Hypoglycemia tips for low-energy, low-appetite vegetarian
March 29, 2019 4:46 PM   Subscribe

A recent blood test showed my blood glucose seriously low, so I am trying to change my diet (which currently contains a lot of coffee, sweets, and meal skipping). Unfortunately I am not very well and not very hungry, which makes preparing and eating food unappealing. What are some hacks to deal with this? Good recipe books? Hypoglycemia podcasts? Low-glycemic snacks or mini meals that can be batch cooked so they are grab and go? I am able to spend some money on this and any advice is appreciated.
posted by sockkitude to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Oh another thing, is there a way to stimulate appetite? Because having more interest in food would probably help a lot.
posted by sockkitude at 4:48 PM on March 29, 2019

Frozen vegetable mixes are healthy and can be heated in a few minutes in a microwave oven or on the stove top - just heat and dress with (any combination of salt/pepper/herbs/vinegar/olive oil/etc. that takes your fancy). One bag is usually good for 2-3 meals. You can even mix-and-match multiple bags to make a big batch, and refrigerate in meal-size portions so it only takes a minute or two to warm up each one.

Unfortunately I don't have any advice for stimulating one's appetite.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:03 PM on March 29, 2019

I feel like cannabis is a stock solution to stimulating appetite. Is this viable where you are?
posted by batter_my_heart at 5:15 PM on March 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds, steeped like tea (like a quarter teaspoon each), and some ginger, will stimulate appetite taken on an empty and can also help to counteract sugar cravings. I sip it before and after lunch (improves digestions in general).

I find if I add sriracha sauce to foods/eat spicier foods that stimulates my appetite (I put some hot sauce on an egg for breakfast and it helps), and in general when I want sugary foods I go for savory and it helps, things like cheese, spicy dried wasabi peas, dried seaweed with wasabi.

Snack ideas: nuts, egg bites, any raw veggies you like (carrots, cucumber, peppers etc. will all keep well) with hummus or baba ghanoush, babybel cheese, salads (with nuts, good dressing, feta cheese), apple with nut butter, if you can stomach vegan protein powders (or use a whey-based powder), you can take the powder on the go and make an "airport shake".
posted by lafemma at 5:36 PM on March 29, 2019 [5 favorites]

Apples are low on the glycemic index and cheese is 0; apples and cheese is the snack I make when I am too exhausted to face food prep. Hummus is very low, and can go on apples or celery.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:05 PM on March 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

If preparing food is unappealing, why not not try frozen meals, like Amy's? They are all vegetarian.
posted by Shadow Boxer at 6:07 PM on March 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you’re able to spend money, maybe order frozen meals from Veestro. I got my daughter a gift certificate from them, and she loved it.

(Also, please assure us that you are getting a thorough medical workup for this. My anemia was completely unrelated to diet. I know you don’t have anemia, but hypoglycemia has lots of causes and you also don’t feel well and have a loss of appetite. Apologies if you’re already on it.)
posted by FencingGal at 6:30 PM on March 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Do you eat dairy? If so, you could make a smoothie with yogurt, blueberries (berries are low-glycemic), 1 small or 1/2 a banana, and a dollop of peanut butter. The banana adds sweetness, and if you use frozen blueberries, it comes out like a shake. If no dairy, you can use a dairy-free yogurt, there are plenty of them out there.

I also do fruit and cheese as a snack. Lately, I like Red Bartlett pears, as they soften relatively quickly in a basket (if they are slightly hard at the store). I find them easier to eat than their yellow counterparts. Pears have lots of fiber. If you don't want cheese, add a few nuts to your snack, almonds or cashews. It doesn't have to be a lot, the main goal of small meals is to keep your blood sugar on an even keel throughout the day.

Assuming you've had a medical workup, been tested for low Vitamin D, thyroid issues, etc., you should ask for a referral to a dietician. Most medical practices will do this, has yours talked to you about it?

If you are eating things with sugar, it causes your blood sugar to spike, then, as pure sugar is digested quickly, your blood glucose drops, leaving you shaky. 1 teaspoon of sugar has 5 grams of carbs. Most diets for blood sugar issues consist of counting carbs, so as to limit them per meal and snack, always combining the carbs with a protein. So even something like a Lunchable would be preferable to plain crackers by themselves. There are lots of recipes for vegan and vegetarian lunchables, maybe grab some Bento style boxes or divided containers, prep those for a week?

Was your blood sugar taken with a glucose meter? Or was it an A1C test (which measure your average blood sugar over the last 3 months). If with a glucose meter, it could have been low if you'd been eating sweets or drinking sugary drinks a little while before, which causes a spike and then a drop after the sugar has been converted to energy.

You could make a big batch of brown rice in a rice cooker, and keep that in a covered bowl in your fridge all week. If you like Indian food, they sell things like saag paneer in pouches in the international sections at (US) grocery stores, just dump and heat for 90 seconds, on top of a scoop of brown rice. It's warm and comforting, and easy to make.

Here is an article about stabilizing blood sugar and why you might not feel hungry in the morning. As someone with Type 2 diabetes, this is something I struggle with - I want my coffee and sugar in the morning, but it just sets me up for a bad cascade the rest of the day, so the hardest thing is to limit to one cup of coffee, and force myself to eat something like yogurt, blueberries, and crushed walnuts (2 TBS). Or some oatmeal, with some sort of protein like peanut butter (if you eat eggs, you can whip an egg into hot oatmeal, 1/2 cup of instant to 1 cup of water, microwave 2 minutes, crack an egg in and whip with a fork for 30 seconds, until combined and you can't see any liquid egg white; it cooks the egg and adds hidden protein without much flavor, then you can add peanut butter, or anything sweet or savory like fruit, or even nutritional yeast, for a cheesy flavor, if I go the savory route, I also add curry powder, maybe some dried cranberries).

Also be aware that exercise can cause low blood sugar, so if you are going for a walk, say, eat a snack beforehand and perhaps a small one afterward. Smoothie or oatmeal before, then say, a small handful of nuts afterward.

I find it easier if I stick with the same things for breakfast and lunch (savory oatmeal for breakfast, sandwich at lunch on whole wheat bread -- just the generic from the store, it is small slices, so not a huge sandwich), and I often make dinner so that we can have leftovers for 2-3 days, navy bean soup, vegetarian chili, 1 can of chickpeas, 2 cans of kidney beans, sautee and onion, 1-2 cloves of garlic, shred some ginger (or use powdered), dump in a can of diced tomatoes, some cumin to taste, and then the beans and a little water. Simmer for 20 minutes, mush some beans on the side of the pot to thicken, and you have a comforting vegetarian chili for several days for one person.

I had hypoglycemia in the 1990's, and the diet is similar to one for Type 2 diabetics, but you should really get in with a dietician referred by your doctor's office and have them help you with meal planning, and ways to stimulate your appetite, and make sure you've been tested for other things.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:25 AM on March 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Sugar-free cookies and anything else with lots of non-sugar carbohydrates are no good for me, but sugar-free candies where the nutritional label lists "sugar alcohol" as the source of carbs can be helpful in that they spread the blood sugar impact over a longer period of time. (Sugar alcohol has all the same calories, though, so not a diet food.)

Be careful eating too much, though, because you can cause a sort of artificial long-term blood sugar increase that screws up your understanding of how your blood sugar levels respond to other foods. Also there can be other terrible side effects from eating too much. I guess you might want to talk to your doctor or diabetes educator about eating sugar alcohol containing foods.

Fortunately there are also candies these days which have sugar substitutes like stevia, which I think will tend to have lower calorie and carb counts and not raise your blood sugar much at all.

Apparently different people can respond quite differently to different foods, though, so a good general measure, if you haven't done so already, would be to get yourself an inexpensive blood glucose meter. You should sort of consider your body a scientific instrument for experimentally determining what your diet should be like. It can actually be pretty rewarding to go through all your options and experiment with new foods, so don't be depressed!
posted by XMLicious at 3:48 AM on March 30, 2019

Bah, sorry, I meant to suggest talking to your doctor or dietitian as Marie Mon Dieu suggested. I did see that you're dealing with hypoglycemia rather than diabetes.
posted by XMLicious at 4:27 AM on March 30, 2019

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