Hypothyroidism and Blood Sugar Imbalances

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Before I read about the importance of balancing my blood sugar levels in James Wilson’s book, I used to eat so much sugar and carbs, basing all my meals around carbs and needing sugar a few times a day, as if I was addicted. In fact, sugar has been proven to be addictive.

Hangry

I would get ‘hangry’ (hungry and angry) when I needed another fix, as my blood sugar would drop after a big spike from the sugar and carbs I was eating a lot of.

Signs of Low Blood Sugar

Other symptoms include headaches, feeling faint and dizzy, feeling hungry again quickly after eating, feeling tired, grouchy and irritable.  Until recently, I wasn’t aware that these low blood sugar moments were putting a lot of stress on my adrenals (not helping my adrenal fatigue!) and also likely contributing to my thyroid antibodies.

Since realising that I needed to adjust my diet to allow more protein and less sugar and carbs, my low blood sugar bouts, irritable moods, groggy feeling and slumps are gone. – Except when I have a bad food day and eat lots of sugar.. then it returns and I remember how bad it is! I feel sick, irritable, get a headache and generally just urgh.

Our Increased Risk of Blood Sugar Imbalances

Research has shown that having Hashimoto’s puts us at an increased risk of blood sugar imbalances or glycemic impairments and this places extra stress on our adrenals, which as we know, isn’t good!

Many of us as hypothyroid patients have adrenal fatigue (most without even knowing it), and stressors like this contribute to this condition. When your blood sugar levels drop below normal, your adrenal glands respond by secreting cortisol. This cortisol then tells the liver to produce more glucose, which brings blood sugar levels back to normal. Doing this repeatedly can cause abnormal cortisol output and can suppress pituitary function.

Understanding The Glycemic Index

The glycemic index is a measurement of how quickly we burn food, and simple carbohydrates such as: refined white sugar, refined flour, white rice, white bread, semolina, potatoes and carrots all have a very quick burn rate. Because of this, when eaten, they can cause a spike in our blood sugar, followed by a crash soon after.

Despite there being it commonly believed that carbohydrates keep us fuller for longer, after eating them, we actually often tend to become hungry again in less than an hour! I was always confused about why I could be starving within an hour after eating a whole bowl of pasta or a jacket potato. It makes sense now.

Dr Kharrazian explains that if you feel sleepy or want sugar or sweets after a meal, it’s a sign you’ve ate too much carbs and a sign of low blood sugar or insulin resistance – blood sugar imbalances.

What Should We Eat Instead?

This is where more protein-rich diets can be better for us.

Fat and protein have a slower burn rate. They are absorbed more slowly and gradually and so don’t raise blood sugar levels as quickly as carbs do. They also keep us fuller for longer. Assuming enough calories are eaten to feel full, a person will be hungry again around two to three hours after eating protein, and about four hours after eating fat.

This is why I have protein in my breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch and dinner, as my functional medicine practitioner has me focus on protein to balance my blood sugar and promote ongoing, stable energy levels. If I want a mid-afternoon snack then I also eat protein, in the form of cheese, nuts or meat.

You should also try to eat every two to three hours to keep your blood sugar balanced and adrenals in check. Going long times without food, such as fasting, places stress on your adrenals. Don’t miss breakfast either!

My moods definitely improved, and my hangry headaches have stopped. Making these small changes, such as having chicken in place of a sugar-filled cereal bar at 11am has really made a lot of difference. I feel more full and fuller for longer, I’m not irritable, I can concentrate at work better and I’m not having low blood sugar moments later on.

You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given, but more reading and references can also be found at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3968713/

This post may contain affiliate links, to find out more information, please read my disclosure statement.
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Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism

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Rachel Hill is a highly ranked and award-winning Thyroid Patient Advocate, blogger and author. She has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Yahoo, MSN, Dr. HedbergThyroid Refresh and ThyroidChange, to name just a few. She is well-recognised as a useful contributor to the thyroid community and also contributed the foreword to Emily Kyle’s The 30-Minute Thyroid Cookbook. She received Six 2018 WEGO Health Award Nominations.

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