My Experience with Gestational Diabetes

I recently gave birth to my second child, but did not advertise my pregnancy on the blog or social media. One of the reasons is because I was having some complications, gestational diabetes being one of them. I learned a lot about gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes since my diagnosis, and while it was frustrating to manage, it was also very eye opening.

Every Pregnancy is Different

I was six years younger with my first pregnancy, so I expected some changes with this one. I didn’t expect gestational diabetes, but after talking to friends, I realized it’s a lot more common than I thought. Gestational diabetes affects women of all ages and dietary backgrounds. I was surprised to learn one of my friends, who is a health nut, developed it with one of her pregnancies.

At risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Even though I learned it is common, it was still difficult for me to accept. My parents don’t have diabetes, but one of my blood-relative uncles has it, so that means it can be traced back in our family history. I never thought of being at risk before, so now I have to be more conscious about my food decisions.

My bad food choices

Before I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the ultrasounds indicated my baby was growing small for gestational age. That didn’t surprise me, because I am small in stature and my first child was born just a little over five pounds, but my doctors were concerned. I mistakenly translated that as a golden ticket to eat whatever I wanted so the baby would grow and gain weight. Unfortunately, it the wrong mind-set, as my food choices were a bit hedonistic and regularly included pizza, hamburgers, plenty of (bad) carbs, and ginger ale. I personally think I had “too much of a good thing,” which triggered gestational diabetes.

Diet-controlled diabetes

I became frustrated when I had to consciously change my diet. I have been on diets before, but I knew this had to be a total lifestyle change because I’m also at risk for Type 2 diabetes. I did a lot of research on recipes and ways to regulate it, but what helped me the most was seeing a nutritionist and trial-and-error. It was frustrating trying to find the balance between feeling full, keeping the blood sugar numbers down, and knowing I’m providing enough nutrients for the baby. I learned that not all diabetic recipes worked for me, and that a walk after eating will do wonders. Once I found a brand of bread that I liked, or a food that didn’t make my blood sugar go crazy, I stuck with it or put it in my rotation. Needless to say, my meals got VERY BORING, but I knew I was doing what was best for the baby and me. I never thought I would get tired of avocado toast, but I did!

The constant blood-testing

Since giving birth, I haven’t tested my blood. I hope I don’t have to again, but I will find out soon enough when I get re-tested. However, as annoying as the finger-pricking was, it was very eye-opening to see how different foods affected my body. It’s such an insightful way to peek into your body’s performance, that non-diabetics are opting to test their blood sugar by choice to improve their health. There are even devices out there that don’t require a needle prick!

The Silver Lining

As annoying as it was to deal with gestational diabetes, I’m thankful that I was forced (for the sake of my child and myself) to lead a healthier lifestyle. What is good for one person may not be good for another, and that everyone reacts differently. It’s up to the individual to learn what works best for themselves.

What worked best for me

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Dave’s Killer Bread, 21 Whole Grains Thin-Sliced

I tried Ezekiel Bread, but I prefer Dave’s Killer Bread. I like the taste of this better and like how it comes thin-sliced, which gives me more portion flexibility.

Trader Joe’s Whole Grain Crispbread

I loved eating these with cheese. I would also break them up and put them in my yogurt. They are quite filling and versatile.

Whole Milk Plain Greek Yogurt

I was never particular on the brand, but I did find Chobani to be a nice consistency. Since I’m not big on drinking milk, yogurt and cheese was a good way for me to intake dairy. Buying it plain and adding fruit and maybe a little bit of honey allowed me to regulate the amount of sugar.

Hemp Hearts

I learned about hemp hearts from a friend’s friend who had diabetes. He shared a lot of tips about managing diabetes, and really sold me on the hemp hearts. I bought it and sprinkled it on everything – salads, soups, smoothies. It has a slightly nutty taste, but isn’t obtrusive.

Hippeas

I’m glad I discovered Hippeas. This was a good snack food in-between my meals. They are crunchy and not terrible for you. I liked the Bohemian Barbecue flavor the best. I would continue to eat these even without the diabetes!

In addition

In addition to the above, I ate a lot of protein and vegetables. I avoided most bad carbs, which sadly, includes rice. Even though brown rice is supposed to be better than white rice, it still spiked my blood sugar. For the most part, my plate consisted of 1/2 meat and 1/2 vegetable. I was thankful to learn I could still eat my favorite chicken sandwich from Howlin’ Rays without my blood sugar spiking! If the line didn’t take over 2 hours, I would have definitely eaten more. Also, I found a great dish at a Mexican restaurant – any meat with cactus!

In closing

As frustrating as it was to have gestational diabetes, I’m glad it helped me take better control of my diet and exercise and be better about my health in general.