The symptoms range from headaches, lightheadedness, not able to focus, distortions in time and the everlasting sweet tooth.
The symptoms of low blood sugar are the same as you would experience at high altitudes when you do not get enough oxygen. When the brain is not getting enough oxygen and/or sugar, it is incomplete fuel for it to function. With this imbalance, your brain is unable to work at its optimum. When you quit, the oxygen level in your blood is higher than it has ever been but with a changed amount of sugar, it is not able to fuel your brain well.
Cigarettes do not add sugar to your blood, it has more to do with the drug interaction due to the stimulating effect of nicotine that works on the glucose levels in your blood. This drug interaction makes your body give up its own sugar and fat stores. This is why it works to suppress hunger, working on the centers of hypothalamus that contribute to food satiation. For the sugar levels, nicotine works more efficiently than food.
When you eat food, it takes close to 20 minutes from the time when you have chewed and swallowed your food for the glucose to be released through the blood to the brain. Cigarettes, on the other hand, makes the body give up its sugar stores within minutes! In fact, your body gives up its sugar levels for the first time due to the nicotine’s effect.
This is why some people really get a hearty appetite when they quit. There is an instant drop in glucose levels and they grab anything sweet. Sadly, even after the consumption of food, they feel the withdrawal symptoms. Since there isn’t any instant help anymore, these people try to eat more than what they would normally. In fact, they continue eating more till they start to feel good again.
Of course, if they are waiting for their blood sugar to rise, you now know it takes 20 minutes after you swallowed your food. You could actually end up eating a lot of food in 20 minutes! Sadly enough, most begin to believe that this is the amount of food required to eat before you can feel better. Remember this is not just one meal but happens several times through the day. Now, you can calculate the amount of calories one can ingest this way and weight gain will definitely be an issue!
When you quit smoking suddenly, the body feels a loss since it hadn’t worked normally for a long time. Usually after the 3rd day, your body will be able to replenish the sugar and readapt to the changes. You will not have to eat more than required and your body will become more efficient at governing the blood glucose levels.
You will have to change your diet and eating pattern to a more regular one. This would mean to the kind of pattern you had before you began smoking. As smokers, some people can remain without a meal till evening. If they do this as non-smokers, the blood sugar levels will get really low.
It is not that something is wrong with you now, you were abnormal earlier (as smokers) for all the reasons you already know. You do not have to begin consuming more food but what this means is that you will have to change your pattern through the day so that there is a constant flow of glucose throughout as it should be naturally.
So that you can counter the first few days when low blood sugar will be a reality, you can consume plenty fruit juices. After the first 3 days, you won’t need to do this anymore since your body should be able to release glucose from the stores on its own.
If problems with the blood sugar level persist beyond day 3, it would do good to speak with a physician and get some nutritional guidance. Allow your body to get permanent control over your glucose levels…quit smoking today and never pick up that cigarette again!