As I shared in this post, after drinking the “nasty koolaid” for the 1 and 3 hour glucose test I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes at 11 weeks. So for the past 8 weeks I have been following a carb conscious diet as outlined by a dietician. I get quite a few questions about my gestational diabetes so today I am answering some of those questions and sharing some gestational diabetes meal ideas.
When I failed my first one hour test I (of course!) jumped on the internet to do some research on gestational diabetes. I found tons of scholarly articles and posts from medical sites about gestational diabetes, but not very many personal stories. So here is my personal take on gestational diabetes from 11-19 weeks.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. How did you know you had gestational diabetes so early?
I have a family history of type 2 diabetes so with each of my pregnancies (this is my third) I have been tested in the first trimester as well as at the normal time between 24-28 weeks.
2. Did you have it with your other pregnancies?
No, this is the first time I have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Because this pregnancy is so close to my last one (I became pregnant when my son was 8 months old) I had not lost
all much at all of the weight I gained with my son, so that, along with a family history of diabetes put me at a greater risk of gestational diabetes. Also, although I have no way to go back and confirm this I am suspicious that I developed high blood sugar at the end of my last pregnancy. I was incredibly swollen and also developed preeclampsia and my son was a high birth weight and had low blood sugar at birth–all symptoms of gestational diabetes. I’ll never know for sure, and hindsight is 20-20, but there are definitely signs pointing to it.
3. What is the diet like?
After being diagnosed with gestational diabetes you will meet with a nutritionist and nurse to learn your diet and get a blood sugar testing kit. Your dietician will develop a calorie and carbohydrate level for you to reach every meal. This is incredibly personalized and you shouldn’t try to self-prescribe yourself this diet.
For me, my main meals I have a target of 45-60 net carbs (carbohydrates minus fiber) and 15-30 carbs per snack (2-3 snacks per day). My target calorie level is 2200-2300. I am also not supposed to be eating refined, white carbs, sweets (cookies, cakes, doughnuts, candy, etc.), and foods that are fatty carbs (french fries, potato chips, pizza).
I say supposed to because there is a little bit of wiggle room that you figure out as you spend weeks monitoring your blood sugar levels 4 times a day (2 hours after every meal). So for me, I’ve been able to indulge in like, maybe 3 m&ms without any significant change. After NOT having any sweets 3 pieces of candy are so delicious! I talked to my midwife about this as well because honestly a bit of the joy has been sucked out of eating with this plan. She encouraged me to have two bites of anything I was really craving. It wouldn’t strongly affect my sugars and will give me a taste without feeling (too) deprived.
I also have ate pizza because it’s my favorite thing ever. We just get thin crust (less carbs) and all veggie for me (less fat) and I only eat 2 pieces. If I eat more I know I have to get outside and walk to counteract the effect of the pizza on my blood sugar. Walking helps lower blood sugar so if you eat outside the diet you can do some brisk walking to help make up for it (although you can’t abuse this!!).
I’ll share more about my favorite meal and snack choices on the “gestational diabetes diet” in a later post, but I’ll tell you now that I am loving Greek yogurt topped with fruit, nuts, and a Tablespoon of granola!
5. Is it hard?
It is. I’d love to sugarcoat (ha!) it for you, but yes, it is hard. It’s not fun to crave a doughnut and know it will be months before you can safely eat one. It is hard to pass up pie or brownies or a pile of french fries or a big plate of lasagna. It’s hard to poke your fingers with a needle 4 times a day. It’s hard some days to load my 3 year old and 11 month old up in the stroller for a walk around the neighborhood. It’s not easy.
But it’s not difficult. It’s not heart-breaking. It’s not distressing.
Watching my newborn have a blood draw over and over again, that was heartbreaking. Being miserable and swollen the last 3 weeks of my pregnancy was pretty awful too. I don’t want to repeat either of those things so I focus on the end result when I really want to sit down and eat a brownie sundae. (And that’s PRETTY often; I literally have been dreaming about eating carbs lately.)
So that’s how things have been going with gestational diabetes part of pregnancy so far! So far I haven’t had any more checks on me or the baby, but I know that will change as the pregnancy progresses.
If you have any other questions please let me know! I’m happy to share my limited experience and I’m grateful to friends who’ve let me pick their brains!