Hey Cindy/Jaime, I started RRARFing about a month ago, and I used to get really bad “hyploglycemia” spells similar to what you both describe. Used to = not anymore!
For me, the trick (in the beginning) was actually not to eat too much in one sitting, and especially really limit protein (at least in the first half of the day), because in its compromised metabolic state my body really struggled to process large amounts of food or difficult to digest foods. I think the biggest key was to coax my body out of a stress state with high-carb easily digested meals, and eating frequently enough to avoid ever letting my body go back into the stress state. This meant I was eating different kinds of porridge (mostly oat bran and millet–they were the easiest to digest, and felt healing for my digestive system) with lots of salt and butter pretty much every hour. I wasn’t eating a ton of it at each sitting, but I was eating it consistently enough to get a lot of calories in. Once I’d eat the porridge, I’d wait a bit to see how I was feeling and then follow up with whatever other food I wanted.
I did notice that if I had more than a couple grams of protein in the meal, especially any earlier than 3pm, I’d feel like total shit. Back to the hypoglycemic haze, heart racing and then total knock-out fatigue. Vegetables made me feel horrible too, as did fruits other than bananas. Recently I’ve been able to add in a bit more protein, but only after I’ve already had some easy-to-digest carbs. I’ve also been able to add in fresh fruits and vegetables, even things like grapefruit and raw salad (but I’m careful about those, especially if I haven’t eaten in a while).
I’ll describe the rest of my experience a bit: I’m coming off of nearly 10 years of damage to my metabolism via sporadic abusive/restrictive eating behaviors, most damagingly a few months of low-carb idiocy this summer that nearly killed me (or at least made me feel like I was dying). I’d largely gotten over my ED tendencies in the past year–I graduated from college and started working on a farm, getting strong and feeling good about myself, and eating a ton of really high quality food. While I was doing a lot of physical exercise (farming, biking for transportation, yoga) I’d also stopped restricting for the first time, so it was generally good for my body.
Unfortunately my gluten sensitivity, which I’d developed a few years after my restrictive behaviors began, persisted (and even got worse). Out of a desperate desire to permanently heal my gut, I started GAPS. While GAPS isn’t specifically low cal or low carb, it was both for me, considering how restrictive it is and how high my activity level was. On the plus side, GAPS cured my idiotic fear of fatty foods (thank god). On the down side, my energy levels were horribly low, and when I started weaning myself off GAPS, reintroducing sugar and simpler carbs, I started having yeast problems (mostly tinea versicolor on my skin). So this summmer I fucked up big time by doing a strict anti-Candida diet. This was extremely low carb, like under 50 net carbs per day. While I do believe it helped clear up the yeast-related issues, it messed me up in every other possible way. I lost 15 pounds that I didn’t necessarily need to lose (and was disturbingly proud of myself–eek), looked like I had two permanent black eyes, my blood pressure averaged 90/55, and my temperatures were anywhere between 94.5-96. Super messed up!! This persisted even after I stopped the candida diet and added carbs. I had no energy whatsoever, had horrible stomach aches from almost everything I ate, and constantly felt like crying. Really intense “adrenal fatigue” symptoms, which I now understand were mostly STARVATION symptoms.
The worst were the hypoglycemic spells, which were ever-more frustrating because they’d be worse after I’d eat. I would feel weak, dizzy, helpless, heart racing and know that I needed to eat something. Then I’d eat something and feel even worse, often with horrible stomach aches to boot, to the point that after most meals I could do nothing but lay down while tears pathetically trickled down my face. I totally lost my appetite, and developed some pathalogical fear of food. It was, needless to say, really lame.
So like I outlined in the beginning, when I started RRARFing I kinda went slow because my digestion was so compromised that large meals (especially if they weren’t exclusively carb-based) would debilitate me. I worked my way up to a more appropriately RRARF-like lifestyle over the course of two weeks, and my temperatures started to gradually increase–like from 95 to high96’s–and my energy slooooowly began to increase as well (barely, but I was still stoked). I even dared to reintroduce gluten, mostly in the form of gingerbread cookies. And, after one initial gassy episode (probably because I ate the gluten while stressed out), I stopped having problems with it!! Okay, there was a bit of constipation at first, but far from the excruciating stomach cramps, bloating, and gas I used to get. I’ve also been taking a lot of strong probiotics, drinking kefir & eating other cultured dairy, and eating lots of sauerkraut–that’s because I visited a gastroenterologist (before I realized I was just chronically hungry) who discovered I had extremely low “good bacteria,” though I knew all about that issue from my GAPS days.
What really helped my progress was visiting my boyfriend’s family in kazakhstan for the holidays: his mom took care of the “aggressive” aspect of the refeeding (which I’d been kind of sheepish about). I’m so glad I’d already been riding the RRARFing train when I visitied, because my old restricting self would have driven his mom (and herself) crazy. Though I felt uncomfortably full and lazy the whole time I was visiting his family (it was a lot of meat pies, piles of meat and rice, piles of meat dumplings, etc), now that I’m back my temps are shockingly warm and my energy levels are, dare I say, normal! About one month into it, I’m averaging 97.8+ upon waking, and getting as high as 99 (after meals) during the day, though I’ll still sometimes go down to 97 before bed. I’ve even (cautiously) started practicing yoga again, and going for longer walks when I feel like it. It hasn’t negatively affected my temperatures.
Okay this response is already really long but I’m down to my last comments, about the good-day bad-day thing. Yeah some days I have less energy than other days, which I think mostly happens if I haven’t had enough salt the day before. If I’m having a particularly low energy day, I really emphasize eating more (like as soon as I’m no longer feeling full from my last meal, I eat again) and getting a lot of salt–it doesn’t necessarily help that very day, but the next day I’ll usually feel great.