Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Living with GD

No one wants to get gestational diabetes - that really goes without saying. But it does happen, and I'd like to say one thing about it: it's not that bad.

No really - it's not! I'm not just saying that to make myself feel better or to downplay the risks it brings to your pregnancy (because it does bring some risks). But it's really not as bad as it sounds, or as difficult to live with as you might think.

Let's talk about food. While it's true that you do have to cut back on refined carbohydrates (sugars, white bread, potatoes, white rice...basically the white foods), it's not like there's nothing left to eat. I can still eat carbs - in fact, I HAVE to eat them because your body and your babies need a certain amount of carbs at every meal - but they're in a different form. Instead of regular potatoes, I eat sweet potatoes. Instead of white bread, I have wholegrain bread. Instead of white rice, I cook Basmati rice (which to most people looks and tastes virtually the same as white rice anyway). I can still have pasta, as long as it's a reasonable serve and not a massive bowl - in fact, last night I had delish homemade mac&cheese as a side dish!

My guidelines from my dietitian are that I have 30 grams of carbs at breakfast, 45g at both lunch and dinner, and 15-30g at snacks (at least two snacks per day, between meals). It's important that the carbs are paired with a protein, which helps to slow the sugar's absorption into your system. Here's what I might have on a typical day, just as an example:
Breakfast: yogurt with 1/4 cup of muesli, or 2 scrambled eggs with a slice of toast and a glass of milk
Morning snack: 2 wholegrain crackers with cottage cheese (my crackers are quite large, so you may need more depending on what kind you have), or some mini pretzels with cheese
Lunch: chicken or tuna with lettuce on wholegrain seeded bread and a handful of grapes, or a chef salad that includes mixed beans, cheese and some kind of meat
Afternoon snack: apple with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, or a pear with a few slices of cheese
Dinner: Thai chicken curry with basmati rice on the side, or maybe a couple burritos with beef, beans and other toppings (reduced carb tortillas are my new favorite thing!)
So as you can see, I still eat good food, and plenty of it - there are even a ton of delicious dessert recipes out there (helloooo cheesecake), so you can still satisfy that sweet tooth! I actually feel a bit odd even calling this a "diet" since it's really just the way we should all eat normally anyway.

All of this said, I will be honest: the last two weeks have been frustrating. Not because of the food, but because of how my body has been reacting to it. My doctor wanted to try controlling the GD with diet alone initially, so that's what we did. And it wasn't working for me. I was very, very careful with my meals - everything was weighed or measured to make sure that I was getting the correct portion sizes - and my blood sugar levels were still all over the chart. In fact, I could eat something one day, get a great blood sugar reading, then eat the exact same thing the next day and get a ridiculously high number. No matter what I did, I just couldn't get it to stabilize - and for someone as habitually in control as I am, this is immensely frustrating!

So yesterday I saw the doctor who is overseeing my GD, and as of today I'm on insulin. It may sound strange, but I was actually pretty eager to start the drugs - I want to get this under control, and I want to do that as fast as possible, so once it became clear that food alone wasn't going to work, I was impatient to move on to the next step.

Because both my fasting and post-meal blood sugar was high, I've been prescribed two different types of insulin. The first is a rapid release dose which I take three times a day, 10 minutes before each main meal - this helps my body absorb and cope with the sugar from the food I'm about to eat. The second is a once-a-day dose that I have at bedtime - it operates in the background for 24 hours to keep my fasting sugar levels stable so I'm not on a sugary roller coaster.

I don't have a needle phobia, but I was still a little nervous about having to inject insulin into my abdomen four times a day. But it really isn't that bad - in fact, it's actually less painful than the finger pricks you have to do to check your blood sugar. You use an epipen (or, in my case, two different epipens for the different insulins), and the needles are quite small and thin, so aside from an initial light pricking sensation, you don't really feel anything.

So there you have it! I hope it gives everyone a better understanding of what living with GD is like, and I want anyone out there who has just been diagnosed to see that it's really not that bad - you don't have to survive on bland food while being stabbed with 5" needles. And best of all, it's not forever, but just until you give birth!


  1. You gave me the twinges with that needle into belly mental picture----EEEE!!! Poor you!!!

  2. Thank you for sharing, it was interesting to learn about GD

  3. Oh dear, just what you don't want! Very informative and a great post! I might have to link to it some time!

  4. I'm so sorry you are having to go through this. I was worried about developing that with each pregnancy.
    Dropped by from SITS.

  5. Good for you for having the right attitude... once I could wrap my brain around having GD, especially with insulin dependence, like you, I realized it wasn't as bad as I had thought it would be. The injections pens are SO user friendly and you're right they hurt WAY less than the finger sticks (as long as you find a fleshy part on your belly to inject the insulin... which became a challenge the tighter/firmer my baby bump got... well, I mean, finding a fleshy part that I could SEE anyway!)

    Hang in there...you're on the final stretch (literally)... my GD was completely gone within 12 hours of delivery... I hope the same for you!

  6. I too was diagnosed with GD at 15 wks with my son. Diet was not balancing mine out either, so I started insulin at 17 weeks. I only had to do it at night though since it was just the fasting sugars that were high. THanks for sharing such an insightful and positive look on something many women fear. I came over from SITS.