Reactive hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar following a meal, is best treated through a special diet. While there is some debate as to whether a high-carbohydrate or high-protein diet is best, the restriction of cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, starch, alcohol and caffeine are standard in a reactive hypoglycemia diet. This diet also relies on a slightly above average consumption of healthy fats, which helps to even out glucose levels.
The most common reactive hypoglycemia diet consists of limiting or entirely excluding simple carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta and cereal from the diet. Complex carbohydrates, mainly whole grains, are restricted to 130 grams to 200 grams per day, depending on the severity of the reactive hypoglycemia. In place of these carbohydrates, the rest of the caloric needs of the patient are derived from proteins and healthy fats such as those found in nuts, avocados, eggs and fish.
Conversely, a reactive hypoglycemia diet can also be based largely on consuming a higher than usual amount of complex carbohydrates. Proponents of this diet believe complex carbohydrates help to regulate the glucose system more effectively and an absence of these carbohydrates can actually make the body more susceptible to glucose. With this diet it is also import to eat a large amount of high-fiber foods such as peas, lentils, broccoli, artichokes and raspberries.
Whether a doctor prescribes a low- or high-carbohydrate diet, the consumption of large amounts of vegetables is one of the most important parts of an effective reactive hypoglycemia diet. It is also important to limit or avoid caffeine all together, because this substance has the same effect on blood sugar as reactive hypoglycemia does, doubling the instances of symptoms such as shaking, sweating, rapid heartbeat, anxiety and dizziness. Alcohol should also be avoided because of its high calorie count, because consuming these calories in place of healthy calories can increase the likelihood of attacks.
Perhaps the most important aspect of a reactive hypoglycemia diet is not the food itself but rather the amount and timing of meals. Most doctors recommend that meals should be small and frequent typically five or six times a day. Reactive hypoglycemia usually occurs from one to three hours after a meal, so doctors recommend that those suffering from this disorder eat every two to three hours to ward off attacks. While this diet can be strict, it is the most effective means of controlling low blood sugar.