i mentioned briefly in a previous post that in my last trimester of pregnancy, i have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. since then, i have had quite a few people ask me questions as they didn't know much about it. i have also had people assume that i was sitting around eating buckets of brownies and snickers bars. so i thought i would talk a bit about my situation and what i have learned from the little i know about gestational diabetes.
gestational diabetes happens during the later weeks of pregnancy and is a temporary form of diabetes, hence the name. it doesn't mean i am diabetic, it simply means that the hormones that the placenta is producing are directing everything to the baby and blocking my ability to produce enough insulin to break down the glucose in my body and rather then convert it to energy, the glucose stays in my blood.
because of this, exercise is key to keeping blood sugar levels stable as it helps to burn the glucose that my body can't convert to energy right now. it is not fully known why some pregnant women develop gd while others can eat in-n-out burgers all the live long day, but if you are one of those who can indulge in all of your ice cream and pickle cravings without a care in the world, consider yourself lucky... and have a slice of pizza for me.
i do admit that i was shocked when i learned that i had gd, because those who know me know that i eat pretty healthy. sure, i indulge in a bite of dessert now and again (i'm only human) but for the most part i am a savory food girly and not so much a sweet tooth and eat tons of salads dressed with only olive oil and fresh lemon juice, yummy soups, organic veggies, seasonal fruits etc. i don't eat fast foods or junk foods because i don't like how they make me feel, physically or emotionally. i try to stay away from all things processed (although my weakness is cereal) and believe it or not i have only gained 16 lbs with this pregnancy so i really am all baby. any extra juicy goodness on me was there prior to my getting pregnant, thank you pasta. so i learned that even though i don't eat snicker's bars or drink soda, the fact that i do eat fruits, yogurt, honey, grains, brown rice pasta and sweet potatoes all contain sugar that converts to glucose.
it's been an interesting journey just since being diagnosed. for one, i have learned that eating for two with gd is completely counter-intuitive to what all the books say.
now that i am testing my blood sugar four times a day, foods like whole grains, fresh juices, fruits, milk, yogurt and my beloved whole-grain cereal with blueberries all cause my blood sugar levels to skyrocket. just this morning i made my now usual two-egg veggie omelet but was craving fruit so bad that i had ONE SLICE of a small apple with it. i have eaten omelette's each day for breakfast since seeing the nutritionist and my blood sugar stays low but this morning that additional ONE SLICE of apple had my levels soaring to the moon, even with exercise.
prior to my diagnosis i would think nothing of guzzling three glasses of milk a day, a tall glass of fresh orange juice and blueberries and strawberries on my multi-grain cereal thinking this was perfectly acceptable, healthy even. plus it is what i craved so i thought i was listening to my body. when i spoke to a nutritionist last friday, i realized that all these things were not conducive to gd and were in fact hurting me and possibly our little one.
she gave me a diet to follow but i learned pretty quickly based on my blood levels that part of the diet doesn't work for me ~ the part that states i can still eat starches. one slice of Ezekiel bread with protein, one cup of milk, or one tiny slice of an apple with protein will cause my glucose level to skyrocket, even with exercise. i notice if i eat only a portion-controlled amount of protein and veggies, 5-6 times a day, plus exercise, i am able to keep my levels stable and right where they should be. if i were to stay on their prescribed, one-size-fits-all diet, i would probably have to start taking insulin, which is something i would rather not do if i can help it. this prescribed diet is also part of the food pyramid, which i don't agree with, and makes me have delusions about becoming a holistic nutritionist, but i digress.
it's an adjustment to be sure. i CRAVE fruit, milk and grains like quinoa and starches like sweet potatoes. but i am finding that the only things i can eat are veggie omelette's, natural nut butters, hummus, cheese, tofu, whole raw nuts, lean meats and salads galore. very french, no? well, minus the baguette, madeleine's and croissant anyway. i have been roasting chickens like a madwoman so i can have the skinless leftovers for a couple days for a shot of protein. the only carbs i am getting currently are from veggies.
i have never been one to diet. although i tend to make healthy choices with foods, i just don't have the discipline to measure portions, plus i love food too much. however, with something so precious at stake, it's a small sacrifice to make and now just seems like something i have to do, like brushing my teeth or wearing sunscreen. i find myself borderline obsessive about what goes into my body and how much, now knowing i have to answer to my blood monitor two hours after whatever goes into my mouth. i have learned it is all about portion control and eating small meals frequently. i feel her kick and missing fruit no longer becomes an issue.
walking helps tremendously. i dance after each meal for about 15 minutes (which is pretty funny to watch me do this in my living room to 80's music) and have very recently just started walking about an hour outside which is how this project is getting started, as well as engaging in some prenatal yoga stretches.
this is all very new to me ~ i still have books to read, information to soak in, and understanding what works for my particular situation. i know each person's situation is different. i have had a couple amazing women that have experienced gd reach out to me with loving support and wonderful advice about what worked for them. if this is something you have been through, i would love to hear from you too.
the good news is that if i can keep my blood levels stable, the baby will be born without any complications from gd. this is the goal. the other good news is that once she is here my gd will literally disappear within a few hours of delivery, or so i am told, even though i will still be monitored in the hospital.
because of gd however, my doctor will be inducing labor about ten days before my due date which means i should know the baby's birthday in about three weeks when i go in for my next ultrasound.
with some of the obstacles i have faced during my pregnancy, i can still honestly say that being pregnant has been nothing but a blessing and i continue to enjoy the wild ride. our little one is such a gift and i realize that i will do anything to protect her, even before she makes her grand entrance into the world.