I’ve been formally diagnosed with gestational diabetes five times, and twice my doctors just skipped the glucose tolerance test, instead asking me to monitor my blood sugar just as if I was “officially” diagnosed. Ironically, my one baby that I passed the GTT and did not have blood sugar problems was my biggest baby, at 8 lbs. 3 oz. All of my other babies were 8 lbs. or less.
Fortunately, each time I was able to control my sugars without using insulin. I use a combination of supplements and diet, and that seems to work for me and my body.
With my first baby, I was given the official diabetic diet of interchanges (a food is worth 1 fat, and 2 carbohydrate/starches, for example). This diet did not work for me at all. It was inconvenient, complicated, and did not lower my readings. So I began researching other dietary plans.
Please note I am sharing *my* story, and please work with your health care provider to monitor and control your blood glucose. Do NOT stop taking insulin because you read something on the internet, please!
Keep a food journal. Everybody is slightly different, and a food journal is the key to discovering which foods have a dire effect on your blood sugar. Write down what you eat and what you ate it with, grouping your journal around meals rather than a straight list.
Measure your food. It’s especially important to know how much of which foods you are eating. You can get an inexpensive food scale, or just use basic kitchen measuring cups and spoons. For example, instead of using a serving spoon to scoop mashed potatoes onto your plate, use a 1/2 c. measuring cup.
As you begin to learn which foods your body turns straight to sugar, and which foods help regulate it, you can begin the next step: food combining.
Eat carbs, but eat them with fiber, fat, and protein. Go ahead and have a sandwich for lunch, but make sure it’s turkey on double fiber or whole wheat bread with some cheese. Eat an apple, but spread it with peanut butter.
Watch the white stuff. Sugar isn’t your only enemy. What you really need to look out for are high glycemic foods- foods which your body can quickly and efficiently turn into glucose. Refined flour falls in this category, as do white potatoes and white rice. Juice, even 100% fruit juice, is like diabetic poison and will probably shoot your blood sugar through the roof. Many women find using and experimenting with bean flours, instead of baking and cooking grains, to be helpful.
Using a food journal, I discovered that I could eat a baked potato with the skin (fiber), sour cream, bacon, and real butter (fat, protein) with a meal and I would be OK. French fries on their own would cause me to have elevated blood sugars for hours.
Exercise will help reduce high blood sugars and help keep things even. Of course you won’t be doing aerobics, but even taking walks or playing with the kids can be beneficial. Check with your doctor or midwife for recommended prenatal exercise programs.
L-Carnitine can be useful for diabetics. It’s an amino acid, but I couldn’t find info on whether it has been safety tested for safety during pregnancy; however, two different OBs told me it was safe. I usually take 1000 mg twice a day.
Eat more, but spread it out. 5-6 small meals (with fiber and protein) are better that 3 large ones.
Tip: if your morning/fasting blood sugars are high, you might consider eating a high-protein bedtime snack. Sometimes the elevated reading is because it’s been so long since your body had fuel – and pregnancy causes such high demands- that your body starts scavenging glucose from other sources, such as fat stores. Adding a snack at night might help lower your early morning sugars.
If you continue keeping a food journal, and compare it to your blood glucose records, you should be able to see patterns developing which will help you tweak your diet for the best success.