Balancing blood sugar levels is not just crucial for physical health but also for maintaining emotional stability and mental well-being.  I used to get hangry (hungry and angry/irritable) all the time.  It happened so much that my friends would tease me about it and my husband would carry a “squirrel bag” of snacks around just in case the hanger would strike.  For a long time I thought this was just a quirky trait of how my body worked.  What I didn’t know is that I was letting my body get hypoglycemic almost daily and then trying to fix it with carbohydrate laden snacks, like apples that weren’t paired with any protein or healthy fats.  By doing this I was causing my body to be on a blood sugar roller coaster all day long.  I also didn’t understand  that these blood sugar swings were ultimately causing harm to my daily emotional life and also long-term issues to my metabolism, hormones, metabolic flexibility and mental clarity. 

Blood sugar, or glucose, is the body’s primary source of energy, and its levels can significantly influence how we feel and think.  By allowing blood sugar imbalances to continue without putting them in check can lead a person towards insulin resistance, prediabetes and ultimately Type 2 diabetes, all of which are preventable conditions through diet and lifestyle.  People often overlook the emotional toll of physical health being slightly (or extremely) out-of-whack.  Therefore, it’s important to take simple steps towards greater blood sugar balance in order to prevent health issues in the future, reverse current symptoms and care for our mental and emotional well-being on a daily basis.    

The Role of Blood Sugar in the Body

Glucose is derived from the foods we eat, particularly carbohydrates, and is transported through the bloodstream to provide energy to cells throughout the body. The hormone insulin, produced by the pancreas, helps cells absorb glucose from the blood. When blood sugar levels are balanced, the body and brain function optimally. However, fluctuations in blood sugar can lead to emotional and cognitive disturbances.

Blood Sugar Swings and Emotional Health

  1. Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)
    • Symptoms: Irritability, anxiety, confusion, and fatigue.
    • What’s going on: When blood sugar drops too low, the brain, which relies heavily on glucose, doesn’t get enough energy to function properly. This can lead to mood swings, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. Severe hypoglycemia can even result in confusion and panic attacks.
  2. Hyperglycemia (High Blood Sugar)
    • Symptoms: Lethargy, mood swings, and feelings of sadness.
    • What’s going on: High blood sugar levels can cause the body to become sluggish, leading to feelings of lethargy and fatigue. Over time, chronic hyperglycemia can lead to insulin resistance, which is linked to depressive symptoms and cognitive decline.

The Impact of Blood Sugar on Mental Health

  1. Mood Swings
    • Causes: Rapid spikes and drops in blood sugar levels.
    • Effects: Consuming high-sugar foods causes a quick spike in blood sugar, followed by a rapid drop. This “sugar crash” can lead to feelings of irritability, anxiety, and sadness.
  2. Anxiety
    • Causes: Hypoglycemia can trigger the body’s stress response.
    • Effects: Low blood sugar levels stimulate the release of adrenaline, a stress hormone, which can cause symptoms of anxiety such as nervousness, sweating, and a racing heart.
  3. Depression
    • Causes: Chronic high blood sugar and insulin resistance.
    • Effects: Long-term elevated blood sugar levels and poor glycemic control are associated with inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which are linked to the development of depression.
  4. Cognitive Function
    • Causes: Fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
    • Effects: Both high and low blood sugar levels can impair cognitive functions such as memory, attention, and decision-making. Stable blood sugar levels are essential for maintaining focus and mental clarity.

Strategies for Balancing Blood Sugar and Enhancing Mental Health

  1. Eat Balanced Meals
    • Include Protein and Healthy Fats: Combining carbohydrates with protein and healthy fats slows down the absorption of sugar, preventing rapid spikes and drops in blood sugar levels.
    • Choose Complex Carbohydrates: Foods like whole grains and vegetables provide a steady release of glucose into the bloodstream, helping to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
  2. Regular Meals and Snacks
    • Consistent Eating Schedule: Eating regular meals and healthy snacks prevents blood sugar levels from dropping too low, reducing the risk of mood swings and irritability.
  3. Limit Sugary Foods and Drinks
    • Reduce Refined Sugar Intake: Avoiding sugary foods and drinks helps prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar levels. Opt for natural sweeteners and whole foods instead.
  4. Stay Hydrated
    • Drink Plenty of Water: Proper hydration supports overall health and helps maintain stable blood sugar levels. Dehydration can affect mood and cognitive function.
  5. Exercise Regularly
    • Physical Activity: Regular exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control, supporting both physical and mental health.
  6. Manage Stress
    • Stress Reduction Techniques: Practices such as mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing can help manage stress, which in turn helps regulate blood sugar levels.


Understanding the link between blood sugar and mental health underscores the importance of maintaining balanced blood sugar levels as a lifestyle. By making mindful dietary choices, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and managing stress, we can support not only our physical health but also our emotional and mental well-being. Keeping blood sugar levels stable is a key component of achieving a balanced and healthy life.

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