by Florencia Tagliavini, The Nutramilk Nutritionist
I had just gotten through a beautiful 2nd trimester, watching my belly grow, feeling my baby move and just in awe of this miracle growing inside me. I had been really taking care of myself, carefully watching what I was eating and getting my daily exercise. I tend to eat pretty healthy anyway but now I was feeding my little growing baby and so I really took on that responsibility. As a dietitian, I studied nutrition in all stages of life, including pregnancy so I knew exactly what I needed to eat to have a healthy baby and make sure my body did not get depleted of nutrients as well.
Third trimester came around and it was time for the dreaded glucose test. My first test results came out bad but I just thought it was a false positive as I knew that could happen. Unfortunately, it was not a false positive. What I most wanted to avoid during pregnancy, happened! Gestational Diabetes! Yup! I was pretty shocked, I felt I had done a pretty good job at taking care of myself and my baby and I definitely had the correct knowledge to know that I had done the right things. In my case, I was not upset because I would not be able to enjoy certain foods such as cake, ice cream or a lot of high carb foods for the remainder of my pregnancy, since I mostly stayed away from those foods anyway.
It was like a slap to my ego, I guess. Thinking I could control everything especially since I knew what I was doing. I did understand the physiology behind gestational diabetes and how hormonal changes in the third trimester can cause this condition but still, why did I have to get it? I knew so many people that didn't get it and they didn't even take care of themselves. It was hard to accept and frustrating. Feelings of guilt clouded me; did I really do a good job eating and exercising? Could I have done better taking care of myself? Eventually, I got over myself, put my ego aside and accepted this label of gestational diabetes and started moving forward to make sure I could manage it with diet, exercise and no stress.
Unlike type 1 or 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes is a bit different in the sense that you have to have enough carbs daily to make sure your body does not produce ketones (a by-product which results from your body using fat as fuel instead of carbs/glucose and which could be dangerous for the baby) but at the same time you can't have so many carbs to where your glucose levels rise. Finding this balance can be frustrating until you get the hang of it. This is when I used the NutraMilk the most. Nuts and seeds are super helpful in regulating glucose levels as many studies have shown, so they were my go-to food every day!
Here are a few tips that worked for me:
- One of the most important things for me was to make sure I ate every 3 hours or a bit sooner than that, no skipping or prolonging meals/snacks because then it becomes hard to control glucose levels.
- I ate nuts everyday in different preparations, they were my savior to keep blood glucose stable, especially when I combined them with carbohydrates.
- Sometimes fasting glucose can be the hardest to keep under control, so pretty much every night, before bed I had 1 slice of whole wheat toast to get enough carbs in and I spread my homemade almond butter that I made with the NutraMilk. Yummy! Such a good treat!
- I also tried different homemade nut butters to dip fresh fruits as my mid-day snack.
- A few times a week I also drank nut milk (I tried a bunch of different ones using stevia as a sweetener) as part of my breakfast or snack.
- Made chia pudding with the various nut milks. Chia is very nutritious and has a high fiber content so it helps with controlling glucose and it just so good with nut milks.
In the end, it was not as bad as I thought. I was able to manage glucose levels and have a healthy pregnancy with just diet, exercise, and not worrying too much. It got me motivated to get more creative with meals and different nut recipes. I was also able to better understand what people living with diabetes go through - the challenges and the solutions.