Last week I posted my first post in my Operation: Weight-Off series, titled Gestational Diabetes: The Diagnosis. Getting that diagnosis and the fear and stress that comes from it is absolutely real and understandable, but it’s the power to do something about it that’s really important.
I remember getting the news from my doctor/midwife right before the christmas holidays just as I was walking out the door to boot. I told you last week that according to her rules, I grabbed a mandarin orange and a handful of almonds as I ran out to the car. I can’t remember where we were going at the time, but I do remember being afraid.
My mind whirled over the meal possibilities and I was coming up blank. I slowly savoured the orange and almonds because I didn’t know what I was gonna eat next, but I knew I had to stick to the rules. My unborn child was counting on me after all. Feeling hungry and upset, the only answer I could come up with was a Subway salad since we were out. It wasn’t satisfying in the least and I still didn’t know what I was gonna eat after that! This went on for a week, not knowing from meal to meal what I could eat, until I finally got the hang of it.
My diet was certainly not culinary magic, but it got me through 4 1/2 months of pregnancy. As I embark on this sugar-free lifestyle again, permanently, I hope that I can vary things a bit and keep it interesting.
Let’s start with the rules first:
1. No sugar. Period. I’m not kidding.
2. No fruit juice.
3. Absolutely no white flour of any kind.
4. A maximum of 2 servings of fruit/day but only when accompanied by a handful of nuts.
5. Protein with every meal.
6. 1 cup of beans/lentils every day.
7. 6 small sized meals spreadout through the day, including a late evening snack before bed.
Let me go over each rule in a little more detail now:
1. No sugar.
This seems like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised what the hospital diabetes counselling program will tell you. I went only because my doctor felt that it was an ethical conflict to give me the diabetes counselling herself since I was also her patient. I attended the session and only gleamed one useful tip — and that was the number of carbs to eat per meal. It wasn’t something I strictly followed, but in the early days it gave me a guideline to work with (15-30g morning, 30-45g lunch, 30-45g dinner and 15-30g for snacks. One piece of bread/half a muffin/one slice of pizza =’s 15g of carbs) According to this hospital program I could add a teaspoon of sugar to my morning coffee as it was within the 15-30g’s of carbs allotted for breakfast. Grrrrreat, I’m gonna eat a teaspoon of sugar as my morning meal. Sure this works mathematically, but physilogically and emtionally you’re setting yourself up for failure. By God man, no sugar!
2. No fruit juice.
This seems pretty obvious, too, but hospital nutriontists will tell you it’s okay. I think I read somewhere that you should never drink your calories. Even if the sugar in the juice wasn’t enough to skyrocket your blood/sugar levels, why would you waste your calories on a drink? It’s not very satisfying.
3. No white flour.
These top three rules are the hardest — the restrictions. And you will quickly find out when you start looking at restaurant menus or recipes you may have that everything is made with white flour. Even when it doesn’t look white, it’s made with white flour. There are alternatives out there, so keep faith!
4. A maximum of 2 servings of fruit/day accompanied with nuts.
The nuts act as a protein and essential fatty acid that help balance the blood sugar. You’ll actually appreciate this rule when you realize how good fruits and nuts go together. I did push the limit of this rule a bit, by having more than 2 servings but only with fruits that were low on the Glycemic Index. Like strawberries with homemade granola. Yummo!
5. Protein at every meal.
Being a vegetarian, this rule was one of the hardest — at first. But the protein is essential to keeping you full and your blood sugar low. I think one of the hardest challenges to overcome being a vegetarian who has never been big on eating proteins is feeling satisfied without the piece of bread with each meal. It was a psychological obstacle that over time I broke, but I easily revert into that mentality when I’m not actively telling myself I don’t need it. This is where the protein comes in and until you get your body used to the protein being the focal point and not the carbs, it’s a bit of a battle. PMS has nothing on carb-withdrawal 😉
6. One cup of lentils/beans a day.
This was one of my favorite rules because it was how I got my protein in as well. And there was something magically about the beans — LOL, I know I sound hoaky about this, but here me out. When I ate my lentils/beans earlier in the day (I could eat more than a cup of beans easily!) my blood sugars were more balanced throughout the day and I felt better. When I didn’t have the beans my blood sugar was harder to control. Not that I was ever over my limtis, but they just weren’t as good as they should have been. Since I started this diet almost 2 years ago we’ve had a constant supply of organic canned black beans on hand no matter what. Can’t live without the beans!
7. Six small meals with a bedtime snack.
You’d think this would be easy. It really isn’t. Being a busy mom, I’ll be lucky if I can get in a decent breakfast and eat again before 5pm. It’s just hard to remember to do, but you need to keep a steady stream of good stuff in your body instead of allowing your blood sugar to drop off and then spike when you finally get food into your system. Hence the bedtime snack…by eating a good nutritious bed time snack, the number of hours you’re fasting through the night is a little less. Therefore your breakfast isn’t gonna spike your blood sugar as bad as if you hadn’t eaten anything since dinner time.
And that’s basically it. Next week I’m gonna cover some meal ideas and give you some examples of what I ate. Hopefully this past week has been good to you and you’ve been good to yourself.
If you’re following along, and feel like sharing your thoughts/questions/highs & lows, please leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!