Aaaaah blood sugar. One of those things you never think about unless there’s a problem with it. And when there’s a problem, by golly there’s no ignoring it! At least there isn’t for me! Remember that scene in Steel Magnolias where they are all in the salon getting their hair done and Julia Roberts has an ‘episode?’ She starts shaking and yelling at her mom and being really aggressive. She completely forgets that she’s getting her hair done and messes it all up. Her mom has to grab her by the face and tell her what is obviously true, but she doesn’t believe that her mom is on her side until they give her the sip of juice and she calms down? That is obviously the extreme of blood sugar crashes, but for the first time in my life, I can really really identify with that scene.
Perhaps you are like me and have never experienced blood sugar issues before. Then all of a sudden you find yourself with adrenal fatigue and now you turn into Cruella de Ville when you haven’t had a snack every hour and a half. Never before had I dealt with blood sugar issues. Sure, before I started caring about what I put in my body I’d have that afternoon slump while I was sitting at my desk at work. But I never could understand when people would talk about having hypoglycemia and that if they didn’t get something to eat they’d become moody and irritable. If I became moody and irritable when I was hungry it was because I live in a first world country where my needs and wants never go unmet for very long and therefore I’m spoiled. However it had nothing to do with actual physical reactions in my body. But Lord have mercy, the words ‘moody’ and ‘irritable’ are way too kind to describe my behavior in relation to a Beth Dreyer blood sugar crash in recent history.
Again, just as in my initial post about adrenal fatigue, I’m not going to get into the science of why adrenal fatigue affects your blood sugar and your hormones. If you want to know, pick up one of the books I recommended at the end of that post or do a Google search. Tired of Being Tired has an entire chapter about sugar that is fantastic at explaining why you need to cut it out of your diet. Suffice it to say, depleted adrenal glands dramatically affect your body’s ability to maintain stable blood sugar and also cortisol levels. Those problems also further deplete your adrenals so it becomes a vicious cycle. When this started happening to me I wasn’t sure what was going on exactly, and chalked it up to ‘that time of the month’ combined with stress. But eventually I realized that it was my blood sugar AND my hormones and that I needed to figure out how to keep myself stable. If I could keep my blood sugar stable, I had a better chance of staying on top of my hormones as well. Once I had that realization, I was able to start watching for the warning signs to help prevent the deep dark ugly crashes. My husband was grateful.
So here are some suggestions for maintaining stable blood sugar.
- Understand that sugar is the enemy. The en-e-meeeee. Get rid of your processed foods that have high-fructose corn syrup, toss out your secret candy stash, do not head to the Coke machine at 3:00, and say no to that muffin and orange juice you wanted to have for breakfast tomorrow morning. Feeding a sugar crash (or just a human body for that matter) with sugar is not the answer. It only does more damage to your body. It’s time to get off of sugar.
- Eat regularly. Have a meal, have a snack. Rinse and repeat until bedtime. In fact, you may even want to have a handful of nuts or seeds before you even get out of bed if you’re not going straight to the kitchen after you wake up.
- Make sure that your regular eating consists of protein, protein, protein and fat, fat, fat. Protein and fat will help stabilize. Some ideas for snacks would be beef jerky, cashews, almonds, pepitas, grass-fed cheese, hard boiled eggs, summer sausage, eggnog, and homemade ice cream with grass-fed (preferably raw milk) and pastured egg yolks.
- If you must eat some carbs and/or sugar make SURE that you are only eating them at meal times in combination with proteins and fats so that your body doesn’t get knocked out of balance. And when I say carbs, I’m including high-glycemic fruits and vegetables too. Apples? Might not be a good snack for you. As a dessert with some peanut butter slapped on it – absolutely. But probably not on an empty stomach. This takes some trial and error, see how you feel with different snacks. Just be advised that fruits are full of fructose which affects your blood sugar.
- Broth. Broth is always going to be your friend, it’s good for practically everything. But I found that a mug of homemade broth with meals or in between meals is a fantastic blood sugar stabilizer. It might be hard to trick yourself into feeling like you’ve had a snack when you’ve just drunk some liquid, but believe me you have!
- Watch out for protein bars because often times they are full of sugar and processed ingredients.
- Once you have figured out what kinds of snacks are good for you, build up a stock pile and distribute them throughout your life. In your pantry, by your bed, in your purse, in your car, at the office.
- Do not drink any alcohol. Alcohol converts into sugar in your belly and just makes things worse. You may feel better immediately after a glass of wine, because it shoots your blood sugar way back up, but high blood sugar isn’t good either! All in all it is actually doing more damage and not helping you get out of the cycle you’re in. Consider taking a break from alcohol until your body is healed.
Ok so there are some ideas to help you maintain, but what if your day didn’t go as you planned, you didn’t have a snack in your purse like you thought, you lost track of time and started crashing before you could get to some good snacks, or you gave in and got a Coke from the machine at work. All of a sudden you are shaking, starving, angry, overwhelmed, and hostile to those around you. Your head is aching and you feel like everything is going wrong, everything’s a mess and there’s no hope for any of it to get better. It happens. We all have our Steel Magnolias moments, so what to do when it’s too late? I believe that we as human beings are made up of spirit, soul, and body and that those three are all connected and affected by each other. I don’t know about you, but when my body is crashing, it affects my spirit and soul and I have to address them all to pull myself back together.
Here are my top six suggestions for pulling yourself out of the tailspin that a blood sugar crash can cause.
- Go get something substantial to eat right now. Preferably something high in protein and high in fat. Like a couple of pieces of summer sausage and some cheese AND a mug of broth. Do NOT reach for something sugary or for an alcoholic beverage.
- This one takes advance preparation. Make some 3×5 cards with your favorite Bible verses with promises that apply to this season in your life. Keep them in your purse or by your bed, or in your desk drawer (or all three!) that you can pull out at a moment’s notice when you start to feel like everything in your life is a mess and nothing will ever be ok again. Sometimes you have to be the person that holds you by your face and speaks the truth even when you don’t believe it. Read those verses to yourself out loud.
- Breathe deeply and meditate for 15 minutes. Deep breathing calms and changes the chemistry in your body. It will help your hormones to settle down while you are waiting for that snack you just ate to take effect. I really love this meditation video on YouTube from Ekhart Yoga. Trust me, if you can do this once a day it will change your life. She has other meditation videos on that channel as well, most of them around 10 minutes long. They are great!
- When you meditate, consider laying down on your back with your feet up the wall or leaning on your bed or a chair. I do this instead of sitting cross-legged and I feel much more relaxed and rejuvenated afterwards. I read somewhere once that staying in ‘legs up the wall’ pose for 10 minutes while breathing deeply is like taking a 30 minute nap! Once you understand the basic order of how those meditation videos go, make your own! Record yourself on your phone walking yourself through the centering and relaxation steps and then record yourself reading your verses from step 2 out loud. That way you can get yourself relaxed and then wash yourself with the Word. It’s a win-win.
- Watch a funny video on YouTube, or better yet a funny movie if you have time. Laughter also really changes your body chemistry! There’s a reason they say that laughter is the best medicine!
- If you’re too far gone and none of these things are helping or you are not in any mood to allow yourself to be helped, lock yourself in your room for a while so that you don’t behave badly to the people you love on the other side. I had to do this just the other day. Eventually you will calm down.
Ok now I know at this point you must be thinking, “Beth! Seriously you can’t be telling me to eat all day every day, aren’t I going to gain weight?” My answer to that question is does it really matter? Don’t you want to get better? Don’t you want off of the blood sugar roller coaster? I have gained some weight in the last six months which is just now starting to come off, and I’ve HATED it. It’s not fun to only have one or two pairs of pants you can fit into, or having to spend extra time figuring out what to wear because you have a tummy that makes you look pregnant when you’re not. In addition to eating all the time for months and months, my body was too depleted to handle any real exercise. But as I said to Ashley recently, “For every pound I gained, someone in my family did not get their head bitten off.” Also, if you are dealing with adrenal fatigue, chances are your cortisol levels are way out of balance which is going to cause you to put on a few pounds no matter what you do. And the more you allow yourself to be out of balance with your blood sugar, the longer it’s going to take to get the hormones like cortisol under control. So go forth and gain a few pounds and work on letting your body heal! As long as you are eating really good food, making good choices, and exercising again when your body is ready, those pounds will come back off. All the time I was gaining weight, and into the present, I have been eating nutrient-dense real foods and have been really strict about what went into my body. I can’t feel bad about weight gained when I know I was putting good things in my mouth. Even though I whine and complain to Ashley and Jake about the pants that I can’t wear, I had to embrace the fact that this was part of the process and that those pounds will come back off.
I hope this helps someone! I am not a doctor, and this is not medical advice. This article is written based on research that I’ve done, my own trial and error, and the help I have received from my doctor. In addition to doing these things, I have also been taking all kinds of supplements under the direction of my doctor to aid my body in its healing process. If you think you have adrenal fatigue, you should go see a natural doctor like a chiropractor or a naturopath.
Stay tuned for more Healing From Adrenal Fatigue posts!