Gestational diabetes is not your fault! It happens as a result of some of the hormones circulated during pregnancy interfering with the action of insulin, another hormone. Insulin has the job of getting glucose from the blood into the cells. Gestational diabetes is diagnosed when the glucose levels are too high in the blood. You can do a glucose test with your healthcare provider during your second or third trimester to check the circulating levels of glucose in your blood. If you have a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes your healthcare provider may start screening in the first trimester.
So here you are growing a baby, and with that comes sensations and emotions you may have never thought possible to feel all at once. And now there’s this gestational diabetes curve ball happening. I remember going for the glucose test with my own pregnancy and feeling the uncertainty and uneasiness doing a diagnostic test presents. The best thing I can say here is to breathe and do what you can to put your body at ease through the process. This may simply mean staying in bed an extra five minutes to gather your thoughts before the day begins or try some of the self-kindness ideas listed below. There is only one you and growing a baby is a big job!
- Sit down while drying off after a shower and rub some lotion on your face and arms
- Have breakfast outside feeling a warm ray of sunlight on your skin
- Watch a short funny YouTube video (search funny animal videos)
- Take a warm bath and listen to your favorite music
- Pick a handful of dandelions for a bouquet
If you are like me you, once you learn about something happening in your body you want to do what you can to optimize the process for a positive outcome. Meeting with one of the nutritionists at Ruby Health and Wellness will support you with tapping into some of the factors that may impact blood levels of glucose such as:
- Timing of meals and snacks
- Combining different foods at meals and snacks
- Self-care for managing stress (like taking deep breaths)
- Timing of daily activity (think joyful movement)
One of the biggest misconceptions about gestational diabetes and diabetes in general is that if carbohydrates (aka carbs) raise blood glucose levels then they should not be eaten. This is most certainly not true! Glucose is the preferred fuel source for the brain, the muscles and tissues. It’s found in carbs and needs to be eaten consistently for adequate energy. Finding ways to combine foods to pair carbs with proteins and fats in a mixed meal or snack will allow blood glucose levels to rise more steadily and avoid large spikes and drops. When carbs are eliminated completely it sets off the body’s famine alarm which can be a setup for out of control binges and carb cravings. Having a hankering for something sweet is not what we’re talking about. This is a physiological need not being met. The brain knows when it’s not getting the glucose it needs to operate. Keeping carbs as part of meals and snacks is the answer here.
If you’re wondering what’s meant by a mixed meal or snack….
|Mixed Meals||Mixed Snacks|
|Rice Bowl – Rice with, chicken or beef, salsa and cheese||Sliced apples dipped in peanut butter|
|Egg Salad Sandwich – 2 slices of bread with egg salad, tomato and lettuce||Crackers and cheese|
|Chili – kidney beans, ground turkey or beef, bell peppers, tomatoes and grated cheese||Popcorn and almonds|
Moving in the body can be a natural way to lower circulating levels of blood glucose. And for many this conjures up images of being on a treadmill or lifting weights. If these are things you enjoy then go for it! Otherwise know that finding something that feels good in your body is the target here.
Taking a walk in the park with the dog or rolling out the yoga mat for some gentle movements with the breath support the body just as well. We know that when stress levels rise glucose levels climb! Physical activity that’s enjoyable can produce endorphins that help lower stress levels. Check in with yourself: does moving the body feel good during or after? Is the activity a fun way to connect with friends? Or am I counting down the minutes until it is over? If the latter, find a different way to move.
- I should not be eating sugar
What’s the first thing that tends to happen when you tell yourself you should not be eating something? For most people, they tend to want it even more. It’s as if the inner two-year-old takes over. “I won’t be told what to do!” For others, they may be able to refrain from eating the food that’s now off-limits, but then when they finally get around it, they binge on it. This is diet mentality. It fuels shame and regret. As we’ve already touched on earlier, carbohydrates impact blood sugar levels, and sugar is a carbohydrate. Integrating foods you enjoy and having them as part of mixed meals and snacks in a consistent pattern is one of the best things you can do for yourself. I often turn clients on to the book by Michelle Mays, MD and Megrette Fletcher, RDN, CDE, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes.
- The nutritionist at Ruby Health and Wellness will put me on a diet
The nutritionists at Ruby Health and Wellness train clients to eat in a way that aligns both with your body’s physical and mental health needs. This may involve developing tools to eat more intuitively, if you have a history of eating patterns rooted in diet culture. Or it may include inviting more structure to the timing of meals and snacks if you tend to have an irregular habit of eating. One of my favorite parts of the job is liberalizing food.
Diet culture is so firmly rooted in our society, and it involves cutting out entire food groups. Dairy-free, gluten-free, and low-carb have become ways of life instead of ways to manage a true food allergy or medical condition. Ruby nutritionists will never ask you to stop eating your favorite foods, nor eliminate whole food groups. Instead, they invite you to get curious about how your body responds to the nourishment you provide. A Ruby nutritionist will work together with you to inventory and attune to:
- Energy levels
- Finger stick, blood glucose readings (obtained from a glucometer)
- Mood throughout the day
- Hunger and fullness signaling
Based on your past and current relationship with food, the two of you will create a workable eating plan. A side note on eating plans, think of this as a general framework that serves as a touchstone to support you through the day. Flexibility and fun are part of it, and you better believe that it will include foods you love to eat!