Friday, July 30, 2010

Gestational Diabetes

You might have noticed that my weekly menu postings have been missing the past couple of weeks. A major reason for this is that I have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that occurs in approximately 5% of pregnancies. There are many degrees of gestational diabetes, but the type I have is generally controlled through diet and exercise. The diet part is why my weekly menu postings have disappeared . . .it is a lot harder to meal plan on the gestational diabetes diet, and I haven't been able to sit down and plan a week's worth of menus at one time (although in the upcoming weeks I will be planning my weekly menus).

I had gestational diabetes with Ella, so I was not surprised to be diagnosed again this pregnancy (women who have it in previous pregnancies have an increased risk to have it in subsequent pregnancies). And, while gestational diabetes is not something to be taken lightly, I'm not too worried about it. If gestational diabetes is properly managed, it is unlikely that me or the baby will have any complications. The big problems with gestational diabetes usually arise when it is uncontrolled. I test my blood sugar at least twice a day (and usually test 3-4 times) to make sure that my fasting number (my blood sugar level when I wake up) and my after meal numbers are being properly controlled through diet and exercise (although I haven't been good at the exercise part yet . . .). In almost all pregnancies gestational diabetes goes away immediately after delivering the baby.

So, what type of diet do I have to follow with gestational diabetes? Different dietitians will recommend slightly different versions of this diet, but generally it is a high protein, low carbohydrate diet where you eat every few hours (rather than just three big meals during the day). The plan specifically lists how many carbs I'm allotted at each meal or snack because carbohydrates (starches and sugars) are what affects blood glucose levels.

Breakfast: 30g of carbohydrates
Mid-morning snack: 15-30g of carbohydrates
Lunch: 45g of carbohydrates
Mid-afternoon snack: 15-30g of carbohydrates
Dinner: 45g of carbohydrates
Evening snack: 15-30g of carbohydrates
Now, 30g or 45g of carbs might sound like a lot of carbs - but it isn't, at  least not to me. Consider that it is almost impossible to eat a serving size of cereal for less than 30g of carbs (and that is without milk). Or, that one cup of cooked pasta (depending on the pasta) has more than 30g of carbs, and that doesn't count the carbs that would be in a tomato or cream sauce.

Although the diet is strict, and certainly isn't fun to follow, it isn't the end of the world. And, I think there is a bright side this time around . . . I don't have to go through the holidays on the diet! When I was pregnant with Ella, I was diagnosed right before Thanksgiving and I had to follow the diet through Thanksgiving and Christmas. Can you imagine a Thanksgiving meal where you have to count carbs?? :)