Thursday, August 23, 2012

A New Diet Challenge: Gestational Diabetes

Forgive me for not posting much lately. Over the last 3 weeks I've been busy with sooo many doctor appointments and adjusting to new dietary restrictions. I had a few posts lined up about things I made/ate, and meanwhile I was trying to figure out a whole new eating plan. I felt somehow hypocritical, or un-genuine, posting meals which I can no longer eat.

It all started when I went for my 28 weeks check-up and 4 hour pregnancy "3rd Trimester" class with a glucose screening test. As I reeled from the 50g glucose drink, gave up some blood, and sat through nurse-grandma advice and stories, I had little worry about passing the test. They had told us to eat breakfast as normal, which for me was yogurt, berries and granola. The next day I got a call saying I had "abnormal" results on the test. "How abnormal, like how high exactly was my sugar?" was my immediate Type-A, I think I'm in control of everything, response. I had failed by 7 points. To me, this sounds not so bad. To me, this sounds like I had too many sweets for breakfast, and should have opted for eggs.

Okay, so I might have a little problem. A couple days later I fasted and had my 3-hour glucose tolerance test with the 100g glucose syrup and 4 blood drawings. I felt dizzy and nauseous for all 3 hours. I couldn't even focus on my book, the words swam on the pages, as I sat in the hot un-airconditioned closet that is the blood lab. Figures, 10 minutes before I was done, the tech was like "oh, is it hot in here? let me turn on the AC." after I had complained from the beginning. Are you kidding me?

Alas, the next day I got another call saying I had abnormal results. I would have to follow up with an endocrinologist for my now diagnosed gestational diabetes. My glucose had gone up, not too too high, but never came back down. That explains why the baby flipped 72 times in my belly while I felt like crap for hours. Clearly there's something wrong with me.

My Type-A, I think I'm in control of everything, plan was to start eating healthier immediately. Or at least keep track of what I am eating, so I could show that dietician right from the get-go that I am sticking to everything they tell you to eat in pregnancy: high-protein dairy, plenty of fruits and vegetables, proteins like beans and salmon, and lots of whole grains.

Well show her I did, and she showed me right back - this is not how you can eat if you have gestational diabetes. In fact, my high-fiber cereal with berries and milk, or greek yogurt with fruit and granola, was just carb + carb + carb, day after day. My frequent fruits, abundant whole grains, and vegetarian friendly beans were all high in carbs and I would have to replace some of them with meat, eggs and cheese. "But I eat mostly vegetarian," I told her, "I can't eat meat every day!" She scowled, because it's tough to stick to the low-carb 30g meal / 15g snack diet eating vegetarian. I was left to figure it out on my own, or starve.

**Here's a nice little chart I found for carb counting**

So I headed home with a list of foods and their carb contents, with one whole column on my personal list crossed out - off limits. No burritos, no tacos, no enchiladas, no pizza, no bean chili, no cake, no cookies, no brownies, no granola bars, no ice cream, no lowfat yogurt with fruit. I've lived many years without a craving for real sweets, but take away all my vegetarian-friendly meals, emergency granola bars I keep in my purse, and yogurt and ice cream? Oh and by the way, you can hardly eat a 1/3 cup of rice, beans, potato, pasta or grains of any kind. You wanna snack? Well you only get 15g, so that's just 1/2 a banana. Good luck being full and functional for the next two hours until you can eat again.

Oh this is going to be hard.

My first week, I spent the first couple days just staring into the pantry and fridge trying to find something that had less than 30g of carbs. I really was starving the first couple days, I couldn't even sleep because I would wake up starving. My glucose even dropped to 50 after a walk to the vet and Petsmart in 85 degree weather (it should be at least 60). So I was allowed 30g snacks instead of 15g, and felt a whole lot better. 15g is nothing.

**Here's the site I used to search each food and count carbs**

I ended up figuring out a bunch of things to eat, and all my numbers stayed in check. Timing all my foods, pre-planning, tracking carbs, researching, actually making the food, and doing properly timed finger prick tests was super annoying. Another week I didn't spend getting ready for baby - who is now much more likely to come early due to my condition. Nor did I have time (or the mental energy) to blog about any of this until now. I couldn't have every hour revolve completely around food.

Here's a look at my (incredibly Type-A) early low-carb diet Excel chart I made (carb allowance, including vegetables: 15-30g, 15g, 30g, 30g, 30g, 15g):



Next post, I'll share a whole bunch of the foods I came up with. I might not have it perfect yet, but I think I managed some good ideas to keep things interesting, and healthy, for my new low-carb life. I confess, I caved and ate fish and chicken, because otherwise I felt starving. Over time, with research and shopping, I came up with more interesting vegetarian options.

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