NEW YORK, N.Y., March 22, 2007—Nicole Richie’s recent diagnosis of "hypoglycemia" isn't surprising to health experts familiar with signs of the condition.
Nicole Richie — who suffered from much-publicized fainting spells, as well as moments of weakness, wooziness and dizziness, while on the set of the reality show, “The Simple Life” — recently learned that she has hypoglycemia and is “taking steps to manage it,” according to her representative.
“The symptoms that Nicole Richie reportedly experienced — faintness, lightheadedness, weak spells, dizziness, and difficulty walking or speaking clearly — are among many tell-tale symptoms of hypoglycemia, which is also known as low blood sugar,” says hypoglycemia and sugar addiction expert Connie Bennett.
“Nicole Richie is among some 74 million to 174 million Americans with hypoglycemia, who are often mystified as to why they’re enduring such ailments as vertigo, mental confusion, depression, exhaustion, Jekyll-Hyde mood swings, anger outbursts and fatigue,” adds Bennett, author of SUGAR SHOCK!: How Sweets and Simple Carbs Can Derail Your Life—And How You Can Get Back on Track (Berkley Books, 2007), with Stephen Sinatra, M.D.
“Sadly, hypoglycemia is one of the least understood and most maligned health conditions — even by members of the mainstream medical community. Most people don’t know that their symptoms are manifesting because their blood glucose drops abnormally low, and often eating too much sugar, becoming very stressed, skipping meals or over-exercising triggered those ailments,” Bennett continues.
“Nicole Richie must be so relieved to get answers that finally explain her dizziness, weak spells and faintness. I just hope that her doctor also advised her to avoid sugar, soda, sweet desserts and refined carbohydrates,” adds the author, whose doctor gave her these very instructions in 1998 when he diagnosed her reactive hypoglycemia.
Bennett says that you can prevent such mystifying hypoglycemia symptoms such as fainting, weak spells and vertigo by:
• Eating moderate portions of high-quality foods every three to four hours (or about five to six times a day).
• Completely cutting out sugar and refined carbs such as white bread, most crackers, white rice and white pasta.
• Getting ample protein, slow-acting carbohydrates (such as vegetables and low-sugar fruits) and healthy fats.
• Never skipping meals, especially breakfast.
• Exercising regularly, if possible. (Light snacks before and aftewards may also be helpful.)
• Working with a qualified nutritionist or health care professional.
Bennett—a certified holistic health counselor, former sugar addict and self-described “Ex-Sugar Shrew!”—gives Nicole Richie fans and other people 9 of many warning signs of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. (These symptoms also could mean that you're in sugar shock or have a sugar addiction.)
1. Feeling unexplained faintness, dizziness or weak spells (such as those experienced by Nicole Richie).
2. Experiencing such baffling symptoms as staggering, lack of coordination, abnormal weight (loss or gain) and mental confusion or “brain fog” (which Nicole Richie also reportedly suffered).
3. Suddenly becoming wiped out and spacey. (Usually, people with hypoglycemia or low blood sugar wrongly grab quick, sugary snacks or drinks, which only make matters worse.)
4. Flipping from wired to tired, at a moment’s notice.
5. Getting abnormal, almost insatiable cravings for candy, soda and other sweets or fast-acting, refined carbs such as chips, white flour bread or white rice.
6. Suffering from ferocious headaches, the shakes or heart palpitations.
7. Displaying unpredictable cranky behavior, temper outbursts or crying spells.
8. Having excessive fatigue—so much so that extra sleep even doesn’t seem to help much.
9. Hearing unconvinced loved ones or doctors falsely assuming that your symptoms are “all in your head.” (Bennett wonders if Nicole Richie went through this frustrating experience, as do many hypoglycemia sufferers.)
Nicole Richie -- as well as millions of people with hypoglycemia, pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes and sugar addiction -- can make important lifestyle and dietary changes that could bring level moods, better concentration, more consistent energy, improved relationships, and maybe even increased libido, says Bennett, whose book, SUGAR SHOCK! includes revealing information about the dangers of hypoglycemia and the tragedy of misdiagnosis.