Gestational Diabetes: Tips and Tricks for Still Eating How You Want

OK, disclaimer time: I am not a doctor, blah blah blah. Everybody’s body is different. Everybody processes sugar differently, and different types of carbs differently. My numbers are still pretty low at 31 weeks, and I know some people who cannot even look at pizza without getting blood sugar in the 300s, while I ate a few pieces and got a 136 — still not in my ideal range, but not awful. So don’t take this as the end all and be all replacement for good, sound nutritional advice such as the type you’ll get from a registered diabetes nurse upon diagnosis.

But I’m here to tell you, eating like a diabetic is not that bad.

I outlined my meal plan back here, but the only things that are different from how I normally eat are:

1. I can’t have fruit, juice, milk, yogurt or anything sugary (like most cereals) for breakfast.

2. I can’t have same as above anytime after dinner. The reasons for 1 and 2 are that insulin resistance is higher in the mornings and evenings, so this extra-sugary stuff might spike me higher at these hours than others. That being said, I’ve read diabetics recommending oatmeal with apples and shit for breakfast, and you could certainly try it, but I’m not willing to risk the high numbers because it’ll make me cry and feel like a failure.

3. I can’t have a candy bar or most anything from the Starbucks pastry case or a cheggnog (which is my favorite thing ever, but whatever) or a huge piece of cake just whenever the hell I want.

3a. 3 sort of does not apply as long as I

  • Look at how many carbs are in what I’m eating and adjust for what meal or snack I’m eating this treat for, so like if I want a bagel at 3 p.m. I can have a quarter of a bagel. Which is barely worth it and might end up spiking me anyway.

4. I have to pay attention to what I’m eating and make sure I’m getting enough of what I’m supposed to and not too much of what I’m not.

5. I have to force myself to eat more carbs than I normally would at lunch and dinner.

6. I have to force myself to have an intentional, scheduled, carefully portioned evening snack rather than just eating half a pint of Ben and Jerry’s while I catch up on reruns.

All in all, honestly not bad.

The thing is, depriving yourself and counting calories and feeling hungry while pregnant feels so unnatural. All anybody ever said to me for the first 29 weeks when I’d sheepishly order a milkshake IN ADDITION TO the full-sugar soda that came with my McDonald’s meal, or ate two doughnuts after breakfast, was, “Eat up girl! You’re pregnant!” And now all of a sudden it’s like, “We need to hide the cake from her.”

But I’m only about a week into this thang, and I’ve discovered a few tricks.

  • Whole grain anything is better than white, refined of same. If I want rice, I eat brown rice (it’s gross, but I just mix it up with whatever I’m having and it’s tolerable). I have half a whole-grain English muffin with peanut butter and a cottage cheese for breakfast. A slice of whole grain bread with butter and a scrambled egg. A whole grain pita or flatbread with my afternoon snack. I haven’t really done much testing to see if the whole-grain versus white bread changes my blood sugar, but it makes me feel better about myself and is better for me anyway, and many diabetics have reported that brown stuff keeps their sugars in check better than white stuff. Plus I can still get all carb-y without feeling like I just ate half a French bread baguette or half a cookie sheet full of Pillsbury croissants (not that I’ve ever done that).
  • A protein shake before a food splurge goes a long way. An Internet friend who also had GD gave me this trick, and so far, it really seems to work. At the very least, when I get home from work and am so starving I want to eat my dog and still need to wait through a 20 to 45-minute cooking session before eating, a protein shake will fill me up quickly without impacting my blood sugar. Protein acts as a stabilizer, so it’s good to pair with carbs. I like the Atkins Advantage shakes that have 2g of net carbs — the Dark Chocolate Royale ones are the best ever. I also tried the Strawberry Banana ones, and they’re OK, but I had the taste in my mouth all day, even after brushing, which is kinda gross. Anyway, I drank one of the chocolate ones before Thanksgiving dinner and had stuffing, cranberry sauce, broccoli casserole, and mashed potatoes, didn’t walk after, and got a 130 on my glucometer an hour later. I had one before eating a quarter of a thin-crust pizza from Domino’s that I’d miscalculated the carbs on and therefore ended up consuming TWICE the amount of carbs I was supposed to with dinner, and still only got a 136 after an hour. I don’t fully know the science behind this, and obviously 136 after dinner isn’t number I should be striving for every day (I’m supposed to be between 100 and 129 an hour later), but like I said, it’s at least great for taking the edge off hunger — much better than half a bag of pretzels and a Hershey bar.
  • If I’m still hungry, I’ll eat a protein. I get 2,000 calories a day, and I don’t always meet it, especially watching what I eat. So I have some extra stuff to burn, and honestly, I’m still not terribly concerned if I go over my calorie count. My doctor basically called me a fat pig for gaining 30 pounds in 29 weeks, but my diabetes nurse told me not to worry about counting calories, so I’m picking B. So the thing is, for the first four days of the diet, all was good because I was able to eat on a normal schedule — 8 a.m. breakfast, 10 a.m. snack, noon lunch, 2 p.m. snack, 5 p.m. dinner. Now that I’m back at work, it looks more like, 8 a.m. breakfast, 10 a.m. snack, noon lunch, 3:30 p.m. snack (IF I CAN MAKE IT THAT LONG), 7 p.m. or later dinner. So by the time I get home and start cooking dinner, I’m all whacked out on hunger, which is bizarre when carrying around a 3-pound fetus. So I’ll eat a piece of cheese at 1:30 and a hard-boiled egg around 5. Or drink one of those protein shakes. Or have a few pieces of grilled chicken.
  • And along those same lines, I bulk up on my afternoon snack. I get 2 whole carb servings along with a protein allowance for my afternoon snack, whereas for my morning and evening snacks, I only get 1 carb. So I’ve learned to take advantage of that fact and have a pretty hefty afternoon snack. Lately, I’ve been having a good handful of baby carrots, a little individual pack of cottage cheese, a piece of cheese or a hard-boiled egg, and half a whole-grain flatbread. Today I’m going to mix that up by substituting a couple of granola thins for the flatbread. It’s great because it’s got calcium, fiber, protein, and carbs, and has been keeping me going until dinnertime.

And here’s another thing: since I started this diet, I haven’t been falling asleep at my desk at work. I don’t fully understand why, because I would typically have dinner leftovers for lunch, and most of what I used to make for dinner is still in play. But then again, I haven’t yet attempted to eat angel hair and jarred pasta sauce with cheese — I’d seriously eat a tub of that for lunch just a few weeks ago. Or leftover pizza. Or fast food because I’d planned poorly and not cooked the night before or not made enough for leftovers. I’d have cereal for breakfast. I’d eat half a bag of pita chips in the mid-morning. So while it feels like I have to eat more carbs, I’m really eating fewer, and I’m not crashing anymore. I totally feel healthier and have more energy and a more positive outlook.

Am I still all worried about what the dia-beetus will do to my baby? Pssssh, yeah. I also have become beset with third-trimester anxiety. I’m afraid that my baby will be a stillborn because I found some gestational diabetes message board and all the ever chat about is risks and outcomes. But I’m also afraid my baby will be blind, which is an irrational and unrelated fear. I’m also worried when my husband is five minutes late because obviously it means he’s died in a fiery car crash. I’m just a worrier. So my last piece of advice — if you have questions about your diagnosis, meal plan, risks, tests, or anything else, ask your doctor and/or your diabetes nurse. Don’t scour Internet message boards or ask strangers on Yahoo! I promise, this suggestion is for your sanity alone.

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One thought on “Gestational Diabetes: Tips and Tricks for Still Eating How You Want

  1. […] Gestational Diabetes: Tips and Tricks for Still Eating How You Want […]

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