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Feeling faint when dieting

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Old 03-08-2012, 06:19 PM   #1
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Default Feeling faint when dieting

To give a little background info, I crash dieted for many years and was eventually diagnosed as bulimic. Throughout my teens I never really ate properly or consistently, and it eventually lead to a diagnosed eating disorder. I finished CBT for it late last year, during the process I inevitably gained weight.

I'm now here, feeling dramatically different to what I've ever felt before (Yay for cbt!) But I do want to lose about 20lbs. I'm curently hovering around 150lbs ~ I'd like to sit around 130lbs again.

I've noticed that ever since I started eating 3 square meals and snacks, if I miss a meal/have it late or eat less than around 2000cals I feel pretty unwell. Jittery and a bit faint. I used to have low blood pressure, my BP is normal now and I had a blood test not long ago and all appears well.

Could anyone shed any light on why I might be feeling like this? I might well go to the doctors about it at some point, but I would prefer to try a few things first. It feels like the first time in years that I'm not living at my doctors

I was wondering if there was any particular food plans which make help my body feel a bit more sustained? Do you think my previous food issues could have onset any kind of health problem?
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Old 03-08-2012, 06:23 PM   #2
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Try Weight Watchers and you can spread your food out over the day and just keep track of points. You could also try a tablespoon of peanut butter and a 1/2 c. milk when you feel shakey. That ought to hold you until your next meal or snack. Being diabetic I take the Boost drink for diabetics along with me if I know I'm not going to be home in time for lunch at noon. I drink that
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Old 03-08-2012, 07:55 PM   #3
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Low-blood sugar or a sudden drop in blood sugar could be to blame. I also crash dieted much of my life and I even passed out several times (and often felt like it). I didn't realize at the time, but now I know that those feelings (for me) were probably a result of low-blood sugar.

Headaches, irritability, light headedness, dizziness, nausea, and feeling like or actually passing out are all possible symptoms of hypoglycemia ( low-blood sugar).


Spreading out your daily calories can help. You may find that there are symptoms that appear before feeling faint. For example, for me, irritability is the first symtom (although hubby usually notices it before I do). If I don't eat something at the irritability stage, I'll often get a headache and the irritiability gets much worse before I get light headed. Then I get a little nauseous and light headed. Now that I know the cycle, I'm able to break it at a much earlier stage.

If I wait until I feel like I'm going to faint, I get panicky and want to fix it ASAP which means sugar. Sugar fixes the problem quickest, but it also makes the problem worse in the long run. So if I "catch it" early I can eat a bit of protein or fat (such as peanut butter, or a piece of cheese).

Whether or not this helps, you still will want to see a doctor, because feeling faitnt or fainting and blood sugar issues alone or together can be a sign of other health problems, so you really should see a doctor and ask for a "full metabolic panel" including not only a blood sugar test, but also an A1C test (which reflects blood sugar levels over a longer period of time) and a glucose-tolerance test (to check for diabetes or insulin resistance), and thyroid testing as well.
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Old 03-21-2012, 11:03 AM   #4
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Hello, Serendipity!

I dieted unsuccessfully for years (gained 90 lbs.) partly because of that light-headed feeling. I finally saw a nutritionist and am beginning to lose weight without feeling sick. When she suggested these guidelines, I thought it was nutty and I was VERY unexcited with it, because I just don't like meat too much.

Anyhow, what has been working for me has been 2-4 daily servings of grains/starchy veg (note: servings are TINY--a cafe-sized muffin or a single large pancake equals 3-4 servings; 2-3 servings of fruit (a large apple is 2); unlimited non-starchy veg; a little dairy; and ABOUT A HALF A POUND OF MEAT/other proteins! Ick, I really dislike meat and don't enjoy so much of it day after day. But, I no longer feel sick.

For me to not feel sick, it helps to have protein or starch at every meal. If I have a meal of all vegetables, I get REALLY GRUMPY really fast. It also took me about 2 weeks for my body to adjust to eating this way, but now it is working for me, and I've lost 14 pounds in about 6 weeks.

Good luck! You might try more protein--my symptoms are the same as yours (extreme irritability, headache, and also loss of energy), and this is the only way I've ever lost weight except by yo-yo starvation. Also, I don't know if this matters, but I cook almost everything I eat at home, so these serving quantities seem to be working without adding a whole lot of fat--I can still get light-headed easily eating restaurant food. I don't know why, maybe nutrient density vs. fat/cal content.
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Old 04-26-2012, 04:38 AM   #5
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Make sure you don't harbour any guilt perhaps thinking you caused this by having the eating disorder. You didn't ask for an eating disorder so you didn't do this to yourself, if this is related to the eating disorder then it's an unfortunate side-effect of an illness that you had. But that may be totally irrelevant, you may well be one of the people who would always have had this issue even if you had never had an eating disorder at all. I have always felt faint when I am dieting. Whether I eat one food group or concentrate on another food group or have higher calories, lower calories, none of it makes any difference, if I try to control my food intake to anything other than "Eat as much as you like of whatever you want" then I feel faint and ill. Unfortunately it's something I've just decided I have to put up with for the pay-off.

Is there any chance you are chronically exhausted? Perhaps you have a stressful job, lots of kids, an incredibly active social life? I found that what I had been doing was abusing energy rushes, much as someone might abuse high dose caffeine or stronger things like amphetamines, in order to wring more energy out of my body when it was actually done for. I was exhausted, but if I had a candy bar I could go another hour on the energy in that candy bar, then crash. I could maybe get 20 minutes extra out of a pot of plain yoghurt. The higher the carb rush the more likely I could overcome the tiredness, but all foods would give me a short term boost as pretty much everything can be made into glucose one way or another by our bodies. When I stopped abusing the food and realised that when my body said I was exhausted it was time to lie down, not time to eat, I realised that there was too much going on in my life and I had to slim it down to something I could cope with. It was a whole lot easier to cut back when I stopped confusing hungry with tired. Now I have got rid of the worst of the exhaustion I don't need to lie down so often and I can just take a rest.

I do still have to eat frequently, though. I find I have to eat to the clock, I cannot wait until I feel hungry and then eat as I realise far too late, I don't respond to early signs of hunger, I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine and then I have to eat everything that is not nailed down as fast as possible. I now eat every time it's a meal time or snack time. As it happens my body is the same with other things too, I don't feel gradually a bit chilly, I feel fine for ages, then I realise I've been sitting in the cold for 5 hours and I have hypothermia, so I had to get a thermometer and if it reads low then I put some more clothes on, regardless of how I feel. It's been all about reacting to subtle things not extremes. My body is no longer a reliable witness.
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Old 05-02-2012, 07:32 AM   #6
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low blood pressure or dehydration
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Old 05-03-2012, 03:00 AM   #7
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This thread is a couple months old now, but I just wanted to add my two cents. My dizzy/faintingness comes from low Iron and low Vitamin D levels. They are normally checked in a standard blood test but I would maybe ask your doctor about them specifically and as long as they weren't high to begin with you can always try adding more sources of iron and vitamin D to your diet anyways and see if it helps.
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