At 30 weeks pregnant, my biggest concern was which style of diaper bag to choose. As a natural planner, I had already prepared the nursery, taken my childbirth class, and read everything there is to know about pregnancy and child care. I knew what to expect when I was expecting.
That is, until I learned I had gestational diabetes.
When the doctor’s office called to give me the news, I was so shocked that I didn’t know what questions to ask. I didn’t feel any different. My weight gain had been right on track for a healthy pregnancy. After the nausea and fatigue of the first trimester, I began exercising regularly again. My diet was pretty decent too, except for the occasional splurge on soda or dessert. And as if that wasn’t enough, I didn’t know anyone in my family who had diabetes.
So, why me?
Off to diabetes boot camp
The more I Googled gestational diabetes, the more confused and worried I became. How bad were my glucose levels? Would I have to take insulin shots? Would my baby have diabetes? I ran down the list of possible complications for both me and the baby, and couldn’t help feeling like it was all my fault.
Once I spoke with my doctor, I began to feel a little better. She, too, was surprised by the results and confirmed that my glucose levels were just over the threshold. This meant that I had a good chance of being able to manage the disease with diet and exercise.
Next, I was sent off to what I call diabetes boot camp, where I learned about the disease and how to use a blood glucose monitor. Then I met with a registered dietitian for nutrition counseling. She reassured me this is a condition that I can control and designed a meal plan specifically for me.
Some of the rules that especially surprised me were:
- Limit total carbohydrate intake (not just sugar)
- No fruit or fruit juice before lunch
- Always eat protein with any carbohydrates
- Eat lots of fiber and vegetables
- Eat three small meals and three snacks, even if you’re not hungry, each day
Taking control of my diabetes
It hasn’t been entirely easy adjusting to my new meal plan, but I’m already getting the hang of it. I thought for sure three small meals would leave me famished, but as long as I have a snack every couple of hours with some type of protein, I’m fine.
My baby shower was the ultimate challenge and the one time I’ve gone over my blood sugar level. But I refused to give up. The next day, I tried a cookie from the shower, and then went for a half hour walk. The next time I checked my blood sugar it was surprisingly low. So I’ve learned how daily exercise can help me control my sugar and still allow me to splurge once in awhile.
Now I feel like I’m learning new eating habits that will keep me much healthier in the future, and that I have a second chance to ward off any potential for type 2 diabetes.
I definitely recommend nutrition counseling, whether you’re trying to lose weight or just eat healthier. My health plan covered it for free without a referral, so check to see if yours does too.
How do you deal with the unexpected when it comes to your health? How do you stay motivated to take care of yourself – whether it’s taking your meds, staying active, or keeping to a diet?
Today is Step Out: Walk to Fight Diabetes in Philadelphia. Can’t make it to the walk? Be a virtual walker, learn more.