As most of you know, I love eating food. I consider eating food to be an experience, not just a habit. Nevertheless, my body does not always like to eat the foods I would like. I have a slight allergy to all nuts, which can make finding snacks or baking difficult. Most importantly, I must watch what I eat because I am hypoglycemic. I have been for nearly four years now and from what I understand, I will be for the rest of my life.
Medically speaking, hypoglycemia is low blood sugar. It is like diabetes, but it is not. Simply put, I have to eat food every two to four hours, in order to maintain my blood sugar levels. Otherwise, I feel rather shaky, nauseous, and cannot focus well, usually due to an on-setting headache.
One has to be medically diagnosed with hypoglycemia. I remember when I first started showing symptoms of hypoglycemia, I was trying to ween myself off of coffee for a little bit. I just thought I was experiencing caffeine headaches. The physician’s assistant I saw thought it could’ve been more than that when I listed off my symptoms.
So, he had me take a sugar-glucose test. In this test, you have to fast for 12 hours. Then, have a vial of blood taken every hour for four hours. In between the first and second hour, one must drink a nasty, sugar drink that helps the body react accordingly. The drink tastes like a Sierra Mist soda has been left out overnight on the counter.
Somehow, the drink affects blood sugar levels. If someone has hypoglycemia, their sugar levels will drop further with each hour and vial of blood. And, he or she will probably experience the common symptoms I listed above. For example, my sugar levels fell nearly thirty points between hours three and four.
Needless to say, I was not feeling well at all when I left the hospital. In fact, I felt so bad that I did not feel comfortable driving home. I ended up leaving my car at the hospital, getting a ride home, and finding food at the nearest place I could. A week later, I found out, sure enough, I had hypoglycemia.
In order to combat this shakiness, I can eat sugary foods to quickly increase my glucose levels. But, that is only a quick fix. In order to evenly maintain my sugar levels for an extended period of time, I have to eat something with protein. Therefore, I probably eat more protein than the average person. Protein is the best, longest lasting solution for me.
Sometimes, I like knowing I have to eat protein. Other times, it can make life difficult. It’s extremely tiresome when I want to enjoy a basic salad without chicken. Or, when I want to simply have some form of bread. Other times, I struggle to find something simply because I can’t eat nuts, which are full of protein.
Even though finding food and simply wanting to eat the necessary foods my body needs can be challenging, I am grateful for my diagnoses. It forced me to truly care for my body. Before, I could go an entire morning, afternoon, or even day without food simply because I didn’t think I had time. Truthfully, though, I didn’t make time for it. I didn’t make it a priority. Now, my body, quite literally, tells me when I need to stop and take a break through the symptoms.
It is up to me if I want to listen early on or if I want to wait to eat something twenty minutes after I absolutely needed food. The longer I wait, the greater the symptoms and the worse I feel. I consider the diagnoses a form of God’s graciousness in my life. He knew the only way I’d learn that lesson was by changing my physical body first. Then, my mind would eventually realize the value of self-care.
Self-care, yes. There it is again. It is crucial that we treat our bodies with kindness, whether that means cutting out certain foods, taking vitamins, exercising, or simply taking control of our nutritional intake. I won’t say I don’t still have bad days where I don’t listen to my body, like today. But, they are far and few between compared to nearly four years ago.
My call to you is this: Learn to value self-care on your own time and with your own motivation. Don’t wait for your body to coerce you to learn. I don’t know what that may look like for you. Nevertheless, I challenge you to figure it out.
So, there you have it. I am living proof of God’s undeserved grace, in more ways than one. Now, if you don’t mind, I am going to enjoy a juicy bacon cheeseburger.