Pregnancy with Gestational Diabetes: The GD Diet, the Insulin Journey and more...
I was really blessed with my 1st pregnancy, it was a “text book” pregnancy as they call it, no major nausea or issues, I felt pretty good the whole time and I even worked up until the morning I went into labor, which was 6 days passed my due date. When we got #pregnant with our 2nd, people told me it would be tougher this time around, you’re a little bit older, you already have one child to run after so I anticipated it being a bit more difficult but little did I know how tough it would get.
My first trimester went smoothly, I got to about 26-28 weeks which is when you have to do the glucose test to check for #GestationalDiabetes. The test requires you to fast, get your blood checked, then immediately after, you drink a very sugary drink, wait 1 hour and repeat the blood work, and then wait another hour and do a 3rd blood test. I assumed all would be normal and wasn’t worried at all. When the doctor called me in to tell me 1 of the 3 tests came back out of range and I had GD (gestational diabetes) I was in denial, I thought there was no way I could have it, I barely eat any sweets, I eat pretty healthy, exercise regularly, I just didn't believe I had it. I even asked if I could re-test but they said I had to follow the process, start the Gestational Diabetes program and from there they would assess the severity and next steps, but I would have to continue in the program for the remainder of the #pregnancy. I was really bummed out but thought for sure within a week or two of the program they would see that I don't have any blood sugar issues.
For those who may not know, GD occurs during pregnancy and is a glucose (carbohydrate) intolerance affecting 10-14% of women. The food we eat turns into sugar with the help of the pancreas that produces a hormone called insulin that allows the sugar to be used by the body. When you have GD your body has a difficult time using the insulin and as the pregnancy advances the insulin doesn't work as effectively. This causes extra blood sugar your body and it goes through the placenta, giving the baby high blood glucose levels. This causes the baby's pancreas to make extra insulin to get rid of the blood glucose. Since the baby is getting more energy than it needs to grow and develop, the extra energy is stored as fat which is unhealthy.
Factors such as stress, diet, exercise can affect your blood sugar but sometimes even by managing all 3 your body may need to supplement with extra insulin.
Anyways, I started the program which required me to be on a very strict new diet composed of 6 small meals a day: high protein, low carb and the 2 most important things were to have a really small breakfast as soon as I wake up and to have a high protein bed time snack just before bed. There was a carb, protein and fat restriction for every meal that I had to follow. The biggest thing to watch for with GD is your #carbohydrate intake.
The 2nd element to the program was I now had to start checking my blood 4 times a day with a Accu-Check Guide Blood Glucose Meter. You basically have to prick your finger an hour after each meal and see what your blood sugar level is. It was definitely overwhelming and stressful but I began this new journey. They wanted me to test my blood for 2 weeks with the new diet and then have a specialist review my results. After 2 weeks they saw a pattern that my #fastingnumber which is your blood sugar level when you first wake up was too high. I worked with the GD dietician to adjust elements of the diet and exercise but still had no luck in bringing this number down no matter what I did. Based on this, they diagnosed me with Type 2 Gestational Diabetes which meant I would have to start taking #insulin.
I was so devasted and disappointed in myself. I felt like I had failed my baby and that my body wasn't working properly. I felt sad, mad, frustrated, shocked. I went from thinking I didn't have GD, to now having to start medication for it. I don't even take Advil or Tylenol when I need, I try to do things as naturally as possible so for me this was really difficult to process and accept.
We had to decide what form of insulin we wanted to take, the options were #Metformin which was an oral form of insulin or the hormone insulin which is injected with a needle. We did our research, met with doctors and learned that injecting insulin was the most natural way to go, so that's what we went with. This meant I would have to start injecting myself in the stomach every single night for the rest of the pregnancy. I absolutely hate needles but of course was willing to do whatever it takes to keep the baby's growth on track.
I started injecting 8 units a night and had to keep increasing weekly as the baby grew. I'm now at the end of the pregnancy and injecting 36 units.
Throughout the process I made other major adjustments to my life, I started routinely walking for 10-15 minutes after every single meal. I stuck to very strict timings for my meals. I even started my maternity leave a few weeks earlier in efforts to reduce my stress levels. Stress affects blood sugars significantly, it was amazing to see my numbers come down a bit within a few days of eliminating this stress.
The most demanding part of GD is the diet, so I wanted to share some #diet tips for anyone interested. It was a lot of trial and error with meals and snacks and took a while to get into a rhythm, the main thing you are looking for when reading labels with GD is your Carb Content.
Here are some #gestationaldiabetesdiet tips that worked for me, I hope it helps you too:
Eggs and toast with butter or avacado - I pretty much ate this every morning. For your 1st meal of the day you need a protein, fat and carb but its recommended to not have any dairy or fruit in the morning so this was an easy meal for me.
My go to bread was OroWheat Double Fiber Bread
Cheese sticks! I've had so many cheese sticks in the last few months! Anytime I would leave the house I would grab one.
Salsa was actually considered a "free food" (anything 5g of Carb and under is a free food), if you read the labels the ones made fresh don't have added sugar and they are a great snack option with a healthy tortilla chip.
Triscuits or whole wheat Melba Toast
Cottage cheese - I had never had cottage cheese before but I tried it and it wasn't so bad. I would do #Tricuits or #MelbaToast with cottage cheese, black olives sliced on top with salt and pepper! Made for a great snack.
Peanut Butter is hit or miss for people with GD, some people said it was their go to bed time snack. It didn't work as a my bedtime snack, it always resulted in high fasting numbers but I did have it at some point during the day either on bread or melba toast.
Eggplant Hummus and the Breakfast Meatless patties from #TraderJoes was a free food
Almonds - My purse always has a ziploc of almonds!
Plain Greek Yogurt with berries and nuts
Edamame pasta with mushrooms and minced meat with a tomato sauce
Cauliflower rice with a protein (chicken or minced meat) and veggie stir fry
Fish tacos - I found a corn tortilla that was in the carb limit and would did fish tacos once a week
Turkey Chili - just limit the amount of beans and corn since they are a starchy vegetable
Salads with lots of protein - I made these 2 salads almost weekly:
Taco Salad (Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Black Bean, Corn, Minced Turkey Meat with some Salsa and a sprinkle of tortilla strips) OR Cobb Salad
Bed Time snack
This was the most challenging because you needed 2 proteins (14 g), 1 Carb (15 g) and 1 fat (5g). I just couldn't get used to having so much protein right before bed. I tried turkey meat, egg, cheese stick but I was eating so much of this during the day so that was the last thing I wanted to eat at night. I was so exhausted by this time of the day that I didn't have the energy to come up with yet another meal but I knew this was one of the most important ones because it would keep my body running through the night. The game changer for me was when I started taking a protein shake and a handful of almonds as my bed time snack. I highly recommend the #PremierProtein from #Costco, it has 30gm of protein and just 1g of sugar and 5g of carbs! It was so easy, I would have my shake, wait 20 minutes and then inject insulin. It made my life much easier.
Anyways I wrote all this because I struggled with GD, the emotions, the hormones, the diet, starting the insulin and when I shared some of this on my Instagram (instagram.com/reshmaphotography) so many people reached out to offer their advice and what worked for them so I just wanted to put this out there in hopes it will help someone else going through it.
So if you have Gestational Diabetes, whether its type 1 or 2, whether you're able to control it through diet or need to take insulin, just know that you're not doing anything wrong and you will get it figured out!
Okay, that's all for now, here goes my last few days pregnant, until she comes I'm gonna soak in every minute with my first baby whose world is about to change very soon....