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What foods should I eat or avoid for hypoglycemia?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on Jan 6, 2022.

Official answer


If you have diabetes, then you will know that certain foods can significantly affect your blood sugar levels. There is no one-size-fits-all meal plan for people with diabetes, but it can be confusing knowing what you can and can’t eat. In general, meals that are high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and low in fat help to minimize fluctuations between high and low blood sugar levels. It also helps if you make your meals smaller and spread them out during the day so that you are eating every 3 to 4 hours instead of only having 3 large meals a day.

You should avoid foods high in saturated fat or sugar and choose foods high in protein, soluble fiber, or with a low glycemic index (low GI) score – these low GI foods contain carbohydrates that take the body longer to break down. Alcohol can also play havoc with your blood sugar levels, and if you don’t want to eliminate it, then keep it to a minimum and never mix alcohol with sugar-filled mixers, such as fruit juice. Eat a small meal soon after waking, a wholesome snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon, a light lunch and dinner, and then a small bedtime healthy snack.

Some examples of nutritionally high breakfasts suitable for people at risk of hypoglycemia include:

  • Scrambled or hardboiled eggs, plus a slice of whole-grain bread with cinnamon (cinnamon may help reduce blood sugar)
  • Steel-cut oatmeal, with blueberries, kiwifruit, peaches, or sunflower seeds
  • Plain Greek yogurt with berries, honey, and oatmeal

Some examples of nutritionally high mid-morning or mid-afternoon snacks suitable for people at risk of hypoglycemia include:

  • A small apple or peach with cheddar cheese
  • A banana mixed with a handful of almonds or walnuts
  • One piece of avocado or hummus on whole-grain toast
  • 4 whole-grain crackers and a can of sardines or tuna
  • No-sugar peanut butter on whole-grain bread or crackers
  • One cup of brown rice with kidney beans

Some examples of nutritionally high lunches suitable for people at risk of hypoglycemia include:

  • A tuna or chicken salad sandwich on whole-grain bread with romaine lettuce
  • A green salad topped with chicken, chickpeas, tomatoes, and carrots
  • One piece of grilled fish, a baked sweet potato, and a side salad or side of cooked veggies

When it comes to your evening meal, keep it as small as your other meals, but ensure you include protein and complex carbohydrates. Some examples of nutritionally high dinners suitable for people at risk of hypoglycemia include:

  • Soup, such as lentil and quinoa
  • Grilled fish with broccoli, peas, and sweet potato
  • Broccoli salad with artichokes, black beans, and sun-dried tomatoes
  • Chicken Vege stir fry with zucchini, carrots, and broccoli
  • Vegetarian lentil tacos.

Before you go to bed, a small snack close to bedtime can help keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the night. Some examples of light bedtime snacks suitable for people at risk of hypoglycemia include:

  • Low-sugar, high protein Greek yogurt mixed with blueberries and walnuts
  • A no-sugar vegetable smoothie

Foods that are not suitable for people with hypoglycemia to eat because they can cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate significantly include:

  • White bread, white rice, and pasta
  • Trans fats
  • Sugar-sweetened drinks
  • Fruit-flavored yogurt
  • Sweetened breakfast cereals
  • Honey, agave nectar, and maple syrup
  • Dried fruit
  • Pretzels, crackers, or chips
  • French fries and other fried food
  • Fruit juices. These are best avoided, but if you do want to drink juice occasionally choose 100% juice varieties without added sweeteners, dilute the juice with water and only drink one glass. Water with a little squeeze of lemon added is preferred
  • Caffeine found in coffee, flavored coffee drinks, and energy drinks can affect blood sugar levels in some people. Decaffeinated coffee or herbal tea are preferred.

  • 5. Lifestyle Management: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2019 Diabetes Care 2019;42(Supplement_1): S46–S60
  • What is a healthy, balanced diet for diabetes? Diabetes UK.

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