I had Gestational Diabetes.
That dreaded glucose tolerance test. Even my doctor tensed up when she mentioned the test while discussing the timeline of my pregnancy. Actually physically tensed up – almost like she thought I was about to hurl a book at her head and start throwing a tantrum. For some reason, every pregnant mama is completely terrified of gestational diabetes. And, if you got to this blog post because you, too, are freaking out, I’m here to tell you: take a deep breath – and stop Googling – this is totally manageable and I’ll tell you how.
Focus on nutrition.
After I got the call from my doctor, not only did she suggest I keep track of my blood sugar by checking it four times daily, but also to visit the Certified Nutritionist at their office. My doctor was pretty confident that I could keep my gestational diabetes in control with diet and exercise alone, which was very encouraging; however, I had to make some serious changes for that to happen. Like replacing my usual breakfast of Pop-Tarts and Cap’n Crunch with eggs and veggies.
What I ate.
I remember reading tons of blogs, articles, and even Instagram posts for meal ideas before I ever saw my nutritionist. Yes, I’m that girl, always Googling. I can’t even tell you how many YouTube birth vlogs I watched the week before I was induced. I like to be prepared. So, by the time I was actually sitting in her office, surrounded by plastic play food, I already had a pretty good grasp on the foods I should be incorporating into my diet. We talked about what I was currently eating, and she gave me tips on what to incorporate and how certain foods and especially portion sizes affected my blood sugar.
Here’s an example of a full day of eating for me and my blood sugar readings after each meal.
Fasted: 89 mg/dL
Breakfast: whole wheat toast (1 slice), peanut butter (1/2 serving), hard boiled egg
2 Hours Post Breakfast: 90 mg/dL
Snack: apple, light string cheese
Lunch: turkey, swiss cheese, whole wheat bread, yellow mustard, small apple
2 Hours Post Lunch: 95 mg/dL
Snack: greek yogurt, animal crackers
Dinner: grilled chicken breast, steamed broccoli, grilled red potatoes
2 Hours Post Dinner: 92 mg/dL
Snack: apple, chocolate PB2, light string cheese
(My doctor wanted me to be under 95 mg/dL fasting and under 120 mg/dL two hours post meals.)
The biggest tip she gave me was: balance. You don’t need to completely cut out carbs or sugar – yay, bread! – but, you need to have balance! Instead of sitting down with a whole bagel, some Cap’n Crunch and some fruit, have half a whole wheat bagel, some turkey bacon or eggs and fruit. If you incorporate some protein with your carbs it will actually slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream, which will keep your readings in check and will prevent that mid-morning/mid-afternoon sugar crash.
Another tip? Snack, snack, snack. This one was easy for me because I really couldn’t eat a bunch at each meal, so I found that 6 small meals each day was the best for me. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. I basically just snacked all day long – who can hate that? Since huge portion sizes are another thing that would affect my blood sugar reading, having small meals kept me full, but also made sure I wasn’t eating too much.
And, I’m just going to leave this one here: water. Drink it, and drink a lot of it. I know you’re pregnant and you’ve got a tiny human using your bladder as a trampoline, but water is so important and it’s worth all of those extra trips to the bathroom!
Write it down.
As a suggestion from my doctor, I began keeping a food journal and kept track of all of my blood sugar readings after each meal. It was so helpful to see how my meals affected my readings and I could take that information and adjust if I had a high reading. Most of the time when I had a high reading there was a clear explanation in my food journal – like, I had a HUGE meal, or I had a carb-heavy meal, or ate fast food.
Yes, I know, you’re pregnant and huge and the last thing you want to do is get any kind of exercise. I was pregnant the entire summer and just walking from my car to the door to my work building while it was 100 degrees with 80% humidity was like running a marathon. So, I get it. I was committed to controlling my gestational diabetes with diet alone, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore exercise. And, I’m not saying go out and enroll in a CrossFit class. Just take a nice, peaceful evening walk! Or, if you have a wiener dog: a
nice, peaceful noisy walk. Zach and I would make it a point to get in a walk around the neighborhood at least a couple times a week. And, when I got that walk in, my fasting blood sugar reading reflected it.
By the end of my pregnancy, I had successfully kept my Gestational Diabetes in check with diet and exercise alone, and gave birth to a healthy, yet big (9lbs 1oz), baby boy!