When I first found out I had gestational diabetes, I spent a remarkable time on the internet trying to figure out what on earth I would now eat. I had this meal plan that included numbers of carbs and protein, but I struggled to try to picture what “breakfast” would look like or what exactly a snack with so-many carbohydrates and a source of protein could be that wouldn’t sound gross right before going to bed. I was really grateful for this post that showed what real food could actually look like! Of course, follow your actual doctor or dietian’s instructions rather than me (aka, some chick on the internet). But thought it might be helpful to pass along what has helped me!

A few things I have learned along the way:

It takes a while to figure out what works: I had to work through three or four different kinds of breakfast before I found one that worked for me on a regular basis. Later on, I realized that some things that worked initially needed to change as my sensitivity increased. It was hard to be patient along the way, but if possible be gentle on yourself.

Technology helps! If it wasn’t for my hour-long timer on my phone, i would never remember to test blood sugar. This is actually true, because those times I say “oh, I’ll test right when I do such-and-such” instead, I invariably forget. It was a real help when I stopped trying to remember times in my head and trust my phone to remind me. I also strongly recommend a food scale to help with measurements. There are some foods that are hard to count for carbs, and the scale makes it much easier! 

Finding the happy balance between “easy to count,” “easy,” and “actual food that has nutrition.” It took me a while to figure out exactly how much work I could put in on a regular basis for food preparation. Originally, I made chicken breast sandwiches for lunch that required thinking and cooking ahead. That lasted about a week. I found that “good lunchmeat that I microwave past the temp limit” was about as much work that I could put in to put a lunch together. I decided I could wash things and count, but was unlikely to have pre-sliced vegetables to go with hummus. I could microwave an egg each morning, which for some reason seemed more possible than anything that involved a pan. You may fall on a different end of the “I can work to make food” scale, and figure out what works.

A whole lot of ways to count to 15 carbohydrates: Life became much easier when I could figure out a whole lot of things to have in the house every week that I could add together to make a snack or get a meal up to a certain number of carbs. Here in August, I would fill up the fridge with many types of fruit–berries for earlier in the week, stone fruits or apples for later on. Carrots or milk have worked well for me as toppers if I need a few more carbohydrates in a meal. Having a variety of healthy carbohydrates in the house helped to piece meals together with a bit more variety.

When you exercise matters: This is one of those things that they told me in my initial interview, but I didn’t appreciate until later on. It makes a huge difference if I walk between eating and testing blood sugars, or even if I spend 10-20 minutes just on my feet. (I guess at this stage of pregnancy, standing counts as exercise.) There are very few things that I can eat that will not leave me with high sugar if am seated for the full hour afterwards. The other realization for me has been that when they say “manage with diet and exercise,” is that exercise at other times of day than that key hour can actually hurt. If I have a big exhausting activity in mid-afternoon, I have to be careful that I won’t be too tired to walk around after dinner or make over-the-top food choices. For me, I’ve also noticed that in extreme heat especially, exercise can actually spike my sugars. They say stress levels can increase blood sugar, but just something to look at if you too are “very pregnant in the middle of summer”

And without further ado, the food!

Breakfast

After MUCH trial and error (sprouted grain toast and peanut butter, oatmeal with fruit, oatmeal with yogurt and fruit, yogurt and fruit and granola all managed to push me over my blood sugar levels), I have ended up with an egg on toasted thin bread. As thin bread has less than the 30 carbs I’m supposed to have for breakfast, I have an awful lot of milk in decaf coffee, which I then call a latte ;-). I microwave the egg in a cup, because I am lazy. 

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Snacks

For my plan, I need to eat 15 grams of carbs plus protein several times a day between meals. Most of the time, have one of those 15 grams of fruit with a mozzarella stick. Or crackers and peanut butter. Or most recently if I’m home, “a strategic amount of full fat vanilla ice cream with almonds.” But I wanted to share especially my two “buy it at the store and throw it in my purse” options. Needing to snack so frequently, I was surprised about how few prepackaged options fit the bill–and after frustratingly checking labels these are the two I have lived on for the last many weeks

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Trader Joe’s Omega Trek Mix: 14 grams of carbs, lots of nuts, doesn’t melt in your purse–winner!

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Kind bar–Dark Chocolate, Nuts and Sea Salt: 16 grams of carbs, which is a hair high, but close enough, and really the only bar I found that did. It is tasty, I can pronounce all the ingredients, and although it gets melty in hot weather–shouldn’t something that claims to be chocolate get melty? I eat these a lot. 

Lunch

For lunch, I have discovered a routine– it’s turkey sandwich plus “whatever carb sounds good.” Needing to pack a lunch has limited some options, but having a variety of fruits and veggies around has helped. 

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Dinner

For us in the summer, dinner usually involves “putting something on the grill.” I have pretty much just gotten a variety of proteins that can be grilled over the course of the week, we make one, and then I add on whatever sounds good from my “great carb collection.” For dinner, I need to be especially careful when I try to eat something with a bun: they can surprise me, even when small, by their carb count.  When we go out to dinner, I’ve had luck with quesadillas, nachos where I count the number of chips I eat along the way, sandwiches where I request whole wheat bread and sometimes leave some bread behind, salads–providing I can find enough carbs in the meal, and burgers where I eat part of the bun and request a salad instead of fries. 

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Drinks

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My high recommendations for plain soda water with a slice of lime. Preferably in a fancy glass. I have ordered this in restaurants everywhere we have gone, and mostly judge based on what kind of glass they serve. 

Evening Snack

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I pretty much always eat a cracker and peanut butter and greek yogurt. In the summer, I’ve found it hard to find things to eat before bed that sound appealing, but this has fit the bill between “not too filling” and works with the schedule.

 

So there you have it, everything I have eaten for the last 10 weeks or so. This has both been easier and harder than I have thought it would be–so if you are starting off and feeling overwhelmed, know it will get better. You will figure out what works for you. And I am grateful both to be aware of my long-term risks, and that this short term higher-ristriction time will soon be over!

 

 

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