I’ll be 35 weeks pregnant by tomorrow and I’d like to believe that I’m handling my gestational diabetes tremendously well, which basically means I haven’t caved in and scarfed down a whole pizza pie or chocolate cake (although I really, really want to!!!).
The great news is I have been able to keep my blood glucose numbers in check with dietary changes so my endocrinologist will no longer prescribe meds or insulin. However, I still have to continue monitoring my blood sugar level an hour after meals. When I first consulted my endocrinologist, she required me to take blood readings before and after meals, but my pre-meal readings were consistently normal so I have graduated to taking readings only after meals. Yay me!
My endocrinologist gave me the MyStar Extra glucometer from Sanofi Aventis for free and the kit contained the machine and a lancet pen enclosed in small zip-up bag for portability. This post from OLX says that the glucometer costs Php3,800 so if that’s true, then it’s absolutely fantastic that I didn’t have to pay for it.
I still have to buy the testing strips and lancets though, since those aren’t included in the kit. The BG Star testing strips cost about Php1,300 for 50 pieces or Php700 for 25 pieces, while the One Touch Ultra Soft lancets are much cheaper at about Php400 for a box of 100 pieces.
I was able to buy the lancets in both Mercury Drugstore and Watsons, but the BG Star test strips were only available in Mercury Drugstore.
When I first started with my gestational diabetes ordeal and had to test 6x a day, I would go through a 50 piece pack of test strips in only 8 days. So that’s roughly Php5,000 per month just for the test strips and Php1,600 for the lancets. But now that I only have to test 3x a day, my costs were cut in half. Mahal magka diabetes guys and gals, so please take care of your health.
And take note too that I wasn’t prescribed meds or insulin, if I had to take those, that would mean extra layer of expenses on top of the testing strips and lancets.
Now for the fun part, my gestational diabetes diet.
With gestational diabetes, the idea is to keep blood sugar level from spiking because too much blood sugar will cause the baby to become large (macrosomia), leading to birthing complications, and may cause kidney troubles too because the baby’s kidneys will be overtaxed when it has to work double time to release insulin to counteract the extra blood sugar floating around mommy’s bloodstream. Having gestational diabetes also means that the mom is now more prone to Type 2 diabetes, so even if gestational diabetes goes away after giving birth (which it usually does), the mom now has to be careful with her diet because of the threat of Type 2 diabetes.
There is no clear-cut diet for gestational diabetes because different bodies react differently to different types of food, which is why my nutritionist doesn’t advise those gestational diabetes delivery meals since managing it is more complicated than just counting calories.
For the first week of my blood testing, my post-breakfast readings* were really high while my post-lunch and post-dinner readings eventually became normal as I learned about what food to eat and portion control. As it turned out, I was sensitive to oatmeal, which really blew my mind. Oatmeal is supposed to be the ultimate healthy food but my readings would really spike after a breakfast of oatmeal and hardboiled egg. And this isn’t the instant oatmeal ha, I got the rolled oats type that have to be cooked for a good 8-10 minutes. When I finally accepted that oatmeal was probably bad for me and shifted to a no-carb, protein (usually cheese omelette or a hardboiled egg) and veggie diet for breakfast, my numbers went down to normal. But the no-carb breakfast wasn’t working for me, because I would be very weak and literally shaking with hunger by the time I reached the office. The lesson learned was that a girl needs her carbs.
Thus, I started experimenting on what carbs I could tolerate for breakfast and so far the only carbs that don’t cause me to shoot up are half a small banana pancake using Bob’s Red Mill pancake mix, which I bought from Healthy Options for Php300++ for a pound, officially making it the most expensive pancake mix I’ve ever bought and will ever buy. Half a slice of wheat bread and half a slice of sourdough bread also gave me decent numbers, while half a boiled kamote yielded high blood sugar readings. My post-breakfast numbers with sourdough bread were really low though so I’ll try a whole sourdough slice tomorrow and see how my numbers react.
Lunch and dinner are easier to manage because I’m not coming from a resting state, like with breakfast, so my body is able to manage extra blood sugar better when the day progresses.
My lunch and dinner are usually half a cup of brown rice, protein, and a serving of veggies. My protein is whatever ulam we have at home, no need to be picky there since protein doesn’t add to the glucose level and it even slows down the release of glucose. Veggies rotate around boiled kamote top salad, cucumber salad, and fern salad. My readings tend to be normal with this type of meal.
Snacks are very essential though when you have gestational diabetes. The ideal is to eat 5 or 6 small meals a day, instead of 3 big meals, to keep the blood glucose level normal. Apparently, numbers that are too low are just as bad as numbers that are too high. Steady and regular is the name of the game.
My snacks are usually a piece of fruit, nuts, singkamas, carrots, half a slice of wheat bread with Lily’s no-sugar peanut butter, and boiled kamote. But of course not all on the same day.
I’m really hoping that my gestational diabetes will disappear on its own once I give birth, but even if it does, the last month has shown me that keeping a strict diet doesn’t have to be purgatory after all. I have learned to love my kamote top salad; half a cup of brown rice brings me as much joy as a cup of white rice; and it’s actually fun trying out different types of food now, as opposed to just scarfing down whatever is placed in front of me. I’ve gotten picky with what I eat and that’s not a bad thing. Save for treating myself to a slice of cake once a week, I think I’ll be keeping this diet even when I’m cleared of gestational diabetes.
* My target numbers are below 100 mg/dL pre-meal and below 140 mg/dL after meals (an hour after the first bite).