Being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes can be disappointing, I know. Diabetes runs in my family, plus I’m “older”, so I knew I was a little more at risk for it. Even so, I was pretty upset when I found out I had Gestational Diabetes. I had tried really hard to take care of myself (and baby), I kind of felt like a failure.
The thing is it happens. Older moms, younger moms, skinny moms, not-so-skinny moms (I struggled with this, thinking if I were just a few pounds lighter it wouldn’t have happened), family history, no family history. It can happen to any pregnant lady. Yes, your risk factors can go up based on these things but it can still happen to anyone.
It’s, yet again, hormonal.
Once I got over my initial disappointment, I jumped right into researching GD. My provider requires a class with a dietician and other GD moms which I found very helpful. Even more than the dietary part (because, honestly, I had to make a lot of adjustments to that), it was helpful to be amongst other moms going through the same thing.
Here are some tips I’ve learned to help me manage my blood sugar. Please note: I am not a medical professional. I have, however, discussed all tweaks/additions to the initial recommended diet with either my perinatal nurse or my doctor. My advice is to maintain open communication with your provider!
- Cut down on fruit! This has probably been the most challenging part for me. I LOVE fruit. Prior to being diagnosed with GD I probably ate 5-7 cuties a day. Plus, other fruit. I now have two servings a day. Either with lunch/dinner or as a snack (but I always pair it with a protein). I do not eat fruit in the morning because, due to hormones, blood sugar levels tend to be more elevated in the mornings.
- Always include protein, starch and veggies in meals. My initial diet (based on dietician recommendation) consisted of protein, 2 starches, veggies, milk/yogurt and fruit. That turned out to be way too much for my 4’9″ frame. When I initially discussed making changes to the diet with my nurse, she expressed that the reason they want you to eat all of that is to make sure the baby is not being deprived of calories. We went over my diet and she eventually agreed that I should make some changes. Pregnant or not, my body does not require the same amount of calories as someone a foot taller than me! All that to say, it’s important that you’re getting the right amount of calories for your body. For the regulation of your blood sugar it’s important that you are getting both starch and protein (more protein than starch). As tempting as it may be, don’t cut carbs!
- Eat every two to three hours. You want to avoid crashes in your blood sugar. Eating regularly throughout the day will help with this.
- Snack on “free foods”. If you’re anything like me, you are likely hungry a lot. I mean, our bodies are working pretty hard…. you know, growing humans! I have learned to keep “free snacks” handy at all times. What’s a free snack? Mostly non-starchy veggies. Cucumbers are my go to. You’ll want to stay away from snacking on carrots. Eating them at meals is fine but they are not a “free snack”.
- Always pack almonds. I could have lumped almonds with the “free snacks” but they have been so instrumental in regulating my blood sugar that I thought they were deserving of their own bullet point. One day I was researching ways to bring blood sugar down quickly (don’t ask!) and I came across almonds. Now, I literally have almonds on my person at all times. They are a great source of protein and they really help to regulate blood sugar. These are a great snack when you’re feeling hungry or even after a meal to help with blood sugar levels. Sometimes I pop a few in my mouth after a meal, just to give my body a little push.
- Drink Green Tea. I drink green tea in between meals. Like almonds, it’s a great source in regulating blood sugar and also has pretty immediate results. I have both decaf and regular, as I try to keep my caffeine intake well under 200mg.
- Be active! Being active in general is important in pregnancy (and life) but having some activity after/in between meals will help your blood sugar. I was told to walk but that really didn’t do much for my blood sugar (though, I probably should still do it!). Something that works great for me is using the exercise ball. I bounce after every meal and pretty much throughout the day. I also do other exercises on the ball, like pelvic tilts, in preparation for labor. My nurse told me that even doing house work will help.
These are just some of the things that have really helped me to maintain healthy blood sugar numbers. I hope they help you!