Richardson Eating Disorder Service – Hypoglycaemia in adult eating disorders – Easy read

This leaflet- Easy Read is for people with eating disorders are at risk of experiencing low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia).

  • Low blood sugar

    We wrote this leaflet because many people with eating disorders have low blood sugar.

    An eating disorder can involve eating too much or too little and being really anxious about your weight and body shape.

    This leaflet tells you about low blood  sugar and what you can do about it.

    It might make you think of things to ask your doctor.

  • What is low blood sugar

    Sugar (or glucose) in your blood gives your body energy. When you do not have enough energy, your brain and body cannot work properly.

    Low blood sugar can cause:

    • hunger
    • sweating
    • feeling anxious
    • feeling shaky
    • fast or fluttering heartbeat
    • being very pale
    • fits
    • problems with your sight
    • being confused and acting differently
    • not being able to do everyday things
    • fainting and the risk of


  • What causes low blood sugar

    If you have an eating disorder you get low blood sugar when you starve yourself.

    But it can also happen when you start eating again.

    This is because your body has to use blood sugar to break down the food into more energy.

  • Why you need carbohydrates

    Carbohydrates (carbs) are sugars or starches that give your body energy to work properly.

    Sugars come from fruit and sugary food.

    Starches come from things like beans, nuts, potatoes and bread.

    Your body needs a store of carbs to use for energy.

    If your weight is really low and you go without carbs for 2 or 3 hours, you can get low blood sugar.

  • What to do if you have low blood sugar

    1. Drink or eat one of these:

    200mls pure fruit juice

    5 to 7 dextrose tablets.

    Please check the food or drink label contains at least 15-20 grams of sugars.


    2.  Within 15 minutes eat one of these

    2 slices of bread as a sandwich

    2 digestive biscuits

    1 medium banana

    Your next meal with carbohydrates if it is time for you to eat it.

    If you are worried or feeling really unwell:

    • ring 999 or
    • go to the nearest hospital Accident and Emergency Department.

    Do not drive if you have low blood sugar.

    The only way to make sure your blood sugar stays normal all the time is to:

    • follow your meal plan
    • eat carbohydrates regularly through the day for example pasta, bread, cereals, potatoes or rice
    • not do too much


  • Credits

    This paper has been designed and produced by the Easy Read service at Inspired Services Publishing Ltd.

    Ref ISL163 18. September 2018.

    It meets the European Easy Read Standard.

    The Your Voice Counts – making Easy Read information.

    Selected photos are from the Easy Read collection and cannot be used anywhere else without written permission from Inspired Services Publishing Ltd.

    Ref PIC/801/0424 V3 ER

    Review date 2027