Saturday, March 7, 2015

gestational diabetes-my story and what i'm eating

For those who didn't already know this, I have gestational diabetes. That means peeing in a cup and checking my keytones every morning, pricking my finger 4 times a day, writing down my blood sugar 4 times a day, watching what I eat, and just hoping and praying that baby will be born healthy.
My handy-dandy Blood Glucose Diary and finger-pricking kit
My story starts all the way back in the middle of January when I was about 28 weeks along. I went in for a typical doctor's appointment and to take a glucose screening test. For this test, I had to fast for one hour before coming in and then I had to drink this nasty orange drink in 5 minutes or less. The drink itself didn't taste nasty, in fact, it kind of tasted like orange soda. But what it did to my body is what made it nasty. I remember waiting for my doctor in the little room with Ammon, feeling miserable. I quickly got a bad headache, my heart was pounding, and my body felt really jittery. Once my doctor came in to see me, he reassured me that these symptoms were not unusual. I do not like that orange drink one bit.

Exactly one hour after starting the drink, my blood was drawn and then I left. A few days later, I got a phone call from a nurse at my doctor's office explaining that I did not pass the screening. They like women to be less than 140 and I scored 142. I was off by 3 points!! Grrr. The lady on the phone told me that I needed to go in for a 3 hour glucose test, where they would give me a final test and officially diagnose me. For this test, I was told that I needed to fast for 12 hours before-hand. Obviously, trying to fast all day while pregnant and then going in doesn't make sense. So that only left mornings. Well I work full time as a teacher, so that meant my only option for getting this test done was on a Saturday morning. Well, the first Saturday, I had a ward baby shower. So I didn't go in. The next Saturday, I forgot to fast for 12 hours so I didn't go in. (Can you tell I wasn't taking this seriously?)

Finally, 3 weeks later, on February 7th, I went into the office to take the dreadful test. I arrived at the office having fasted for a little over 12 hours. When I got there, I had to wait for a few minutes before they called me back. They drew my blood and then I had to drink that awful orange drink again. This time around, I had the hardest time finishing it in 5 minutes. When I got half-way done with it, I started feeling really sick. I kept asking the nurse, "How many more minutes do I have left?" Luckily, I perform well under pressure and finished the drink just in the nick of time.

After finishing the drink, I stayed at the doctor's office, getting my blood drawn every hour for three hours. Keep in mind, I haven't eaten for 12 hours. I still can't eat during this 3 hour test, and on top of that, I've just downed a bottle of straight glucose (sugar). I felt so miserable. I had a massive headache, my heart was racing, and I felt like I needed to throw up the entire 3 hours but wouldn't let myself because I knew that if I threw up, I'd have to start over. There was, of course, part of me that wanted to let myself throw up and say, "screw this test." But luckily I held it together. To cope with the pain, I would go outside and just pace back and forth in the parking lot, breathing slowly and deeply. I probably looked like a lost, crazy, pregnant lady. But I didn't care.

Waiting at the doctor's office for my next session of getting my blood drawn
After failing all four tests, I was officially diagnosed with gestational diabetes. They handed me a pamphlet and told me to contact my doctor right away. I left feeling a little bummed, but hopeful. Ammon was at work when I got diagnosed. Here's our text conversation. (Ammon and I finally got smartphones! A gift from his parents for Christmas.)

He always knows just what to say. :)

When I got home, I immediately did two things. One, eat. (finally!!) And two, research. Oh my goodness did I do my research. I researched every single day until I finally saw a dietitian (3 weeks later!!) As I did my research, I became more upset. It was more than just eating healthy. It was counting carbs and eating at certain times of the day and checking my blood sugar. It all seemed so complicated. The thing that made me the most frustrated was not getting to see a dietitian sooner and discussing my numbers and what I needed to do. And not having that little machine that checks my blood sugar. I had to just do my best with what I had. What did I have? This blog, various websites, pinterest, and Ammon's cousin Alli, who is around my age and had gestational diabetes when she was pregnant with her first. I used this information to immediately change my diet and hoped that I was doing it right. 

The reason I couldn't see a dietitian sooner is because when someone finally called me to set up an appointment (I had to call a couple times first), their next soonest spot available just happened to be the week I had SEPs. (I don't exactly love SEPs but I can't just skip out on them. Parents had scheduled appointments with me from beginning to end.) The office isn't open on a Friday and so I had to wait until the Monday after. 

The Sunday before I was scheduled to finally see someone, I found out that my insurance was out of network with the place I had set up my appointment. I could not stop crying from how frustrated I felt. I was torn between going in and just paying out of pocket, or trying to set up another appointment with someone that my insurance did cover and postponing this much needed appointment yet again. I finally decided to just take the hit and go in for my scheduled appointment.

When I finally saw a nurse and a dietitian for my gestational diabetes, I first met with a male nurse. (That's gonna be my husband!) He was super friendly and helpful and he was really impressed with how much I knew. He kept telling me that this was going to be a short meeting because I already knew a lot. The most helpful thing he did was show me how to check my blood sugar, how to record it, and the range I should fall under. 

My range is as follows:
Fasting (when I wake up) 70-95
1 hour after meal 70-140
2 hours after meal 70-120

While waiting for the dietitian, we set some goals together and wrote them down. When it came time to see the dietitian, the nurse introduced me to her by saying, "This is Leah. She is an elementary school teacher, she has done her research and already knows a lot about what to do." That made me feel good! The dietitian was also impressed with how much I knew. She told me that out of everyone she has met with, I was the closest to what I was supposed to be doing. She was an awesome lady. When she found out that I was paying out of pocket, she kept our meeting very brief, answered a few questions I had and told me to call her if I had any further questions because talking over the phone is free. She planned out my carbs for me and reminded me to adjust if I needed to. Here is the carb schedule she gave me:

Breakfast: 30 g
Snack: 15 g
Lunch: 45 g
Afernoon snack: 30 g
Dinner: 45 g
Late night snack right before bed: 30 g

One of the most helpful (and exciting) pieces of information she gave me was that I could subtract fiber!! So if I look at a label and the total carbohydrates are 33 grams and fiber is 5 grams. I can subtract the fiber from the total carbs and it becomes 28 instead of 33! That was exciting news. I told her, "I was wondering what was so great about eating complex carbs! They have just as many carbs as white flour!" Now I know. :)

One thing I asked her was if I could eat ice cream as my bed time snack. I had read on someone's blog that they did that and I wanted to get her opinion. She said, "Oh yeah. Just as long as it fits in your carb range." That was music to my ears. I seriously love ice cream. So to know that I could have it again was just splendid news. 

I left that appointment feeling on cloud 9! All my questions were answered, I had been doing a good job the past few weeks, I could have ice cream again, and the appointment only cost me 120 dollars which is much better than the 300 I was expecting. 

Now that I've officially been at this gestational diabetes thing for two weeks, I feel very blessed. I know that some women have to take medication even though they changed their diet and exercised. I changed my diet and continue to walk around a lot and I am right where I need to be. The only times I've gone over have been after dinner. It was the time I ate at Chick-Fil-A, Kneaders, and the time I ate at Pizza Pie Cafe. In other words, I shouldn't eat out. haha. No, I can, but I need to stick to salads. I also think that the reason my numbers have only been too high after dinner is because I'm hardly on my feet after dinner. Exercise plays a huge part in blood sugar. In fact, when I ate at Chick-Fil-A and measured 131. I started running around my house, doing lunges, jumping jacks and constantly moving. I did this for about 20 minutes. Then I checked my blood sugar again and it was down to 111. 

My blood sugar 2 hours after breakfast today. Right where it needs to be. :)
So that's my story. Now for what I've been eating:

Breakfast: Eggs & Two slices of whole wheat toast
Eggs (0 carbs!!)
2 slices whole wheat toast (22 g)
SOMETIMES a girl scout cookie (9 g) Hey, what can I say? I ordered them before I knew that I had gestational diabetes.
Total carbs: 31

Breakfast: Special K cereal with milk
I have found a cereal that my body does well with. I don't know if it will work well with other people with gestational diabetes but you might as well try! That's what I did and every time I eat it, my numbers are still right where they need to be.

The cereal is called Special K Protein. It is only 19 g of carbs (but I subtract the 3 g of fiber) so 16 g per 3/4 cup. And then milk has a few carbs. I used to measure out this cereal, but now I just eat it for breakfast like I would if I didn't worry about my blood sugar. I eat until I'm fairly full. And I've been lucky. My blood sugar has not been anywhere above 90 when I check it two hours later. I also love eating this cereal for my bed time snack.

Breakfast: Cottage cheese!
I love having cottage cheese for any meal. If I have it for breakfast, it's only 8 g of carbs for 1/2 cup. So I'll usually eat with some fruit and a piece of toast.


Oikos Triple Zero Greek Yogurt (any flavor!) They're exactly 15 g of carbs! And delicious! My favorite flavor is the peach one.

Nature Valley Protein Bars (Also exactly 15 g of carbs.)

Life Choice Protein Bars. These are my favorite because they are 15 g of carbs, but they also have 21 g of protein! I don't get hungry as quickly with these protein bars. They're pretty expensive but worth it to me!

Lunch: Quesedilla & salad
Whole wheat tortilla (20 g carbs)
1/2 cup Refried Beans (about 13 g carbs)
Cheese (0 carbs!)
Romaine lettuce, sliced carrots & spinach (Less than 5 g carbs so I don't have to count it)
10 croutons (about 1 g carb each so 10 total)
Olive Garden lite dressing (about 1 g carb)
Total Carbs: 44 g 

For lunch, I will also eat leftovers from dinner. I love having a fridge in my classroom.

Dinner: Pancakes with nutella, bananas, strawberries and a little whip cream
I am in LOVE with these pancakes. The recipe calls for almond meal instead of flour. What I'll do is make a whole batch of them and then use them throughout the week. I don't share them with Ammon because almond meal is EXPENSIVE! :) Ammon's mom is so sweet and bought me a whole bag of it from Costco when she was in town. Each pancake is only 5 g of carbs! And very filling! That leaves room for delicious toppings! Including Nutella!!

3 almond meal pancakes (15 g)
1 Tbs. Nutella (5 g)
half a banana (15 g)
5 strawberries (10 g)
Whip cream (< 1 g)
Total carbs: 45

Dinner: Turkey burger
2 slices whole wheat Saralee bread. (22 g)
Turkey burger (0 g)
Lettuce/tomato (less than 5 g so I don't count them)
Mustard/Mayo (< 1 g)
Salad with croutons (10 g from the croutons)
Total carbs: 35 g 

I love having turkey burgers because they are filling and have hardly any carbs. That leaves room for a few fries on the side, a banana (which I hardly have these days), a girl scout cookie, or a piece of licorice.

For dinner, I also love having eggs, turkey sausage, and whole wheat toast.

One more thing: I eat cheese in between meals. It doesn't have any carbs and it helps fill me up until the next meal if I start to feel hungry. 

Here's my schedule in a nutshell:

Wake up at 7 a.m. Pee in a cup. Check my keytones and write it down.
Check my fasting blood sugar and write it down.
Eat breakfast at 7:30 a.m. (30 g)
Check my blood sugar at 9:30 a.m. and write it down.
Eat a snack right after checking my blood sugar. (15 g)
Eat lunch at 11:30-12:00. (45 g)
Check my blood sugar at 2:00 p.m. and write it down
Eat a snack at 3:00 pm. (right after school gets out) (30 g)
Eat another snack at 5:00 p.m. (i'm usually still at the school planning.) (15 g)
Eat dinner at 7:00 p.m. (45 g)
Check blood sugar at 9:00 p.m. and write it down.
Eat a bed time snack right before I go to bed. (30 g)

So that's my gestational diabetes story and a little bit of what I've been eating. It's not too bad at all. I have never been this motivated to make new meals and turn away treats. For Valentine's Day, I didn't eat a single treat the students gave me. I have turned down cookies, brownies, and cupcakes at work. At first I hated it, but now I feel empowered.


  1. I am so impressed with how well you've done! That's my girl!

  2. I knew it. I am so proud of you, Leah, for sticking with the program and keeping your numbers down. So this is just for when you are pregnant, right? Once you have Lily you won't have the diabetes? I love you and look forward to your baby shower next week. See ya!

  3. I am so impressed with how well you've done! That's my girl!

  4. I so proud of you and your courage!! You are amazing and already have the amazingness of momma. If there was anyone get gestational diabetes and take it head on, it would be you!! I love you, let's talk soon, please?!?

  5. Wow this was so interesting to read! I am so sorry you have this extra stress, but you seem to be dealing with it very well. Best of luck in continuing, and all this work will be more than worth it for your sweet little one (yay!) :)

  6. Boy, what an epoch! Thank goodness it is only during pregnancy and not after the baby. Right? My only problem with my pregnancies was pre-eclampsia with Laura the last month of pregnancy. Each pregnancy is different. You can count on that.

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