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life in ruins

It turns out that I have reactive hypoglycemia. This is a not-wonderful condition in which, after I have a meal with lots of carbohydrates, my blood sugar spikes, my body freaks out and dumps a bunch of insulin in my bloodstream, and my blood sugar plummets. Milder crashes lead to headache, queasiness, irritability, general shakiness; worse ones lead to fainting, and without treatment to convulsions and potentially death. (I've only hit the almost-passed-out stage, although that was bad enough. According to my mom, "You know how in crime dramas, they show the dead girl on the slab right before the autopsy starts? That was what you looked like.") It's what happens to diabetics if they overdose on insulin.

I'm more relieved than anything--I've known for a while there was something wrong, but now I know what, and how to treat it. Unfortunately, the treatment is mostly a very controlled diet. No sugar, no caffeine, lots of fruits and veggies, lean meat, whole grains.

Those of you who know my eating habits, you're probably wondering if it's okay to laugh into your keyboard. It's okay. It's totally okay.

Those of you unfamiliar with said eating habits, I am infamous at several workplaces as "the girl who brings cans of chocolate frosting for lunch, and has Diet Dr. Pepper in her veins."

No sugar. No caffeine. I have become one of The Label People, those who stand in the grocery aisle poring over items' nutritional info and muttering things like, "But what about the carb-protein ratio?" I feel faintly ashamed and guilty whenever someone comes past, as if they'll mistake me for a voluntarily healthy eater. Oh, the shame of trail mix and leafy greens. The shame. I am even close to enjoying cottage cheese.

My diet will never, however, include hummus. I have to draw the line somewhere.


Reactive hypoglycemia is indeed not-wonderful, but yay, identifying the problem and being able to fix it! That is a good step (despite the shame of leafy greens. XD )
Dude, you do not know how close I was to getting you a gift card to Coldstone for your birthday. o.o (I was trying to plan ahead!)

But indeed, yay for knowing what the problem is and can manage it. (Also, YOU ARE EATING COTTAGE CHEESE?)
I had to clean out my purse of all the inappropriate gift cards. Coldstone...See's...Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory...oh, the mourning and lamentations.

Re cottage cheese: INORITE what is happening to meeeee?!

Although I think the times I tried it previously, it was non-fat cottage cheese. This is the normal kind and actually tastes like dairy was involved in its production. Maybe.
OH. Yes, if all you have had is the non-fat stuff, which is an ABOMINATION OF DAIRY, no wonder.

I will only eat 2% and up, everything else is FAKERY.
I adore cottage cheese, but the low fat stuff is one of the biggest abominations of "food" on the plan. It literally tastes like plastic. EWYUCKSTABHELLNO.

Full cream cottage cheese, OTOH, actually tastes comparatively like cheese.

I'm with you, Merc: low fat dairy IS NOT DAIRY. NEVER.

It's nice not to dread 11 am anymore! (I used to have a crash at that time every day--two hours past breakfast.) I have eaten so many veggies the laast couple days...so many...
Intriguing. I have actually been wondering just this week if I have this too, prior to reading your post!! The crashes, the epic fatigue... oh the fatigue, insert epic snarley faces here.

How did you get diagnosed, if you don't mind sharing? I'm pretty sure that all my woes are food related, but I just don't even know where to start :\

But anyway, I am sorry that it turned out to be this, although yay for a diagnosis. *hugs*. I can't eat refined sugar more than once a week without ending up crashy, and once a week is not possible, because I am either eating All The Sugarz, or I am being good and not having any - so I totally feel your pain. And I love baking so much!!! Stupid bodies. I vote we sack them and get new ones. *glare*.

...Sorry. This has turned out more self-centred than I planned :P But I /am/ sorry you have to give up tasty things. And I am also glad that you have a Plan, and that it involves Not Feeling Like A Human Zombie for the rest of your life. This, unlike my abject abuse of capitals, is a Very Good Thing. /nod.
No worries! Re diagnosis--I'd been feeling crummy for a while (several months, on and off) but I'd always put it down to allergies or hormones. The Big Dramatic Moment of realizing 'there is something else going on' was when I walked out of the gym one morning, stood for five minutes waiting for my mom (she'd borrowed my car), and collapsed.

We had experience with blood sugar crash/collapses due to Major Tom the diabetic Stray Cat. When he began remission, he got overdosed a couple times since we didn't realize his body had started to produce insulin again. We got first-row seats to the range of symptoms--from shakiness and mood swings to muscle weakness, vision loss, and finally fainting and seizure.

That all happened to me that day, up to almost-unconsciousness. Fortunately mom had marshmallows (she'd just run to the grocery store) and I ate one fast to get my blood sugar up. Otherwise, I'm pretty sure I'd have ended up seizing.

The marshmallow fixed me after ten minutes, and I had another snack when we got home, and everything was fine. Except that there was clearly something MAJORLY wrong with my blood sugar regulation. Normal 25-year-olds do not eat breakfast at 9 am, work out for an hour, and then collapse like insulin-overdosed diabetics.

We researched what could fit my symptoms. I didn't show any signs of diabetes--no excessive thirst or urination, nothing that'd indicate periods of prolonged high blood sugar. I felt decent after eating, and then between half an hour and two hours after eating, I'd be back to feeling tired and shaky and queasy.

The length of time, we realized, depended on the food I'd eaten. When I had cereal and a protein shake, I'd be good for about two hours. If I had pizza for breakfast, I made it barely twenty minutes before I felt terrible. Exercise exacerbated the problem since it makes blood sugar drop--the muscles use it for fuel.

So: we settled on reactive hypoglycemia as our hypothesis. We got out the home blood-sugar testing kit we used on Major Tom, and started checking my blood sugar every hour. We also did my mom's levels for comparison. My results were dramatically different than hers--her blood sugar levels rose until they were highest about two hours after eating, and then slowly descended. That's normal. Mine went up directly after eating, then directly back down, and were in the 80 mg/dL range at two hours (a good normal is 90-120 mg/dL; 'you are feeling cranky and lightheaded, eat something now' is the 70s; lower than 70 is 'eat something NOW').

So that matched what you'd expect from a reactive hypoglyemic--fast rise in blood sugar, fast drop, and needs to eat again two hours later. I didn't bother going to my doctor and having a full glucose curve done in the lab, because really, there was nothing my doctor could do beyond say "You have reactive hypoglycemia, follow this diet you already know about."

So I started an RH diet the next day. The basics are: every meal, try to have a 1:1 carb: protein ratio. (Sometime you can do protein + fat together matching the amount of carbs--it depends on the person. It sort of works for me, but not as well as matching protein alone to the carbs.) Also, it's not just sugar you cut out--it's as many simple carbs as possible. So no white bread, regular pasta, be very very careful with potatoes. Whole grains for everything you can, high fiber, as many complex carbs as possible. Some RHers are fine with corn--I seem to be one. Some are not. RH varies a lot between individuals (one reason lab results are sometimes unreliable).

The biggest point, though--you eat every 2 to 2.5 hrs. Carry a snack EVERYwhere. Apples and peanut butter, cottage cheese, mozzarella sticks, trail mix. I feel like a weird healthful hobbit. ("Time for Second Breakfast!") You're not eating any MORE calories than you normally would, you're just splitting them up through the day.

That's the clearest confirmation of the diagnosis--if you start an RH diet, and all your symptoms go away. One week in, I can definitely say that's me. I'm even PMSing and have not had a single mood swing! It's almost ridiculous.

...also this comment got ridiculously long, wow. Hopefully it was helpful!
You are awesome and thoroughly helpful. I shall bug you further B-)