Sometimes it can be tough. Everybody struggles with good and bad days. When you’re diabetic, you struggle with high blood sugar and low blood sugar. While occurring for the same reason, blood sugar, they have quite different effects. What you may not realize is that it plays a role in your relationships. This is because blood sugar affects your brain and personality.
When your blood sugar is low, you become confused and frustrated. If it gets too low, you can add body shakes and dizziness. Sometimes it’s quite scary. It’s like you’re trapped in an alien's body. You don't know how your body will react on a given day.
Of course, the opposite is high blood sugar. With high blood sugar, you may turn mean. You may find yourself picking arguments and fighting over things that really don’t matter. These events also leave you feeling physically and emotionally exhausted.
It can be very frustrating for your friends and family. They may think something is wrong with you. Or they think you’re being very harsh on them. You may even find yourself telling harsh truths that don’t need to be spoken. It can feel like you can’t control yourself. Sometimes, you don't even realize you're doing it!
The way you control it is by controlling your blood sugar. Blood sugar does affect your brain chemistry. According to the Harvard School of Medicine, "The brain is so rich in nerve cells, or neurons. It is the most energy-demanding organ, using over one-half of all the sugar energy in the body."
Food gets broken down into glucose, blood sugar. Sugar fuels the brain. When you're hypoglycemic, low blood sugar, you don't have enough energy for the brain to produce the brain's texts between neurons, neuro transmitters. The lack of communication between the neurons shows up as poor attention, confusion, and reduced cognitive function.
Long term hypoglycemia can cause the brain to shrink. High amounts of blood sugar damage the cells. Over time, this can lead to small blood vessel disease, restricting blood flow. It causes cognitive difficulties. This can damage your sight as well. In severe cases, it can lead to vascular dementia.
Source: "Sugar and the Brain"
Harvard Medical School Spring 2016
If you are struggling to keep your blood sugar down, this week's recipe is sure to help. Balsamic vinegar is known to help control blood sugar. Kale is a low carbohydrate vegetable that won't spike your sugar. You may even need to add some carbohydrates to your meal.
2 bundles of kale
4 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 wild onion stems or 4 large chive sprigs, minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons garlic
1/2 teaspoon jalapeños pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil, dried & crushed
2 tablespoons bacon bits
After washing the kale and spinning dry, remove the leaves from the stems. Toss the stems in the compost.
Heat up the coconut oil in a large skillet on medium heat.
Add the garlic, onions, pepper flakes, oregano and basil. Cook for 2 minutes, just enough to brown the garlic but not cook off the oil.
Add the kale and stir in to coat the kale with the oil.
Pour in the balsamic vinegar. If you like balsamic vinegar, you may choose to double it.
Cover and steam the kale for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don't let the kale stick to the bottom of the pan.
Remove from the heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes.
Add the bacon bits and toss the kale to mix.
I must stop and thank a few friends for their support and candid feedback. S has taken the time to discuss diabetes with a doctor to understand how blood sugar affects personality. He followed it up with several in-depth conversations with me. He asked many questions about certain situations. It clarified why I act the way I do.
Personality swings happen with changing blood sugar levels. Our friends and family may wonder... Who are you and what did you do with my easy-going friend? It is just part of being diabetic. We can't be perfect all the time! Still, it's great to have such a good friend that made me more aware of my switching personality traits. Open, inquisitive conversations help me see my diabetes from another person's point of view.
V has been the best friend a diabetic could ever have. She's been the witness to several of my angry, hyperglycemic outbursts. She's seen it with her father-in-law as well. Both of us have taken time to apologize and try to prevent future episodes. It makes me work even harder to control my diet.
Carbohydrates and sugars in some foods can cause these outbursts. A new food or recipe can do it. It's that one or two ingredients that you forget to tell a diabetic that may cause a blood sugar spike. It may be an unknown ingredient that will do it. This is why you don't tempt or force food on diabetics.
If you have a favorite dish, you would like to be diabetic friendly, just let me know by leaving a note below. I've learned how to swap blood sugar spiking ingredients for others with a lower glycemic index. It may take a week or two, but I love the challenge. Please comment, like, share, and come back next week for more recipes, ideas, and tips. Subscribe to the website, if you would like weekly email reminders to add more recipes to your recipe book.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, but a compilation of research from medical sites. Make sure to see your doctor and have up-to-date lab work.