Hypoglycemia Treatment – What To Eat To Correct A Hypo

Getting a hypo is one of the scariest parts of being diabetic, it can also be a bit of a minefield when it comes to over correction. This page discusses my approach to correcting hypoglycemia and has some tips and tricks for you too.

So, you’re sweating but you’re cold, you feel sick but you’re hungry, you’re lightheaded, your vision is blurry, you have a headache, and you feel like at any moment you might collapse. This is a hypo for sure. 

At this point you may be scrambling around the kitchen trying to decide what to eat. If like me, you used to have a real sweet tooth, you may be viewing this as an opportunity to eat some of your favourite old snacks. However, that’s not necessarily the best idea. 

There are actually all sorts of things you can eat hypoglycemia treatment. What I want to explore is some of these different food types, recommended amounts, and pitfalls you need to avoid when correcting a hypo. 

My Best Hypoglycemia Treatment Foods

For me, there are a few classic fallbacks that I will turn to when my blood sugar is plummeting like a lead balloon. These include jelly babies, fruit pastels, chewits, and these really nice jelly Polish sweets that my partners parents send to us. 

As far as I’m concerned, the best things about these foods is the high sugar content and the bloody delicious taste. You only need to eat a few of any of these types of foods to start to feel an improvement in your blood glucose level and the effect that has on your well-being. 

Of course, it may not always be practical for you to carry around a whole bag of jelly babies. So when I’m out and about I have a weapon of choice which never fails to help me out, glucose tablets. 

Personally, I don’t think glucose tablets taste that great. That’s why, if I have the opportunity, I will eat something far more delicious. With that being said, you can keep a tube or packet of glucose tablets easily in your pocket and they will help you out in a pinch. My favourite flavour are either tropical dextrose tablets or the Raspberry dextrose tabs you can buy. 

Whether you’re eating jelly babies or glucose tablets it’s always a good idea to support them with some slow release carbs when pulling yourself out of a hypo. This is because eating just the sweets will deliver a short-term spike but no guarantee of a long term fix. In support of whatever sweet things I’ve eaten I always try to have a couple of digestive or similar type biscuits as well. 

These will take longer to be digested and absorbed by your body and help you level out your blood glucose more evenly. If you prefer something a bit more healthy than that, and there’s one available, you could opt for a banana instead. 

I feel there are also a few things it’s worth making you aware of that I have come to understand over the years of having and correcting my own hypos. 

Hypoglycemia Treatment Tips And Tricks

  1. Don’t Over-Correct. 

Trust me, I know how uncomfortable and strange hypos are. I also appreciate that one of the most uncomfortable and strange parts of a hypo is the feeling you get in your stomach. It’s very hard to explain to somebody who hasn’t had a hypo what it is like to feel incredibly sick, incredibly hungry, and teeth grindingly nervous and anxious at the same time. 

I also know, for me anyway, that once I start eating I quite often really, really don’t want to stop. I think this is a combination of how much I like the taste of the sweet things I used to enjoy so often and also an automatic reaction by my body to deliver as many carbs as possible in a race to stop my hypo becoming life-threatening. 

This means that, when you’re feeling at your absolute worst, you have to battle a conscious and innate desire to over correct with sugary foods. This is really not easy to do, but is very important. 

I’ve lost track of the number of times my blood sugar has gone from 2. something to me testing myself an hour/hour and a half later and seeing that I’m sitting at 14 or 15. This is purely down to over correction. And I’m not perfect, I still do over correct sometimes, but there are a couple of ways that I found I can limit this from occurring:

  • I do my best to take only what I need and leave everything else where I found it. Quite often, when you’re low, you don’t have the energy or motivation to get up and that means you aren’t likely to run back to the kitchen to get more food. 
  • Despite what I’ve previously said so far about eating foods I like, a good way I have found of preventing over correction is correcting with foods  I don’t enjoy that much, such as glucose tabs. This removes a lot of the temptation of overheating, and therefore over correcting, as I’m not really enjoying the experience as much. 
  1. Take 5 Minutes 

I am an absolute bugger for not doing this but that doesn’t change the fact it’s good advice and should be shared. When you feel yourself going low it’s easy to pretend it’s not happening, which may sound strange, but you can genuinely sometimes be in a state of denial about it. I like going out trail walking when the weather’s nice (so for about 2 months of the year) and, despite the fact I have been diabetic for some time now, I will still catch myself out and end up going low an hour into a 3 hour walk. 

Of course, I have all the things I need with me in my backpack but I have a tendency to grab them out of my pack and keep on walking. Although this always works out ok I have no doubt it extends all the horrible feelings associated with a hypo when I could easily sit down for 5 minutes, eat some snacks, drink some water and let the worst of it pass. So, don’t be afraid to take a load off, it’s important to respect your diabetes and what it can do. 

  1. Don’t Spend Your Whole Hypo Beating Yourself Up About It 

I used to get really annoyed at myself when my BG went low, still do now every now and then if I’m honest (but much less frequently) I used to blame myself for being a bad diabetic, for not being able to do something as seemingly simple as inject the right amount of insulin for the carbs I’ve eaten. But as time has gone on I’ve realised it’s really not that simple, and that has come as I have got better at doing it too (weirdly!) 

There are so many things that affect your blood sugar, outside of the amount of carbs you’ve eaten and the insulin you’ve injected, that you should in fact be proud of yourself that you manage to keep your blood sugar in range at all! Honestly, give yourself a pat on the back right now, you’re smashing it. So, next time a hypo hits don’t make things 100 times worse by taking it out on yourself! 

Hypoglycemia Treatment For Vegetarians

Google tells me that all the below are vegetarian, so that’s why I’ve listed them here, but obviously do double check. My favourite out of this list has to be the Skittles; taste the rainbow and stop your hypo…

  • Coca Cola (full fat of course!)
  • Haribo Giant Strawberries
  • Parma Violets
  • Colin The Caterpillar
  • Skittles

Hypoglycemia Treatment For Vegans

As above, Google has told me these are all vegan, but I would rather you didn’t take my word for it and did your own research too. Who knew about Starburst? Gotta be strawberry or blackcurrant right? 

  • Starburst
  • Love Hearts
  • Percy Pigs
  • Jelly Tots
  • Irn Bru

And whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or nothing at all, I would suggest you chase any of the above with a tasty Digestive or 2…

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Emergency Treatment For Hypoglycemia

I’m thankful to say that I have never yet had a life threatening hypo, I cam pretty close once, but I was still able to walk to my glucose tabs and eat them to bring myself back to the land of the living. However, I know the threat of a very serious hypo is never too far away. In an instance where you are about to black out, or have already done so and a loved one is needing to administer care to you, I don’t believe there is any substitute for gluco gel. 

This stuff is essentially a paste that is packed full of sugar and extremely easy to administer and digest. If you are close to becoming unresponsive, or someone is trying to get you to ingest something when you already are, there isn’t anything easier.Once again, when you have started to recover it is always recommended to eat something with lower GI carb profile to deliver more consistent carbohydrates to bring you blood sugar to a plateau. 

What’s your favourite hypo food? Did I leave it out? Is something that I said was vegan/vegetarian actually not? Let me know on the socials!