Every three to four hours — if I don’t eat a meal or snack — my vision blurs, I begin to stumble and sweat beads up on my face. I’m hypoglycemic. This means my blood sugars tend to stay low, too low, according to the Mayo Clinic. My condition is likely related to malabsorption issues due to having Celiac Disease.
The Connection Between Blood Sugar Issues and Celiac Disease
Registered Nurse Nicole Justus explains on The Diabetes Council‘s website that when you have one autoimmune disease, you likely get others. Hypoglycemia is one of the side effects of unmanaged blood glucose levels associated with Type 1 Diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease, just like Celiac disease.
For people who have both Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease, blood sugar levels are hard to control.
“When someone with Type 1 Diabetes eats food and injects insulin, the sugar in the food pairs with the insulin for the body to use as fuel,” Justus explains. “With celiac disease, the small intestines do not allow for the food to be digested and the sugar molecules to be present. For those with both diabetes and celiac, the insulin doesn’t have anything to pair with and the blood sugar level drops.”
She goes on to say that gluten-free versions of our favorite foods may be higher in carbohydrates and sugar than their gluten-containing equivalents. The takeaway? Read package labels so you understand what you’re eating and how it might affect your blood sugar levels.
7 Snacks I Keep on Hand to Increase My Blood Sugar
To get ahead of my blood sugar dips, I keep food with me at all times. It’s in my purse, my travel bag and a mini cooler in my car. We also have a small refrigerator in our upstairs bedroom. I don’t want to wake up dizzy and attempt to navigate a winding staircase to get to the kitchen. It’s just not safe.
When you feel a low blood sugar moment coming on, the Mayo Clinic suggests consuming 15 to 20 grams of a fast-acting carbohydrate that quickly converts to sugar, waiting 15 minutes, then checking your blood sugar. If your reading is under 70 md/dL, have another sweet snack, then re-test in 15 minutes.
Once your blood sugar level increases to 70 mg/dL, it’s a good idea to have a well-balanced meal containing protein, fat and complex carbohydrates to help reset your body.
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Here are the fast-acting snacks I keep on hand to boost my sugars quickly.
- Hard candy: I enjoy vegan YumEarth Organic Lollipops made with cane sugar. They don’t contain any artificial coloring, flavors or animal products, like gelatin.
- Graham crackers: I stock up on Schar Honeygrams at my local grocery store. They also work well for pie crusts and s’mores.
- Freeze-dried fruits: I discovered Crispy Green apples, pears and tangerines a few years ago and love the portability of these fruit snacks.
- Dried fruits: Chewy fruit leather from Stretch Island reminds me of the fruit snacks I enjoyed as a kid. They come in tasty flavors like ripened raspberry and harvest grape.
- Fruit and vegetable-based smoothies: My go-to is Naked Smoothie bottled drinks. Many of the flavors are gluten-free.
- Granola bars: I like the KIND Bars brand and opt for the gluten-free Blueberry Pecan Bars or Maple Pumpkin Seed.
- Fruit juice: Sometimes a small glass of 100 percent juice is all it takes to elevate your blood sugars and feel better again. I like Apple & Eve juice boxes because they’re easy to take on the go.
If you’re not sure how to best manage your blood sugar levels, please call your healthcare provider and ask questions. A phone nurse can give you ideas or share helpful resources to get you moving in the right direction.
Do you have a medical concern you manage day-to-day?
Could you be more proactive about working with the symptoms?
If you made changes, would it improve your health and happiness?
Until next time,
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Note: This blog post was last updated on January 2, 2023.