When starting my pregnancy journey with diabetes by my side, I knew there would be restrictions. My diet would need to be tweaked, workout regimens would be adjusted, and the limitations and restrictions would come into play. However, I was shocked by the, “Don’ts,” I would be given, especially when it came to food.
Although I restrain myself as a diabetic when it comes to certain types of food and the amount I consume, everything was generally all right in moderation. However, pregnancy is a whole different ballgame. Here are some of the wonderful guidelines set forth by my nutritionist.
Breakfast: Because your hormones are at their highest in the morning, your blood sugar is likely to rise more easily and quickly partly due to the insulin resistance that comes with being pregnant. Therefore, diet restrictions are at their max for breakfast. No fruit, dairy, and caffeine (if it can be avoided) are permitted.
*Interesting Tidbit: Caffeine has also been known to raise blood sugar levels. A study published in “Diabetes Care” in 2007 looked at the effects of black coffee on blood glucose levels. They suggest that the presence of caffeine increases the hormone epinephrine, which reduces glucose metabolism. Another speculation concerns control of the brain’s regulation of glucose uptake — caffeine affects certain receptors inside the brain that might inhibit glucose clearance into the cells.
Meaning, those wonderful fresh strawberries you like to sprinkle in your Greek yogurt with a hot cup of coffee are both a thing of the past. Milk with your healthy low carb pancakes on those lazy Sunday mornings is a distant memory, along with cream cheese smothered on your warm, nutty whole grain toast.
Instead, for the past six months I have been on an egg and toast diet (with some turkey bacon or sausage if time permits); eggs with cheese, eggs with peppers and onions, eggs with bacon bits, eggs with salsa or Cholula, eggs in an omelet, eggs in a sandwich.
“Say! I like green eggs and ham! I do! I like them, Sam-I-am! And I would eat them in a boat. And I would eat them with a goat…and I will eat them in the rain. And in the dark. And on a train. And in a car. And in a tree. They are so good, so good, you see!”
~ Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
No words have ever been more true.
Lunch and Dinner: For lunch and dinner, I do have a little more flexibility. I am supposed to stick to 30 grams of carbs per meal, but I honestly compare this task to climbing Mt. Everest. So, I stick to around 45 grams of carbs per meal with sometimes a little less or a little more. Healthy protein, veggies, and whole grains of some sort are on the menu. Pinterest has been a huge help in jazzing up my evening meals.
Dessert: Forget about it. Dessert is not up for negotiation when you’re pregnant with diabetes. Nor is any treat with refined sugar in it. However, that being said I do sometimes make my own desserts from scratch that satisfy my sweet tooth craving, but are low in carbs. (Always in moderation.)
Cheesecake made with a safe sweetner is my top choice since cream cheese itself practically has no carbs in it. Adding fresh fruit is a real treat, but this is a rare delight since fruit has its own sugar.
Dessert can be a possibility as long as everything is made from scratch, so I can control the amount of sugar substitute I use (sometimes a little is all it takes) and the additional ingredients are low in carb. For example, instead of white flour, I use coconut flour or almond meal, and I always try to add whole grains or nuts when allotted.
My biggest struggle is balance. Balancing the amount of carbs I eat and making sure it is not too much or too little is a challenge for me. Too few carbs can lead to ketones and malnutrition for you and the baby, which I have done. Too many carbs can of course lead to high blood sugar and harm to your baby.
Overall, the pressure is tough. Analyzing everything you eat and making sure you eat enough carbs, but not too much is a fine balance. That little voice in your head telling you every blood sugar level above 130 mg/dL can lead to birth defects in your baby carries tremendous weight on your shoulders. But even with tremendous pressure, I know it will be well worth it in the end.