I wanted to post a bit…

I wanted to post a bit about the gestational diabetes and the low-carb diet they've put me on, which I've found interesting. A bit of background -- they have me prick my finger to check glucose levels four times a day, once fasting first thing in the morning, then two hours after every meal. Then they want me to eat six times a day, with these limits:

  • Breakfast: 30 carbs
  • Snack: 15 carbs
  • Lunch: 60 carbs (according to dietician); 45 carbs (according to GD nurse)
  • Snack: 15 carbs
  • Dinner: 45 carbs
  • Snack: 15 carbs
Those are limits, but I'm also not supposed to go too far below them either -- too few carbs is a different unhealthy problem. So figure a 5-10 carb range on each of those -- breakfast is actually 20-30 carbs, for example. No skipping snacks or meals!

One thing that's surprised me is how many carbs there are in what I think of as low-sugar foods. I.e., plenty of snacks made with Splenda still have quite a few carbs. Of all the power bar / snack bar-type things, the only brand with about 15 carbs is one called "Kind", and even that, only a few of their bars qualify. Most are 30-50 carbs! And I thought snacks like beef or turkey jerky would be no carb, but in fact, they're more like 6 carbs/serving; I guess there's some sweetness in the sauces they cook them in? So while my calorie-counting memories are vaguely useful in sending me in the right direction, I still have to actually check carb counts on a lot of things. Avocadoes, for example, are not only high in fats (which I knew, and they're 'good' fats), but also high in carbs. Mushrooms, on the other hand, are close to free. Yummy mushrooms! Nonfat milk is higher in carbs than 2% or whole milk, weird! The internet's been really helpful in figuring this stuff out.

Restaurant eating is also almost impossible. The big chains tell you exactly how many carbs are in things, and usually have at least a few low-carb options, especially if you're willing to eat salads or wrap sandwiches. But the couple of times I've tried eating at regular restaurants, and tried to pick low-carb options, my sugars were through the roof afterwards. I guess they just sneak a lot of carbs into sauces and the like. The only thing that's proven relatively safe at restaurants so far is a chicken caesar salad, if you leave off the croutons. This is not my favorite dish ever, so I think I'm just going to try to minimize eating out in the next two months. Which is tricky when meeting Lori to work in cafes. Sigh.

Also my standard cafe chai is just too carb-loaded for the moment. Instead, I'm having regular tea with milk and Splenda at cafes, which is okay, but not as satisfying. Also doesn't help with all the dairy I'm supposed to be getting -- in addition to limiting carbs, I have guidelines on how much dairy, fruit, veg, etc. I'm supposed to have each day, and dairy in particular I was pretty lacking in before. So lots of cottage cheese and some regular cheese and even some of Eli's low-sugar cheesecake (19 carbs/serving) is making its way into my days. I don't actually like drinking milk, which is too bad. Also don't like yogurt unless it's either sweetened or loaded with berries, which, again, are high-carb and only to be consumed in moderation. So this is all taking some thinking and planning.

Still, my food days are falling into a pattern, which looks something like this:

  • breakfast: 1 slice bread, egg, slice of bacon

  • snack: cottage cheese and a bit of berries

  • lunch: usually either a sandwich with meat and toppings (but watch out for sweetened spreads, like miracle whip or ketchup), either on low-carb bread so I can have two slices, or if at a cafe, just eating one slice of the bread it's served on, or a big salad loaded with meat and cheese

  • snack: Kind apricot-macadamia bar (also going to try carrot sticks with hummus this week)

  • dinner: whatever Daniel and Anne are cooking; since Anne is a doctor, she's really aware of what's in food, and is trying hard to provide low-carb options for me, which is a huge help. A chicken stew with a small amount of quinoa (low carb grain, yummy); cold tomato-vegetable gazpacho with a quarter avocado, sliced, and some fresh mozzarella, and even a bit of french bread. Sometimes with a bit of berry or a single small piece of dark chocolate (much lower-carb than milk chocolate) at the end.

  • snack: slice of Eli's low-sugar cheesecake :-)

I'm obviously not doing this for weight loss, and to be honest, I'm a bit worried about losing too much weight at this stage of the pregnancy. Normally, they want women to gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. But for someone who's already overweight like me, they want you to gain 15-25 pounds over the whole pregnancy, with 7-10 pounds during the third trimester, or about 1/2 - 1 pound per week. I'd gained 18 pounds as of last week, when I started carb counting, at 30 weeks gestation, so I was reasonably within weight gain parameters. This past week of carb counting (and eating quite a lot of meat whenever I was hungry), I've actually lost 2 pounds.

The doctor said this was okay, so I'm trying not to fret about it; my understanding is that the baby will mostly take what it needs, if I'm not actually starving. Of course, it'll take it from my body, so that if, for example, I don't get enough calcium, the baby will start leaching calcium from my bones, which is not so good. If I could have the baby just target my extraneous fat, that would be fine and dandy, but apparently, it doesn't actually work that way. Pfui.

In any case, I don't have a lot of options at the moment -- I'll keep doing this low-carb thing and hope that as my body adjust I'll go back to gaining a bit of weight over the next nine weeks...or at least not losing much more. It's very weird, mentally, to be worried about losing too much weight. I don't think I've ever in my life been worried about that.

4 thoughts on “I wanted to post a bit…”

  1. Random suggestion – I have trouble eating enough dairy too (for calcium, in my case), and I also don’t like milk or yogurt much. If adding fruit isn’t allowed, what about something savory? I sometimes mix diced/grated cucumbers and cumin into plain yogurt, for a simple raita. Do cucumbers have carbs? If so, even just adding some curry spices might be tasty.

    Perhaps the whole purpose of the diabetes is to give you something to focus on besides the house stuff 🙂 Sending good wishes your way for all of it.

  2. Gosh, how terrible to have to be thinking so much about every little detail of eating!! Yes, I just heard a talk from a chef who was adding sugar to the salsa he was making, saying it adds “depth” to the food and also allows you to add more salt (!!) — I guess that’s something they do to all the sauces in restaurants to make everything taste extraspecial. Who knew.

    Anyway good for you for doing all the research and figuring it out step by step. Good luck and stay well…

  3. Just out of curiosity, have you tried Greek yogurt? I can’t eat regular yogurt without a lot of sweetener, but for some reason, I have better luck with Greek yogurt. If you can believe the label, Oikos vanilla yogurt from Stonyfield Farm only has 12 g of carbs per 5.3 oz container, and I like it a lot. I can even eat plain Greek yogurt with a little lemon juice, mint, and dill, which I definitely couldn’t do with regular yogurt.

    Good luck with the carb-counting!

  4. Maryanne, I’ll call you when I get a chance but I have 3 client meetings in 24 hours and an “emergency” analysis request. Sigh. A few memories from my GD days:

    1) cashews w/ cutup banana w/ light drizzle choc syrup. Tastes like dessert. Nice at nighttime.

    2) celery w/ peanut butter. Except do you like peanut butter? Or celery?

    3) Couple slices of cheese w/ 3-4 wheaty/seedy crackers. Most satisfying.

    4) dried apricots w/ nuts w/ 1 sq 80% dark chocolate

    5) when you’re feeling grumpy: starbucks children’s hot chocolate no whipped cream

    1) bulk sausage cooked w/ potatoes (or obrien potatoes) w/ a bit of fruit

    2) oatmeal bread w/ peanut butter. maybe w/ fruit

    3) bacon! You can eat lots of bacon! You can’t possibly worry about cholesterol when you’re worrying about weight loss and GD!

    1) you can eat more melon than other fruits. Watermelon, here you come!

    2) low carb tortillas work pretty good

    3) for occasional small splurges: quizno’s classic italian subs – small

    4) adding fat tends to make blood sugars go up which is why most the food in restaurants doesn’t work. If they’re not adding sugar, they’re adding a lot of fat.

    Hang in there. You get used to it. A bit bored, but used to it.

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