. Would love to know more about keeping his blood sugar level.
Reactive hypoglycemia, also known as postprandial or alimentary hypoglycemia, is a rare condition that causes an individuals’ blood sugar, or blood glucose, to drop below 70 mg/dL typically within 4 hours after eating a meal. A significant drop in the blood sugar level after eating is caused by an excess production of insulin for digestion of carbohydrate-rich foods. Symptoms of reactive hypoglycemia are similar to diabetes-related hypoglycemia, which include light-headedness, sweating, confusing, hunger, and weakness. The cause of reactive hypoglycemia is still uncertain, but individuals who have had gastric surgery may develop this disorder.
Because a low blood sugar level can be potentially dangerous if not treated right away, it is best to prevent it from occurring. To help avoid hypoglycemia, individuals with reactive hypoglycemia should try the following:
- Eat small meals or snacks every 3 hours
- Make sure meals and snacks contain foods from a several food groups (protein, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and grains)
- Limit foods that are high in simple sugars (soda, candy, cakes, pastries), especially if eating on an empty stomach
- Choose foods high in soluble fiber (oatmeal, citrus fruits, carrots, and beans)
Be prepared and pack a carbohydrate-containing snack when the next meal is several hours away to prevent drops in blood sugar. If hypoglycemia does set in, be sure to take action and treat the low blood sugar immediately. Glucose tablets are effective for quickly raising blood sugar levels and should be carried at all times in case food is unavailable.
Living with reactive hypoglycemia can be very manageable. The most important point to remember is that people with reactive hypoglycemia need to eat a variety of foods at meals and snacks, and should eat at least every 3 hours. By planning balanced and appropriate meals and snacks ahead of time, low blood sugars can be prevented.
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