Want to know the most stressful thing that happened to me during my recent pregnancy? Being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes.
Of course, like most things in life that feel like the ‘end of the world’ at the time, it turned out to be a HUGE blessing. On three levels.
First, it’s forced me to overcome my fear of needles. Testing your blood sugar 4 times a day will do that.
Second, it helped me understand why I gained a crazy amount of weight during my first pregnancy. (Hello 20kg / 40lb) So much that I had lots of strangers asking me if I was having twins towards the end.
Third, it really gave me a first hand understanding of how different foods influence my blood sugar levels.
So today I thought I’d share some of the more surprising revelations I’ve had over the last 6-odd months of testing my blood sugar first thing in the morning and then again after (almost) every meal…
6 Surprising Lessons from Monitoring my Blood Sugar Levels
1. Eating low carb makes a huge difference to weight gain during pregnancy.
During pregnancy the placenta puts out chemicals which decrease the effectiveness of insulin which means your blood sugar is naturally higher (to feed the baby). So when you eat carbs during pregnancy you end up with a bigger spike in your blood sugar than you would normally get which leads to more weight gain.
This is why eating low carb during pregnancy makes a huge difference. I ended up 6kg (12lb) lighter at the end of this pregnancy compared with my first. And the only change I made was to be (mostly) low carb and monitor my blood sugar.
2. The effects of a high carb meals last a long time.
This really surprised me but having a higher carb meal in the evening would mean my fasting blood sugar levels the next morning were higher than normal as well.
3. Low GI foods still increase blood sugar.
Just because a food is considered to be low GI doesn’t mean it won’t cause a spike. The spike just won’t be as big as with higher GI food.
4. It is possible to make delicious, low carb AND sugar-free sweet treats.
When faced with no alternative I really got into baking with stevia during this pregnancy. The secret I’ve found is to use a pure stevia powder instead of stevia mixed with sugar alcohols like Natvia. I like the powdered form because I found it doesn’t have the aftertaste or gritty texture of Natvia. It can be a little tricky to convert recipes but mostly they turned out fine.
I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a low-carb / sugar-free / gluten-free baking book. If that’s something you’d be interested in let me know! Either in the comments below or shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Speed of eating makes a difference.
I had a few long restaurant meals where I didn’t worry about carbs (a girl has to have some fun) and was surprised that my blood sugar was fine after the long leisurely lunches and dinners Phew.
6. Quantity makes a HUGE difference.
I was reminded on a few occasions having a few bites of dessert or pizza isn’t going to wreak havoc. Little indulgences here and there are fine. And I found I enjoyed them even more than normal because there was the element of the ‘forbidden’.
Where to from here?
Given the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes is super high in women who have had gestational diabetes, I’m on a mission to avoid that fate.
So the plan is to stay (pretty much) low carb / high fat. Same as during my pregnancy but not quite as strict. And make sure I get enough exercise. For now that’s trying to do my 10000 steps every day. But longer term I’m planning to get back into running.
It’s amazing how only a few days after the birth, my blood sugar levels decreased. I’ve also noticed that I’m less sensitive to carbs than I was during pregnancy.
Will keep you posted…
Egg Noodle ‘Pad Thai’
Pad Thai is probably the most famous Thai noodle dish which I absolutely adore. Unfortunately it’s traditionally made using rice noodles which are delicious but very high GI. Fortunately I’ve found an alternative, inspired by Sydney paleo chef Pete Evans… Make ‘noodles’ using eggs so they’re super filling, blood sugar-friendly and delicious. Win win win!
enough for: 2
takes: 20 minutes
1 tablespoon soy sauce for eggs & 2 tablespoons for dressing
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
handful bean sprouts and/OR 1 bunch coriander (cilantro) (chopped)
handful roasted peanuts
1. Stir egg and 1 tablespoon soy sauce together in a medium bowl.
2. To make the noodles, heat a medium frying pan on a medium high heat. Add enough egg mixture to cover the base of the pan. About 1/4 – 1/3.
3. Cook your egg ‘pancake’ until mostly set, then turn and cook on the other side for 30 seconds or until cooked through. Remove ‘pancake’ from the pan and place on a clean plate.
4. Repeat with the remaining mixture until you end up with 3-4 ‘pancakes’.
5. Stack the pancakes up and roll into a log. Slice into ribbons as fine as you can be bothered.
6. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, ketchup and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium bowl. Toss in egg ‘noodles’, beansprouts (if using), coriander (if using) and peanuts and serve.
sugar-free – use 1 tablespoon tomato puree instead of the ketchup. Or a handful of halved cherry tomatoes.
nut-free – replace with shredded cooked chicken.
carb lovers / more substantial – cook rice noodles according to the packet and toss in at the end. Or serve with steamed rice.
more veg – toss in finely sliced carrot, red capsicum, snow peas and/or mint leaves.
ps. Are you interested in low carb / sugar-free baking?
If you’d definitely want to buy a Stonesoup healthy baking book, do let me know in the comments below. Or via email email@example.com. It’s an idea I’m excited about but I only want to do it if there’s enough other people excited about it too!