On Monday I had my meeting with the nutritional counselor and received my very own blood sugar testing kit for gestational diabetes. I’m weird and have absolutely no problem with needles (I haven’t always been this way, I remember the fits I threw over shots as a kid, but one day I just realized it’s gonna happen no sense in fighting it and now it doesn’t bother me at all) so I don’t mind sticking myself 4, 5 or even 6 times a day. I’m only supposed to do it four but I’ve been experimenting with my numbers, trying to figure it all out.
The nutritional counselling was good but considering I already knew everything she was preparing to tell me it was a little unnecessary. She was shocked and pleased with how much I knew and glad she didn’t have to completely reeducate me in terms of my diet. In case you’re wondering here’s some things you should know if you don’t already:
1) Stop eating white processed anything.
Right now. It’s seriously the worst. Clean out your pantry of all white bread, flour, tortillas, crackers, oatmeal, etc. Sugar belongs on that list too but I still have it in my house and although I use it sparingly now and I won’t be a hypocrite. Be like us and start experimenting with natural sweeteners. Just stop buying the white stuff! It’s all crap and has no nutritional value. Buy only 100% whole wheat, multi-grain or sprouted bread products, or make your own there’s tons of recipes for anything you can want out there. If you need to have white flour at least buy unbleached.
2) Read the ingredients in a product, not the calorie counts (although with GD it’s essential to read carb counts).
Seriously. Stop eating crap that your body doesn’t need or know what to do with. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, look it up. It’s just as important to remember that not all the scary words on the back of a package are actually bad for you. After you know what it is if it doesn’t sound like something you would want in your body then do not eat it. There are always healthier or alternative options unless you’re on a seriously tight budget. In which case, we go without.
3) Throw greens in to everything you can.
Scrambled eggs, frittatas and omelets get a nice dose of spinach, asparagus, peppers, etc. Toss in some different vegs to spice up your boring salad like raw broccoli, asparagus, peppers, and my personal fave, black olives. Spaghetti sauce gets a cup of shredded carrots and celery – first off, you can’t taste them and if cook it long enough or puree it for pizzas and you can’t even see them. Green smoothies are a godsend. Best part about greens for a GD? They’re only 3-5 carbs/ 1/2 cup serving and are full of fiber which helps combat sugar spikes.
4) Stay away from food dyes and artificial flavors.
Battles against food dyes like yellow-5, red-40 and blue-1 have recently been in the news, most notably my girl Food Babe’s war with Kraft Mac&Cheese. Here’s a fair and informative article all about the risks and history of the colors in our food. The same goes for flavoring. Beaver butt anyone? Know what tastes like vanilla? Vanilla. It’s a plant, you can buy it and make your own extract to flavor anything you want! Stop eating anything shouldn’t be the color or flavor it is. Radioactive yellow mac & cheese, most kids’ cereals, candy and more. Buy plain yogurt and add your own extracts or fruit for flavoring.
5) Be aware of where your food comes from.
Namely meat and dairy. Although many out there are anti cow’s milk for a number of reasons, I have never drank it as I just hate it. It stems from years of milk sensitivity upsetting my stomach as a kid. Don’t be like me and give up all milk entirely until your late 20s, just stop drinking flavored milk-like products and educate yourself on the treatment of our milk cows. I drink plain almond milk (the ones without carageenan, so again, read your ingredients). It’s yummier than regular milk and it has double the calcium, less fat and no worrying about additives or inhumane treatment or factory farming of almonds (at least not that I know of). Plus it has less carbs than all other milks! Meat is a whole different topic we will get in to some other time.
6) Eat small meals 5-6/day.
Any pregnant woman or diabetic has heard about this but I’ve been doing it since childhood and find it really works best for maintaining energy and appetite. Remember snack time when you were a kid? We had them at 10am, 3pm and 7pm in our house.I follow a similar schedule now but instead of the kid snack foods we had growing up, I have things like a piece of fruit, small portions of leftovers, cheese and crackers, steamed veggies, etc. in between my meals (which are rarely huge or complex but always complete). Dinner is usually a bigger deal because we love to cook together but I eat some and leave myself enough for lunch/snack tomorrow. It’s probably a by-product of being a child care provider. My eating schedule has always followed that of a pre-schooler!
I have to say this is one thing I love about the internet. Because of all of these things we have learned over the years we eat so much more healthily than we did when we first met. Back then we would have mac and cheese, fast food or take-out every night. My eating habits sucked growing up and not for my parents’ lack of trying. I was stubborn and afraid new foods would hurt me or make me throw up if I didn’t like the taste. I seriously cannot believe that at one point in my life I actually survived on chicken fingers, french fries and pizza and that I didn’t try a salad until I was 20. It’s a wonder I wasn’t diabetic the whole time. I am so thankful for everything I know now and my ability to make healthy choices every day. I truly feel better and it’s been a blessing with this gestational diabetes diet experience. My diet is essentially a gestational diabetes diet so I already had a head start! Speaking of that…
My blood sugars have been pretty much stable since I started counting carbs and testing. I’ve gone above my target count twice but both times it was my fault for simply not caring/giving in to a craving (come on, my birthday was Saturday. We have cake. Lots and lots of cake). Even my fasting numbers are fine. The best part? It’s required little to no sacrifice on my part because it’s what I already did! I have noticed that I tend to have higher numbers at night, usually after I’ve had a decent dinner and a not-so-healthy desert. So in my non-physician opinion I do have gestational diabetes but am able to control it. I’ve also started exercising again after higher-carb meals and snacks. I’ve done yoga the whole pregnancy and was walking until it started to hurt a few weeks ago. Now I do some lifting, stretching, squats and a little light running in place and so far it’s dropped my 2 hour level after a 50 carb meal to below 100 twice.
I’m not going to act like this is any fun. I think one of the best parts about being pregnant, especially with twins, was being able to justify crazy cravings and eat pretty much whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. But alas, all good things must come to an end and it’s probably better that I get on a healthier track before the girls get here anyway. I’m not going hungry, I have a bit more energy and I know I’m doing what’s best for the girls. Makes all those finger pricks worth while!
This post is an excerpt from Life And Love Multiplied by Maigen Beaulieu
Maigen Beaulieu is a former child care provider turned writer and Mom of 2 year old identical twin girls, Juliette and Vivienne. She lives in upstate NY with her husband, the twinsters and their two cats, Boots and WIllow. When she’s not wrangling the twins or writing she can be found drinking wine and researching her family history. She can be reached via her blog Life and Love Multiplied, on Facebook and Instagram (@beau_leo_twins).