Gestational Diabetes: A Real Food Approach Vs Conventional Nutrition
Every week my inbox is jammed full of questions from readers. The topic I get the most questions about is, by far, gestational diabetes. I recently sat down with Marika Hart, a physiotherapist based out of Australia, who works primarily with moms prenatally and postpartum (check out her biz, Herasphere). She’s had a fair number of clients get diagnosed with gestational diabetes and most of them are left confused about what it means, why they got it, and how to manage it. There are so many misconceptions about gestational diabetes – everything from the diagnosis standards (you’ve likely read about my own woes with the glucola… if not, read the 2-part saga here and here), what it means for your pregnancy and your baby, and the best way to manage gestational diabetes with nutrition. In this interview, Marika and I cover the questions that we get asked most. If you’ve read my book, Real Food for Gestational Diabetes, you know that my “real food approach” to managing GD is a far cry from the conventional nutrition recommendations – and for good reason. It works! The conventional gestational diabetes diet leaves 40% of women with high blood sugar, which means they require insulin or medication to bring those levels down. And that just never sat well with me… hence why I’ve devoted so much energy (and research) over the years to develop an alternative approach that gets results (and tastes good, too!). You’ll learn more about my methods in this interview. Gestational Diabetes: A Real Food Approach vs Conventional Nutrition If you have more questions about gestational diabetes, pop them in the comments below and I’ll be sure to address them in a future interview or blog post. Until next week, Lily PS – If you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabet Continue reading >>
Gestational Diabetes – How I Managed My Illness
When I was 28 weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. To say that I was devastated is an understatement – I cried big, fat ugly tears. I was convinced that I had harmed my baby, probably through my love affair with ice cream and the odd red velvet cupcake. I lay on the couch feeling sorry for myself all day, bawling on and off and fearing the unknown. The next day I put on my big girl pants and started researching the condition. Statistics show that 5-10% of women will develop gestational diabetes in pregnancy. It has nothing to do with the mothers diet in pregnancy. It is caused by the placenta producing hormones that create a build up of sugar in your blood. Normally, your pancreas should produce enough insulin to control the sugar. If your pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, your blood sugar levels will rise, resulting in gestational diabetes. Knowing I couldn’t have done anything to prevent my diagnosis made me feel better. Gestational diabetes can make a pregnancy riskier, and as a result I was treated as a high risk pregnancy for my third trimester. The risks include baby being heavier than normal, developing preeclampsia and a higher likelihood of having a caesarean. I attended a class at my hospital where I was educated on how to control my diet, and how to use a blood sugar monitor. Gestational Diabetes can be treated through diet & exercise, sometimes with the addition of insulin. I was very lucky to be on the lower end of the spectrum and managed my blood sugar level with diet and exercise alone. During my research, I read horror stories about babies being born massive and dislocating shoulders during labour. This is very rare and mostly in cases where the mothers are not diagnosed. Nevertheless, I was very strict on myself and foll Continue reading >>
A few testimonials from current or previous members of our Facebook support group... "I was naive to think that because I was 24 at the time with a BMI of 20, there'd be no way I'd have GD, I was wrong. I was diagnosed at 29 weeks and as a first time Mum, still struggling with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, I was absolutely terrified. My diabetes team weren't terrible, but they weren't great either. I'm a vegetarian and all their suggestions included me going back to eating meat. I then found the Facebook GD group at 31 weeks and straight away started getting helpful advice which didn't involve eating meat. I was given good snack ideas and suggestions to help my sweet tooth craving - something the leaflets from Hospital lacked. I was induced at 39+5 and my beautiful daughter was 7lbs.2 and perfect. None of my family understood how much of a struggle Gestational Diabetes can be, so having Jo and all of the other ladies in the group was a massive help as they were going through the same. If it wasn't for this group, I'd have probably been quite poorly due to fear of eating ANYTHING when first diagnosed. They helped me look after my beautiful daughter... Thank you." Rachael, West Sussex "I developed Gestational diabetes in my third pregnancy which came as a huge shock, I had been tested before in my previous pregnancies (due to having PCOS) with no concerns. I was given very little information from the hospital regarding what foods were safe and what GD really meant. I would of carried on eating Jam on toast and cereal had I not sought information and support from the GD Facebook group. Discovering what GD actually means and what it can do was a huge eye opener and although it was difficult and frustrating changing my eating habits (giving up comfort food in pregnancy is not easy Continue reading >>
How 4 Women Went From Prediabetes To No Diabetes!
What if you were on the path to developing a potentially life-threatening disease—and didn't know it? According to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that might be the case for more than one in three American adults who have prediabetes, a symptomless condition in which the blood sugar is elevated but not high enough to be defined as diabetes. Eventually, it can progress to type 2 diabetes, which increases your risk for heart disease and stroke, as well as vision problems, nerve damage and other problems. The good news: You can beat prediabetes and prevent it from morphing into type 2 diabetes by making simple lifestyle changes. Losing just 5 percent to 10 percent of your body weight (if you're overweight) and exercising more reduces your risk of developing diabetes by nearly 60 percent. Taking action is especially important for women, who have a 40 percent to 50 percent higher chance of developing heart disease after a diabetes diagnosis than men do, according to recent research. The following four women heeded early warning signs and made life-saving changes. 'My pregnancy put me at risk' Name: Carolyn Ketchum, 41 Residence: Wakefield, Mass. Risk Factor: Gestational diabetes Biggest temptation: bread Highest A1C (glycated hemoglobin): 5.8 Lost: 0 pounds (weight loss was not a factor) "I don't fit your usual profile of someone with diabetes, because I've always been slender and active. So I was surprised when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes while pregnant with my third child. As soon as I got the news, I began watching my carbs and testing my blood sugar daily. After I had Maggie in 2009, my endocrinologist suggested I continue testing. Everything seemed within range, but two months later, I started to see my blood sug Continue reading >>
I’ve Got Gestational Diabetes. Now What?
After my doctor diagnosed me with the condition and told me all the horrible things that could go wrong, I left his office with my head spinning. I got in my car, sat down and had to take some serious deep breaths. And then I realized: everything my doctor had told me about gestational diabetes was a blur. What kit did I have to pick up at the pharmacy? What food did I need to avoid? Why was I supposed to wait a week to meet with my nutritionist if what I was eating could harm my baby? Could someone hit the rewind button, please? To give you some background, I’m a healthy gal: I watch what I eat — sugar is a treat, not a main food group; and I’m not a gym rat, but I exercise every day, whether I choose to walk or do yoga. I made it a point to eat super healthy from the very beginning of my pregnancy and gained a grand total of 28 pounds. So how was “I” diagnosed with GD?! Since I am not a doctor, I’m not going to get into the “why,” but I do want to share my journey and what I learned along the way. I had to prick my finger four times a day to track my blood sugar, which I found both annoying and invasive. But I was able to use the data to help manage my way through GD and, most importantly, found a way to control it with diet and exercise. Here are seven tips that helped me cope with and manage my gestational diabetes. 1. Take a pregnant pause: First, remember that it is not your fault — pregnancy is extremely taxing on the body. Then, take a minute (or several) to digest the diagnosis. Gestational diabetes is scary, annoying, frustrating and invasive. So talk to your partner or closest friends, and vent. Finally, surround yourself with other women whom also went through it. 2. Get educated: Gestational diabetes is a beast, so read as much as you can Continue reading >>
The Challenge Of Gestational Diabetes: "why Me?"
My pregnancy had been going well, and I was feeling great. Then my doctor told me I had gestational diabetes, and everything changed. When I found out I was pregnant, I wasn’t just ecstatic at the thought of the new addition. I was also excited at getting a free pass to eat for two! So it was an unhappy shock to discover at the four-month mark that I had gestational diabetes. As the doctor talked about next steps, all I could focus on was the mac ‘n’ cheese burger and chocolate cake I’d had the night before, not to mention the visions of 15-pound babies in my head! The early months of my pregnancy had been blissful. Luckily, I didn't suffer from morning sickness or any of the usual complaints. That all changed with my frightening diagnosis. I decided to do everything I could to control my gestational diabetes and have the healthiest pregnancy and baby possible. A diagnosis of gestational diabetes can be unnerving, even for a health professional. Marlena Isaacs, unit co-ordinator of the emergency department at Rouge Valley Health System - Centenary Site, Toronto, was caught off-guard by her diagnosis. A registered nurse for 13 years, Isaacs was not anticipating any health issues during her pregnancy. She felt great and the baby was developing well. Once diagnosed, she had to follow a strict meal plan, counting her carbohydrates and using measuring cups to control servings. When told she would need insulin, she was devastated. A diabetes educator reassured her that she hadn’t done anything wrong; her body had just become insulin-resistant due to increased hormones. “She told me not to worry, I did everything right,” Isaacs says. “I think I was in denial that this was really happening to me, until they sent me home with insulin to inject myself.” What is Continue reading >>
Gestational Diabetes Changed My Life In Ways I Could Never Have Imagined
Team Diabetes I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes by my obstetrician (OB) when I was around 32 weeks pregnant. For a week I tried to regulate my blood sugar levels through diet and exercise, but my body had different plans: I was insulin-dependent soon after. I went through a bout of depression, blaming myself and my eating habits and lack of exercise. Even though my OB and the diabetes clinic told me it wasn’t my fault, I still blamed myself. I took their advice seriously and counted carbs, diligently checked my sugars, and gave myself insulin (what a way to get over a fear of needles!). My little girl, Lillian, was born at a healthy 8 lb., 10 oz. on the morning I was scheduled to be induced. Shortly after, my sugars returned to normal. Exactly two years later, I was pregnant again. I watched my diet and exercise like a hawk. Despite my best efforts, gestational diabetes found me again early in my third trimester. My son, Alfred, was born a week and a half early, weighing 9 lb., 10 oz., with severe shoulder dystocia. In this medical emergency (which I learned is a possible side effect of having gestational diabetes), the baby’s head is delivered but the shoulders are stuck, compressing the umbilical cord and potentially suffocating the baby. Luckily, Alfred suffered no lasting effects. My husband, Mike, and I were surprised but happy that I was pregnant again 8½ months later. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes late in the first trimester this time, and the pregnancy was going well. We happily appeared at a routine ultrasound at 20 weeks. We left devastated to learn that our son, Gabriel, had a fatal neural tube defect called anencephaly: his brain and skull had failed to develop and he had a 0% chance of survival. The doctors told us that anencephaly Continue reading >>
Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes can be a shock, but it could also turn out to be a long-term boon for you and your baby. Besides being an “older” mom, Cecilia Paetsch had no risk factors for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM, or high blood sugar during pregnancy). “i thought it was really only a concern for obese women, and my weight wasn’t an issue,” says the 35-year-old attorney from Northbrook, Ill. “I was also pretty conscientious about what I ate, and somewhat consistent about exercise, so I figured i was in the clear.” Paetsch’s pregnancy was normal and routine—until she was diagnosed last year with GDM at week 25. Paetsch is one of a growing number of women being diagnosed with GDM, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports now affects 2 percent to 10 percent of expectant women. in 2011, the American Diabetes Association endorsed lowering the threshold for diagnosis, but most OB-GYNs are still utilizing the old standard. If the proposed new criteria are used, the number of women diagnosed with GDM could jump to 18 percent—nearly 1 in 5, says Mark Landon, M.D., chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. GDM develops when hormones from the placenta compromise a woman’s ability to use the insulin produced by her pancreas. Though most women compensate by producing extra insulin to break down glucose (blood sugar) for energy, some can’t; their excess glucose builds up in their blood and passes through the placenta to the fetus. Recent studies indicate GDM can have long-term consequences for mothers and children and that it poses risks at lower blood-sugar levels than previously thought, says Landon, the lead author of a large 2009 stu Continue reading >>
Learning To Cope With Gestational Diabetes
Two Fridays ago, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I was devastated. This pregnancy has been stressful enough for me, just hoping that the baby will be OK and dealing with an ever demanding toddler at the same time. I felt completely blindsided by this development. After all, I’m young, healthy, I exercise and eat a balanced diet and I have no risk factors. Yet both the preliminary 1 hour screening and the 3 hour glucose challenge showed my blood sugar levels to be elevated. All I could imagine was the hassles associated with becoming high risk and having a medically invasive birth instead of the more natural experience I was hoping for. First hurdle was the seeming lack of sympathy of the office staff at my OBGYN. I received the call with my test results on Friday afternoon while packing to leave for a weekend trip to visit family. I was informed that my results were too high and given the phone number to another office to call and set up an appointment with a staff “who would help me deal with my weight gain and dietary issues.” In the stress of the moment I wanted to blurt out to the nurse that I eat a healthy diet and lower than typical for pregnancy weight gain and that I wasn’t overweight before I got pregnant either so why didn’t she just keep her opinions to herself. Of course I didn’t say this, and I had to remind myself that she was just doing test result call backs, she didn’t know me or even have my chart. As far as she was concerned that was the end of the phone call. I had to stop her and try to ask some questions. I got my actual test numbers and managed to get a basic explanation of what to expect from this new specialist, including an address. Apparently the office I was being referred to has a special gestational diabetes program Continue reading >>