“That which doesn’t kill us, only makes us stronger.”
Being a dancer I think I have heard about every imaginable diet out there. The crazy cabbage diet, Atkins, juice/liquids only, only chips and salsa (I kid you not), I even heard of someone picking up smoking and drinking coffee just to curb their appetite (wowzers, talk about a double edged sword). But nothing could prepare me for the worst diet ever!!
Most of us have been on at least one diet in our lifetime. Some of us maybe a different diet every year, every few months, maybe even every week. I’m not here to judge or to claim I know everything there is to know about nutrition, but I will tell you about the worst diet ever that I had to go on and I hope non of you will have to experience it (but if you do, I am here to help).
I had waited all my life to find my prince, get married and have a family of our own. The second we found out we were pregnant I was ecstatic. I planned out the nursery, the maternity photos, we picked a name and that was all within the first few weeks! Haha! What I didn’t plan for was the results of a test that most pregnant women dread…the glucose test.
For those of you not familiar the glucose test it is to see if you have gestational diabetes. You have your blood drawn after fasting all morning, drink a super sugary drink, wait one hour, have another blood draw, wait one more hour and have another blood draw (every doctor seems to have slightly different rules, but this was what my doctor required). For some reason the hormones in some women’s bodies during pregnancy causes them to not be able to keep their glucose levels at normal/healthy levels for the baby. Some are able to control their glucose with a strict diet and exercise plan; others have to go on medication.
Well, as you can probably guess, my test came back positive; I had gestational diabetes. Just one of the blood draws was over the allotted amounted by about 2 points, but I was still considered diabetic. To say I was in shock was an understatement. I had no idea how my pregnancy was about to change.
I was immediately forced into a diabetes center where I was instructed to take nutrition classes and meet with a nutrition counselor every few weeks to monitor my glucose levels. I remember sitting in my first class and was incredibly angry. As I sat there listening to what I was going to be allowed to eat, when I could eat and how much I could eat, the anger grew. Wasn’t this supposed to be the one time in my life that I could “eat for two?” How could this be happening to me? I was a healthy person. I ate well. I worked out and was in great shape. I did not fit any of the categories of people who were most likely to get gestational diabetes. By the end of the class my anger turned into tears.
After being shown how to use a glucose monitor to check my blood 4x per day the nutritionalist could obviously see that I was upset. I explained to her that going on a diet during pregnancy was not exactly what I had in mind. I was a dancer, I had already tried lots of diets, I had to do weigh-ins in college, I could not handle counting out my allotted 12 wheat thins for a snack (I am not exaggerating). My mental well being was at stake and I was on the verge of having a major meltdown.
After some convincing, the counselor allowed me to skip the other nutritional classes (since I had taken some in college) and we were just to meet up one on one once a month to go over my glucose numbers. Once she could see that I could keep my numbers in the correct range then she cut a deal with me and said I could test just 3x a week instead of everyday.
I remember the first morning on my new diet plan, I was no longer allowed to have fruit or any kind of dairy for breakfast, instead I was instructed to eat one protein, one fat and one carbohydrate (so that is like one egg and a piece of toast with a bit of butter on it). Except all I wanted for breakfast was a big bowl of cereal with milk and fruit on top. As I stood cooking my egg, I cried. Cried because I didn’t want to eat an egg, because I wanted to eat whatever the heck I wanted to, because I was pregnant, because it just did not feel fair.
I didn’t talk much about my gestational diabetes during my pregnancy because I thought people were going to judge me. I felt like there was a stigma with the word diabetes. I had been exposed to diabetes at a young age when my nephew was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of 3. I knew there were different forms, I saw it first hand, but most people associate it with over weight, non-active people and I didn’t want to be lumped into that category. I didn’t want people to think I was feeding my unborn baby junk food and sitting on the couch all day long. So I kept it pretty much a secret.
Then when I got pregnant for the second time I had to have a blood draw called A1C in the first trimester and they could already tell that my glucose levels were just over the limit (again) and I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Heart Break ALL OVER AGAIN!! I knew this time was going to have a whole different set of challenges considering I was so busy with a 1.5 year old and didn’t have time to be measuring food, making sure I got good work outs or even testing my blood at the correct times.
In the end I was able to control my glucose levels with proper diet and exercise, but it was NOT easy. There were no late night trips to the store for ice cream and cookies. No “eating for two.” In fact, I am pretty sure I eat more now then I did when I was pregnant!
I share my story now because if there is another mom-to-be out there that is going through this I want her to know she is not alone. I know what you are going through and I am sorry that this is not what you had expected. You do not have to feel ashamed, like I did, because as I have now learned you can have gestational diabetes through no fault of your own. I repeat: It is not your fault. Even now it is therapeutic to say those words. Remember that this won’t last forever and that baby is totally worth skipping out on all the special treats you might be craving (plus it did make it a bit easier to loose the weight after, one bonus of it all).