How to Manage a Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis
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Take a look at info on advanced maternal age, and gestational diabetes shows up very quickly as a possible complication to be aware of. You know you’ll have to endure that awful drink to take the test, and you’re hoping it comes back negative. (If you need some guidance on questions for your doctor about Advanced Maternal Age, grab my free printable PDF to take on your first visit).
And it did just that for me with my pregnancies in my younger years. But, not so lucky in my 40’s.
So after I received my diagnosis and had my “counseling session” with the nutritionist and nurse who taught me how to test my blood, I had to adjust to the realities of a surprise late-in-life pregnancy and realize it wouldn’t be as easy as my earlier ones.
There are lots of resources out there for managing the physical symptoms of gestational diabetes and your healthcare provider will send you home with lots of reading materials on the subject. I’m not a dietitian or a healthcare expert, so I’m going to suggest you check with those people who are about the actual diet you should follow.
And when you go to find those resources, make sure you are getting your information from people who are qualified. I had gestational diabetes, but that doesn’t make me qualified to give you nutritional advice on how to manage it. It’s too important to trust to just anyone.
What I want to share are tips on mentally and emotionally dealing with a change in your health status during this time. Pregnancy is complicated and for an older mom it can be even more so, in so many ways.
So here are a few tips to help you find a way to handle a gestational diabetes diagnosis.
Take the diagnosis seriously
We hear the word diabetes (or, dia-bee-tus, said in a way that makes us laugh) so often that I think we forget the seriousness of the disease.
And with gestational diabetes, we’re not only dealing with our own health, but that of our unborn baby. We don’t drink or smoke (hopefully!) during pregnancy because of the risks to the baby. We have to do the same with our diet if we have this diagnosis.
One thing I struggled with was consistently knowing exactly where my blood sugar numbers had been as I’m not good with keeping myself organized. A tracking app or planner, such as the one shown here, can help you know where your numbers are over periods of time and help you see any patterns you need to be aware of. Find the tools you need to help you stay on top of this condition and ensure you’re taking care of yourself and your baby.
Managing gestational diabetes will take willpower
Bread, the best thing whether sliced or not. I just returned from a trip to Spain where buying bread, “pan,” is part of their daily routine. Think of the foods of a variety of cultures off the top of your head and chances are you can think of the carb they consume in some form of bread.
When you’re told to limit carbs, big hunks of crunchy, crusty bread alongside a bowl of pasta is off your menu. And to do this, it takes willpower.
If you don’t have a lot of that, which I readily admit I don’t, you have to set up your guardrails to keep you on the straight and narrow.
You have to be prepared
Do not, I repeat, do not get caught without your snacks prepared. Do not stop at a convenience store when you’re hungry and expect yourself to make good decisions. You might, but you might not.
You need to implement a strategy that ensures you’ve shopped strategically and you have the foods you need easily available to stay on track with your diet.
Find the treats that will help your cravings
Can you be good 24/7? If you can, you’re a better person than I am.
If you can’t, figure out what your healthy, go to treat is going to be and have it around. Don’t wait until a craving hits you and you’re not stocked up with a snack that will satisfy you.
In the first few days after you’ve started your new eating routine, you’ll have an idea what you’re going to need to assuage you when the urge to snack hits. As soon as you know what you’re going to need to get through those moments, go to the store and stock up.
Implement exercise you will actually do
Your healthcare provider will talk to you about the exercise that is appropriate for you in your situation. Find the way to exercise that you enjoy the most so that you will stick with it. Period.
Make cooking a time of experimentation and fun
There are recipes galore on Pinterest and the internet to make creative meals. Even if you’re not a cooking enthusiast, pick out a few that sounds especially tasty and give them a try. If you have a partner who enjoys cooking, make this a time together to experiment with something new.
Have fun with your menus. Don’t just make a plain chicken breast and frozen veggies. That’s fine and has its place. But when you have time, use this as an opportunity to add some new dishes to your repertoire. Treat yourself to a cookbook designed for gestational diabetes because these types of recipes will help you stay healthy even after you deliver.
Know that you’ll get used to this new way of eating
Any time we make changes in any part of our lives, the first couple of weeks is always the toughest. You may say to yourself, “there’s no way I can live without donuts.”
But you will get used to it, and the farther you get into the healthy routine, the more those cravings will decrease.
I remember one meal when I said to my husband, “I wish I could have bread, but I’m actually just fine without it.” What?! Who was that person? I can’t imagine saying that now, but I did then because I had acclimated to my new diet and was feeling great.
You’ll get used to the changes you have to make and may even grow to appreciate the new way of eating and want to stick with it.
Just remember, every woman who gets the diagnosis of gestational diabetes has to make the same adjustments. You’re as strong as they are and you can do this.
Enlist your supports and work your plan. Don’t leave managing this to chance. The more prepared you are, the better you’ll handle it all.
And the happier you’ll be. Isn’t that what we want, pregnant or not?
Focus on keeping your baby healthy and that will give you the additional motivation to stick with an eating routine that you might struggle with more if it were for just you.
It’s not like any diet you’ve ever been on. Those were just for you.
This one is for you and a precious someone else.
If you’ve had a diagnosis of gestational diabetes and have some hints that have helped you, please leave them in the comments. It’s always helpful to hear from others who have been in the same situation.