I think back to my last 2 pregnancies and how I had gestational diabetes with my son and daughter. The first time I had it I was told that if I could not control my numbers (can’t remember what it was measuring- blood sugar??, my nurse friends would know) with diet than I would have to inject myself with insulin. I loathe needles and am very squeamish so I resolved to figure out this food thing.
I was last pregnant almost 11 years ago so things may have changed with how gestational diabetes is managed. I was sent to a nutritionist and given guidelines on how to eat. I was to record what I ate and had to prick my finger 4 times a day and record the numbers with this little machine. This type of diabetes goes away after delivery. But now I have a 60% risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And I believe they said my daughter would have gestational diabetes when she got pregnant. I think I may have had a light bulb moment just now. That same daughter that I had the diabetes with also has a strong attraction to sugar. I am wondering if it is linked to my diabetes. It seems logical that she would be more susceptible to stronger cravings to sugar because of it. That is another thing my medical friends would likely know. 😉
So even though there were bummer things about having this I remember being so thankful for it. I felt like my eyes were opened. I began to see how my body was not created to process the amount of carbohydrates I was putting into it. I realized that our Western diet is making our bodies sick.
Due to my fear of needles I stuck to my eating plan. I thought if I stick to eating like this after I deliver, my body would thank me. I often was more mindful of what I consumed but as the years went on, I began to ignore what I learned.
So each snack and meal I could have a certain number of grams of carbohydrates. For dinner I could have no more than 45g of carbs. I began to see that my usual Mountain Dew could no longer be apart of my life. I had a choice: I could eat dinner or have the soda. I was hungry so ditching food was not going to be an option. I could now see that having a soda with dinner was putting my body beyond its limits. My body was not meant to process that many carbs. I was overloading my system. I could now see how years of eating this way had brought me to a place of having gestational diabetes.
When I first got the news of this diagnosis, I was in denial. How could I get it? I was not obese but I was 20 pounds overweight and not in my ideal BMI. I looked up the risk factors for gestational diabetes and I had none of them except one, I was overweight. That was a hard one to accept.
During these pregnancies my usual desserts could not happen anymore. I think I was allowed 2 or 3 snacks between meals but they had to have no more than 15 grams of carbs and needed to be coupled with a protein. So there was no longer to be 2:30 am chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk. I think the milk alone had 15g. During the days of us being youth pastors, I ALWAYS had chocolate chip cookies/dough in the house. I wanted to have them whenever the teens would drop by. I often would wake in the middle of the night to pee and felt hungry. This then developed into a habit.
So with the gestational diabetes fruit became my dessert. I remember once there was a chocolate cake in the fridge and I wanted it so bad. I think I took just one bite and I knew I had to be done. If I had anymore than my numbers would shoot through the roof and I did not want to do that to my body or my baby. My fear of needles came in very handy. Not all who have diabetes have this fear to help them. I know the addictive nature of food so I don’t judge them when they ignore what their doctors have told them.
In the Bright Lines eating she often gets asked, “Isn’t giving up sugar and flour extreme?” She replied (paraphrase), “Over 70,000 Americans a year get amputations due to diabetes. That is extreme.” That is hard to imagine needing to get a body part sawed off due to an illness. The author/doctor of Bright Lines shares that these patients were warned and know that amputation is a possibility if their diet does not change yet it happens in huge numbers. These people are not dumb, lazy etc. They are victim to a food industry that profits from our addictions. Food manufactures know what to add to make their products more addictive. Sugar is said to be 8 times more addictive than cocaine. Yet these companies are allowed to create these items and to market them to children. We have a whole broken system and a culture that uses sugar to celebrate and medicate.
I am apart of the problem. One of my biggest reasons for addressing sugar in my life is to help my kids not live addicted like I am. Of course I don’t want to demonize it thus making it more alluring but I want to cut back and limit what is in our home so it is not a frequent option. Even though yesterday I just bought 4 boxes of sugary cereals dues to kids and husbands requests for the weekend. I want to please them yet I know it will just make them want more. I am not going to lie but I always thought it was a little extreme and weird when I heard of mom friends who had never taken their kids to McDonalds or who did not have sweets in their home. I thought I don’t want to live that wacky life. But now I see their wisdom. We live in a culture where they will eat sugar. There will be birthday parties, playdates etc where these things are present. But I am really reconsidering what I bring into our home even though just last night I bought 4 boxes of sugar. But old habits die hard. I think there would be a revolt if I removed all processed stuff and sugar. I think I remember reading in Michael Pollan’s Food Rules that if you have dessert, let it be homemade. There is no effort made when you just have to walk over to a package of Oreos. But it takes way more time and effort to bake up a batch of chocolate chip cookies. So at that point a cutie or apple might suffice that sweet craving. I think as I learn and grow on this journey I will be better equipped to help my family. It will likely be a gradual one so I don’t get voted off the island. 😉