Low blood sugar can occur one to three hours after eating, leaving you feeling fatigued and hungry again. Called reactive hypoglycemia, this type of low blood sugar isn’t associated with diabetes and doesn’t indicate an underlying medical condition. Reactive hypoglycemia usually doesn’t require medical treatment – just some simple dietary changes.
When you eat, your body converts food into glucose, your primary source of energy. Certain types of food, especially sugar and other simple carbohydrates, are quickly turned into energy. The faster glucose hits your bloodstream, the more likely your body is to over-react, often by releasing too much insulin. This leads to low blood sugar, or reactive hypoglycemia, after eating. It can happen as soon as one hour after you start eating, or you could start to feel the symptoms, such as fatigue, hunger, headache and mood swings, up to three hours after eating.
Preventing Reactive Hypoglycemia
If you can control the speed your body converts food into glucose, you can prevent reactive hypoglycemia. Choose foods that slow digestion — high-fiber complex carbohydrates, fat and protein. Avoid added sugars, starchy vegetables and products made from refined white flours. Eating whole grain bread instead of white bread and brown rice instead of potatoes will give your body a steady supply of glucose — not a rush of too much at once. Smaller meals and eating more frequently will also help to regulate glucose and insulin production.