I may receive a commission if you purchase something mentioned in this post. See more details here.
Many women are shocked and devastated by their gestational diabetes diagnosis.
Not me. I saw this coming. I don’t have the common risk factors of age, multiple pregnancies, or weight. But my mom had gestational diabetes and both her parents have Type 2. Even though my mom and grandma are tiny. Sometimes it just has nothing to do with weight, so I knew that this was something I would likely encounter.
I went in for my 1 hour test at 26 weeks and felt miserable for the rest of the day, as most women do. I really should have looked into alternatives to glucola more. But that’s just one of those things you learned. The drink itself actually tasted pretty good. I was not surprised to see a mild fail – 25 points over the threshold.
One week later I went back in. The women’s center recently switched to doing a 2-hour follow up instead of a 3-hour. I only had to drink 75g and get 3 blood draws. But they still took 4 vials of blood. My husband made me laugh out loud in the waiting room by texting me, “It’s a good thing I can’t get pregnant. That would kill me.” (he doesn’t do well with blood draws)
These results actually surprised me a bit. Fasting – fine. One hour – borderline. Two hour – 35 magnificent points above the threshold. My blood sugar actually went up between one and two hours. It’s suppose to go down….
So the next step was meeting with an endocrinologist, a nurse, and a dietician to go over the plan for the next 13 weeks of pregnancy. I learned to test my blood sugar 4 times a day and how to eat in order to keep my blood sugar stable throughout the day.
But I immediately saw a glaring hole in the meal plan I was given. Well, several.
First, the recommendations were high carb and low fat. A cookie and a glass of skim milk was considered a healthy snack. Now let me tell you, that would spike my blood sugar and crash me shortly after without the diabetes. I read out the meal plan to my carb-loving and very carb-tolerant husband, and all he could say was, “That sounds like a horrible idea for a diabetic.”
Next was that their method for counting carbs was just wrong. They didn’t like it when I counted the 7g of carb in a 1/2 cup of tomato sauce as half a serving (they thought it should be 0), but they told me to count my 1/2 cup of peas with 9g as a full serving. #becausemath
But the biggest problem? They just straight up ignored my personal needs. They gave me the same dietary recommendations they give every other pregnant woman. Well let me tell you, I’m not every other pregnant woman. I’m 5’2″. At 7 months pregnant, I had gained 25 pounds and still only weighed 140. I ate my fill, 6 times a day, and I was never hungry. But I didn’t eat their carb recomendations. I put together meals with a balance of meat, starch, vegetable, and fat that would keep my blood sugar steady and keep my belly full. And yet, my nurse kept telling me I was starving my baby of nutrients. Any mother should know how painful that was to hear, whether it’s true or not. And they came to that conclusion simply because I wasn’t eating the same number of carbohydrates that they recommend to women who weigh 50+ pounds more than me.
But then in the same breath they would tell me I am providing too much sugar to my baby if my blood sugar was elevated. So…..I’m either starving my baby or overfeeding my baby and making him sick? There’s no room for a middle ground there?
I was angry and frustrated. I knew that I could control this thing with diet. That I could avoid the medication that would move me into the high-risk category and require me to transfer out of my midwife’s care. If my baby needed that medication, I would take it in a heartbeat. But not until I knew that I could not control it with a healthy diet.
Thankfully, I was able to find what seems to be the only resource on the internet that breaks away from the high carb model of treating gestational diabetes: Real Food for Gestational Diabetes. This book was a godsend. While the concept of eating real food was not new to me, and I was confident that I could drop my carb intake below the 150g minimum they gave me and still have a healthy baby, this book provided the research and comfort that allowed me to take that step with no reservations.
I’m not eating paleo or GAPS. I’m not even eating gluten-free. I still have treats at times. I’m definitely not eating low carb – I still get around 120g most days, less if I know that I won’t be able to exercise. But now I worry more about my blood sugar and my baby’s health, not what the dietician will think of my food log. I gained the strength to say, “I’m not hungry. I’m a small person. I feel good,” until finally someone listened. I get lots of meat and vegetables, instead of stuffing myself with pasta and bread just to meet a carb goal. I walk a lot to continue to help my blood sugars, which is great for baby’s and my health regardless.
Over the next few months of my pregnancy and postpartum, I will continue to share my experiences with gestational diabetes and some of my favorite meals. Follow me on Instagram for more regular updates.
Please note that all women are different, and none of what I write is a blanket recommendation for all women with gestational diabetes. I am simply sharing what worked for me in an effort to help you find health for yourself and your baby. Please consult with your doctor, midwife, or dietician if you have any questions or concerns.
Like what you see? Please support this blog and help me keep it running by signing up for my newsletter, purchasing products, or donating through the links below:
DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. The information contained in this post is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. For more information, click here.