My second pregnancy, five years later, was not so perfect.
About halfway through I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Surprise!
This came entirely out of left field for me, with no risk factors and no family history. And suddenly it was: doctor becomes patient.
Of course, I had a family physician’s knowledge of gestational diabetes. Which was decent, enough, from a medical point of view. But not nearly detailed enough for a living-it-day-to-day point of view. I suddenly found myself on a very steep learning curve, learning about gestational diabetes from the inside.
And it was fascinating.
I was referred to the diabetes education center and a dietitian who specialized in gestational diabetes. I picked her brain something fierce, in my quest for more info.
I made rapid changes to my diet. (And this is the thing about gestational diabetes, you have to figure it out and make the changes fast. You’ve only got a few weeks to get it right. But the motivation is great: it’s for your unborn baby!) And I gotta say, I have never felt so healthy and energetic. I was eating a lot of food: frequent meals and snacks. I never felt hungry. I felt way less bloated than I had been feeling earlier in my pregnancy. And, get this: although I was pregnant, I started losing a little weight! Which is not exactly what I wanted to do, in pregnancy, but it made me think about the effect this diet was having on my metabolism.
The most interesting thing was monitoring my blood sugar. I got immediate feedback about how healthy my food choices were, every time I had a meal.
So here were the things I did:
I ate smaller meals, and included snacks between meals and at bedtime. This is how you keep a nice even blood sugar level throughout the day. I did everything I could to not skip meals or snacks, because I found that if I was really late for a meal, after I eventually ate my blood sugar went crazy high.
I tried to include protein with most meals and snacks.
I became a Glycemic Index guru, and swapped all my high-GI carbs for low-GI carbs.
I avoided excess sugar. I cut out juice and pop and other forms of liquid sugar.
I (somewhat reluctantly) used Splenda in my coffee.
I ate lots of fiber-rich foods and lots of veggies.
I kept a detailed food diary (including my blood sugar recordings).
And…wait for it…
I cheated sometimes! Which is okay!! Cheating is normal, human, and helps stave off feelings of resentment and deprivation. As long as you don’t beat yourself up, and you get right back on that horse (and as long as you don’t cheat too often)…I say no problemo.