Gestational diabetes, medically referred to by practitioners as GDM, refers to diabetes in pregnancy due to a high level of blood sugar. This is caused by the changing hormones produced in the placenta that inhibits the production of adequate insulin, thus affecting the effective breakdown of sugars in the body. While it is a temporary condition, precautions need to be made to lifestyle and diet in order to keep GDM under control.
Why do we need to take precautions to lifestyle and diet?
While GDM doesn’t affect the pregnant mother much, it could potentially do harm to the unborn child. Gaining too much weight during pregnancy may cause the baby to put on bulk at the torso area. This could lead to difficulty during normal childbirth (baby gets stuck at the birth canal during delivery because his body is not proportionate in growth). Also, babies whose mothers have GDM who are just delivered have a high chance of getting hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) because his body would have been used to producing more insulin to tackle the larger than usual volumes of sugar given to him during pregnancy. This becomes dangerous when the glucose source (through the umbilical cord) is cut at birth and the excess insulin leads to hypoglycaemia.
For the mother, she faces a 50% risk of developing type 2 diabetes within the next decade following the delivery of her baby. She would need to keep her health in constant check in order to lead a normal lifestyle.
Well, the OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test) taken at week 28 certainly was the turning point in my rather smooth pregnancy. I was found to have a blood glucose result of 9.7mmol, way above the 7.7mmol ‘passing’ mark. I kinda ‘got away’ from this sticky situation 3 years ago when I did OGTT, because I had threw up over the solution so badly, my gynae decided to drop the idea of a retest totally.
Ok, so my new diagnosis confined my diet to a whole new arena! Congratulations, I told myself, you made it! I was silently cursing myself for stuffing 3 thick slices of cake prior to the 12mn cut off time to the start of my fast, just because I was craving some sweet snack. Maybe that caused the readings to be inaccurate, I thought… Well, anyway.
Dr Tham, my gynae, adviced me to go on a strict non-sugar diet and one with little amounts of oil as well. He presented me a long list of ‘eats’ and ‘do not eat’. Highlights of the ‘do not eat’ were DURIANS (there goes my ultimate weight gain food.. :() , ALL yellow noodles (ban mee, mee pok etc), all food that has coconut content (nasi lemak and yummy Malay food), prata (thankfully I’ve curbed this temptation) and ALL FAST FOOD (I was just craving to have a meal of KFC after the consultation). Worse, I had to start the diet with immediate effect and be diligent with it, lest the blood sugar levels go haywire and I need to be on insulin jabs. No way, I told myself.
I had to report my blood glucose levels to Dr Tham over 2 days in the following fortnight so he could ascertain if the diet did work on me. Thankfully it did, phew, and I needn’t do any insulin jabs to stabilise my diabetes. Thank God, that’s some financial burden off my mind. Imagine having to buy these jabs and start jabbing myself everyday for 3 months?!
Adjusting to the new diet was an uphill challenge but a rewarding one. I found my mass to have stabilised and increased very gradually even at 7 months of pregnancy, just a month later. Now, at the end of 35 weeks, it has gone up to 7 kg from pre-pregnancy weight, just about the same rate as the time I was carrying J. Deliberately leaving out sugary items in my diet was painful but beneficial to both my health and the Baby’s health. It rubbed on within my family too, as I had to resort to preparing more home-cooked meals due to the restrictions. These few months, I’ve been experimenting on healthy yet tasty food and the journey has been really rewarding. My Hubby and J liked most of the food prepared and we ended up feeling healthier. We saved quite a bit of money by eating in on most days too and of course, our bodies had less MSG build-up.
I had to switch my frequency of meals from the usual 3 main ones to 6 small ones. A typical day’s meal would be something like this…
Breakfast: 2 slices wholemeal bread (I sneak some butter and peanut butter in), a glass of plain fresh milk, a slice of cheese
Morning snack: A glass of plain fresh milk, a packet of wholemeal crackers (3 pieces)
Lunch: Economical rice from kopitiam (less rice, 2 veg, 1 meat), a serving of fruit. Well sometimes, there is the occasional treat, but still falling under the list of restricted foods.
Mid-afternoon snack: Yoghurt (fruity, but later found it too sweet, so changed to Greek) with plain organic raisins
Dinner: Mixed brown and white rice, soup with meat and vegetables, a serving of fruit
Supper: A glass of plain fresh milk, a packet of wholemeal crackers (3 pieces)
So far, I’ve been surviving on this diet on 90% of the days, rather healthy. 🙂 I’ve lost all my cellulite too! Though it seemed like a curse, I’ve learnt to be thankful to be living a healthy lifestyle during the last trimester of my pregnancy, giving the best of nutrition to myself and the Baby. I saw it as a blessing in disguise, that I have good excuse to refuse sweetened foods and especially during the upcoming Chinese New Year. Cravings wise, the sweet tooth is still there, and I look longingly into cake shops and noodle shops rather regularly… Haha! For that, I will not give in to temptation. With just 5 more weeks to giving birth, God will give the strength. I’m determined to continue this for one more month and do it well too. Enjoyment can wait… As my Hubby always say, ‘What’s the hurry to get fat?’