"You failed the 3-hour glucose test, so you are now diagnosed with gestational diabetes. You will need to meet with a nutritionist and get set up to take your blood sugars four times a day."
I dreaded this diagnosis. It felt like being sentenced to a miserable prison for the final 2 months of my pregnancy. I wanted to be able to eat ice cream and a really satisfying cheeseburger and french fries, without a worry in the world. I was worried about having to deal with even more food restrictions in our already gluten free home. And I really didn't want to prick my finger 4 times a day. Someone else needs to draw vials of blood from my arm? No problem. I need to do the needle? Nooooooo I don't wanna!
Here's the bright side: I've been following a pretty strict diet the past couples weeks and am feeling healthier than I have in a long time, and now I see it as a blessing in disguise. I am making good, healthy food choices not just for myself but also for the baby. And although I see a picture of a donut and my insides start screaming to just eat one, it is just not worth the feeling of dizziness and lethargy that will come with it, not to mention an awful blood sugar reading.
If you've followed my various blogs over the years, you know that we're a gluten free family. Sean was diagnosed with Celiac almost 10 years ago, so food restrictions are not new to us. But I have also had the ability to eat non-gluten free foods as I wish. And now, living with food restrictions, I finally have an understanding of how he has felt for so long. I wander the grocery aisles seeing food after food after food that are simply not an option for me. I look at a restaurant menu and it suddenly feels like there is nothing I can eat without worry or adjustment.
The good news is, it is science and numbers based, so it's not too much of a guessing game as to how to figure out of something is off limits or not. You have to read your labels, check carbohydrates, analyze portion sizes, and then decide if you can eat it. Some lower carb foods are fine in a small amount paired with a good portion of protein and veggies. In many cases, I just cannot eat something, which is why I have come up with a list of meal and snack ideas to work from over the next few weeks to keep things simple and clear. I thought I would share them here in case you are in search of diabetes friendly foods for yourself or a loved one. These are also, simply put, healthy meal ideas for anyone.
The biggest adjustment for me has been portions, and understanding that I can have a small portion of things that I love, but it must be a small portion paired with other healthier choices. More often than not, it's easier to just avoid it altogether. And eat a salad.
I would also invite you to add your favorite healthy meals and snacks in the comments. I am pretty good with eating mostly the same foods day to day, but I do get the yearning to mix it up and try something new every now and then.
- egg whites (scrambled) with cheddar cheese and veggies (I like the Trader Joe's frozen peppers and onions), side of turkey sausage
- plain greek yogurt - I mix in a little vanilla extract and cinnamon, or peanut butter powder, berries
- plain oatmeal, add in blueberries and cinnamon
- small apple, sliced, with peanut butter
- egg white omelette with veggies, turkey bacon, 1 small english muffin
- low-carb toast (my mother-in-law found a gluten free cinnamon raisin swirl that is fairly low carb compared to most breads) with peanut butter
- cottage cheese and a small apple/bowl of fruit
- egg cups with chopped veggies, topped with melted cheddar cheese
- avocado with baked egg
Breakfast habits to break: cereal every day, giant piles of pancakes, Dunkin Donuts drive-thru, large muffins and bagels, sugary coffee drinks, not eating breakfast at all.
- dinner leftovers
- salad with lots of veggies, topped with grilled chicken
- salad with lots of veggies, small cup of cottage cheese on the side
- celery sticks with peanut butter, cup of plain greek yogurt
- veggie sticks with hummus, small portion of multigrain crackers
- half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, side of sliced veggies
- homemade chicken soup (no rice or noodles)
Lunch habits to break: sandwich with chips every day, any fast food, forgetting to eat or eating too late into the afternoon.
- Homemade chicken soup with brown rice or no rice, side salad
- Homemade pizza (1 slice) with large salad topped with grilled chicken
- taco lettuce wraps, topped with cheddar, avocado and diced tomatoes
- Baked chicken with roasted veggies
- Bunless turkey burger with cheese, lettuce and tomato
- Spiraled veggie pasta with chicken sausages, peppers and onions, marinara sauce
- Spaghetti squash buffalo chicken casserole
- Large salad topped with grilled chicken, veggies, hardboiled egg and crumbled bacon
- cottage cheese
- greek yogurt
- veggies (bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, celery) with ranch
- small apple with peanut butter
- celery and peanut butter
- one slice of peanut butter toast
You'll notice a recurring theme is lots of veggies, lean protein, some dairy, and limited bread/pasta/potato. This is not a bad way to live. It's how we should be eating, but somewhere along the line we got consumed by Sugar and Processed Food USA. We stopped thinking about the food we put in our bodies and more and more went for options that taste satisfying and comforting and sweet and fatty in the moment, but do next to nothing for our health.
Now I do not claim to be a health nut. But that doesn't mean I can't care. And the past couple weeks has been a huge wakeup call to me and my health. HUGE. And I wish I cared more over the past few years instead of losing myself in day after day of garbage eating (not literal garbage, hopefully that goes without saying).
Do you struggle with food? Are you settled into a good, healthy routine? What are some healthy meals and snacks you enjoy? What keeps you motivated?