Nearly 10% of pregnancies are diagnosed with gestational diabetes. A few months into my pregnancy, I got the dreadful news that I was diagnosed with diabetes. I cried inconsolably after hanging up. How could this happen? Is my baby going to be okay? Why me? After some pep talks with family and friends, I realized that it wasn’t the end of the world and my situation wasn’t all that bad. So I decided to take a proactive approach and do everything that I could do to manage my gestational diabetes for the sake of myself and my baby. In this article, I will discuss how to control gestational diabetes with food.
My OB referred me to a perinatologist (an OB that specializes in high-risk pregnancies). During my first visit, I met with the registered dietician nutritionist (RDN) and this is where I almost LOST IT.
The RDN was a very nice woman; however, I could not come to fathom the diet she wanted me to follow. More concerning to me was that this diet was supported by the American Diabetes Association. Never in my life had I ever questioned healthcare professionals or dietary standards put out. In my opinion, this suggested diet will push you to the point where you NEED insulin or medicine to manage gestational diabetes. Below is the American Diabetes Association’s list of “Diabetes Superfoods”:
Lets Talk Carbs
The body breaks down and converts carbohydrates (such as whole grains, beans, and fruit) into glucose, resulting in a rise in blood sugar levels. Yet, I was being advised to eat carbohydrates as part of a “healthy” and “balanced” diet. SAY WHAT? This made ZERO sense to me.
I felt as if the healthcare industry wanted to make the sick, sicker. By putting people on this diet, blood sugar levels spike to uncontrollable levels, resulting in a need of medicine for diabetes management. But what is their motive? Well my sweet friends, money talks. In 2012, the global diabetes market yielded $28.1 billion in sales, with $16.4 billion in the U.S. With the predicted increase in disease prevalence, global sales are expected to grow to $67.7 billion in 2022, with $38.8 billion in the U.S.
I managed my gestational diabetes with my food. I only drank water, coffee, and unsweetened tea. Notice how I did not mention any juice or soda. Next I cut out carbohydrates such as bread, rice, crackers, cereals, and basically anything processed. It didn’t matter if they were “whole wheat”, “whole grain”, or whatever. I cut them out plain and simple. The only carbohydrates I was consuming were non-starchy vegetables.
My diet consisted of healthy fats, low glycemic fruits, non-starchy vegetables, and protein. I included some examples below of what I ate:
- Almond butter
- MCT oil
- Coconut Oil
- Olive Oil
- Avocado Oil
Low Glycemic Fruits
- Brussel Sprouts
- Fish (in moderation)
Blood Glucose Readings
I measured my blood sugar four times everyday:
- Immediately after waking up (fasting)
- 1-hour after breakfast
- 1-hour after lunch
- 1-hour after dinner
These are the American Diabetes Association’s recommended readings:
All my readings 1-hour after meals were spectacular – usually under 100 mg/dl (the recommended limit is 140 mg/dl). My fasting readings in the mornings were usually between 90 mg/dl and 99 mg/dl. So at times these readings exceeded the recommended 95 mg/dl or less.
For this reason, the perinatologist recommended that I take 10 units of a slow-acting insulin before bed. I was hesitant because my fasting readings weren’t too far from the spectrum. However, after some research, I learned that one’s fasting blood sugar is difficult to manage with diet and that it was pretty much out of my control. I decided to administer the low dose of insulin each night before bed out of precaution. Also, I drank 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (diluted in water) before bed.
I was able to manage my diabetes with my diet and limit the insulin at night. When the time came, I delivered my baby naturally. He was just under 7lbs and was as healthy as can be (click here for birth story).
You got this
If you were recently diagnosed with gestational diabetes, don’t beat yourself up. Take a proactive approach and see the glass half full (instead of half empty). In my case, as a “high-risk” patient, I was required have more frequent ultrasounds. This meant that I got to see my little bun in the oven more often! Also, because I was eating clean, I gained less than 35lbs and never experienced any inflammation during pregnancy. Do your research and go about managing your gestational diabetes how you see fit. I recommend reading this article of 9 Gestational Diabetes Myths by Lily Nichols, she’s got fantastic content on how to control gestational diabetes with food and diet modifications.