I'm writing this post partly because I have gotten a few requests for specifics about my GD diet and what my meals look like. But I am also writing it in the hopes that six months from now, a stressed out pregnant woman will perform a google search for GD meal recommendations and wind up here and read this :
"It's okay. You'll be fine."
I have found that in the scheme of things, gestational diabetes, while annoying, is no big deal. Best case, I change my diet, eat healthy, exercise, gain an appropriate amount of weight & maintain correct blood sugar levels. Worst case, I am unable to manage my blood sugar with diet and exercise & need to take medication. But here's the thing, as long as it's properly managed, I should be blessed with a healthy baby. There can be complications of course. But there can always complications. This is birth. This is life.
Once I embraced that, this whole thing became easier.
Some things I have learned from experience over the past ten weeks :
- eating vegetables (especially green ones!) with meals helps keep my blood sugar down
- most fruits are out aside from berries
- walks after meals help keep numbers low
- strenuous exercise can make numbers higher
- stress plays a HUGE factor in blood sugar levels
- a glass of milk or a small bit of carbohydrates right before bed can help my body regulate sugars overnight
Part of this diet is writing down everything I eat and taking my blood sugar four times a day (through finger sticks). I am totally a creature of habit so once I figured out what meals worked, I pretty much just rotated through them over and over. It's been almost a blessing that Paul is gone because no one is here to get tired of the same six meals.
BREAKFAST : nut granola with milk. Or nut granola mixed with full-fat greek yogurt.
MORNING SNACK : berries and natural peanut butter. (Not the Skippy peanut butter that says "natural" on the front of the label, but the real stuff that is made with just peanuts and salt.) I also eat almond butter often. Or if I am going to be out and about, a handful of almonds and a bit of cheese. Or if I want something savory, a scoop of cottage cheese with season salt and pepper.
LUNCH : a grilled cheese sandwich with turkey (from the deli not a package that lasts six months). Sometimes I'll add avocado and other times, I spread on a healthy dose of homemade asparagus pesto (which lately, I've been making heavy on the asperagus, low on the basil). I have been using whole wheat sandwich thins that have 22g of carbohydrates. I grill the sandwich open faced in the oven at 400*F for just a few minutes until the meat is hot and the cheese is melted.
The side is usually strawberries, raw red bell pepper (red bell pepper has more vitamin C than an orange, but way less sugar) or a caprese salad.
AFTERNOON SNACK : usually something like what I had for the morning snack, but not the exact same. I love these almond "cookies" too. TIP: they are even better with crunchy almond butter. Sometimes I'll spread a bit of peanut butter on them if I'm feeling really hungry.
DINNER : a bit more variation. I've made chicken quesadillas (with rotisserie chicken or deli meat) quite often. I use whole wheat, preservative free tortillas from Trader Joe's and they cook up really well. I'll put avocado right on top or spread on some asparagus pesto (sounds odd, but it's super good). For sides with the quesadilla, I'll either have a ton of red bell pepper, this broccoli slaw, this brussel sprout salad or an artichoke. (We steam them and then eat the "meat" off the leaves with a bit of mayo and balsamic vinegar.)
I often scramble eggs and eat them with or without a tortilla. I've had more than a few caprese salads. I also eat lots of spinach salads with whatever berries or veggies I have in the fridge. I always make sure to throw some meat in there (heated deli meat or chicken). Sometimes I'll just cut a ton of cooked chicken, red bell pepper and cucumber and eat all that dipped in asparagus pesto.
EVENING SNACK : usually is greek yogurt, a bit of honey and berries. Sometimes it's peanut butter and half a serving (about 11g of carbs) of crackers. If I am feeling hungry before bed I'll drink a cup of milk.
Seriously...this is it. This is what I have eaten for about 10 weeks. :) There are so many other things that work on this diet and many of the paleo recipes that you can find on Pinterest are awesome. But, like I said, I am a creature of habit. I also am very pro REAL FOOD - you can read more about that here - so I didn't just want to load up on "sugar-free!" snacks when I got this diagnosis.
When I go out to dinner or lunch, I order some sort of meat and always substitute extra veggies for potatoes or whatever they come with. I have just a few bites of dessert if we order it. I love burgers, but order them piled with stuff (tomatoes, lettuce, onions, etc) and then don't eat the top of the bun and only eat a few fries. Dining out for breakfast is super easy...eggs dishes are in...toast and pancakes are out. No juice. I drink only milk, water, coffee (1 cup caffeinated in the mornings, sometimes a decaf iced latte in the afternoons) & caffeine-free tea.
Once this little one arrives, my body should return to normal and be back to regulating sugar just fine on it's own. (I will have another glucose test about six weeks after her birth to confirm this.) I am excited about french toast. I am looking forward to a cup of gelato. I can't wait to make nachos on occasion with Paul. But overall, I know I'll stick with many of the habits established from this diet because I feel really good. My mood has improved. I sleep well. I never get headaches. My midwives are happy with my weight gain. I feel full and alert and active. I can't imagine not wanting those feelings to continue. Especially over a plate of pasta. ;)
*Please note, I am not a doctor or dietitian and what worked for my body may not work for yours. Hopefully this is a good jumping off point for your own GD diet or healthy eating plan.
Update from April 2016! hi Mamas with GD! It's been three years since I wrote this post. In June 2013 I delivered a 7lb9oz baby girl and I now have a very healthy almost three year old AND a 5.5 month old. I ended up NOT having GD with my second pregnancy and I attribute it to all the walking I added to my daily routine. I got a Fitbit and started hitting 10k steps a day regularly. (You can read about that here.) Again, I am not a doctor, but I think the added activity level is why I had no blood sugar issues the second time around. My second daughter was born at 40w2d and weighed 7lbs7oz despite the fact that I didn't follow a special diet and just ate normally. :)
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