Falling off the wagon
Many ladies who are faced with the challenge of a strict gestational diabetes diet may have a time which results in them 'falling off the wagon' so to speak.
I've yet to meet a person out there who is perfect, I know I'm certainly not and we are all only human!
It's extremely hard and very rare to be 100% perfect, 100% of the time when it comes to sticking to a strict or restrictive diet.
Many ladies feel guilty and blame themselves for "failing". If you feel cracking or falling off the wagon has made you "fail", then turn your "guilt" or "failure" into something positive. In other words, take your slip up and turn it into a teaching moment. Don't sit there beating yourself up, learn from it and move on.
If it happens, it's important to learn from the experience. Ask yourself what happened. If you don't recognise what triggered you falling off the wagon, you're more likely to react the same way the next time the situation arises.
Identify the trigger...
Upset, emotions and stress
Life happens and pregnancy hormones causing all sorts of emotions do not help. Add gestational diabetes diagnosis to the mix along with any other number of problems that could be going on and some ladies find themselves seeking comfort from eating or drinking certain things, resulting in a binge.
Life will throw curve balls at us all the time, so the best thing to do is be prepared. If you rely on food for comfort then work out what things you can eat as a stress relief treat which will not spike your blood sugar levels.
OR, even better, find alternative means of stress relief... Take a candle lit bath, let your partner give you a massage (or book a professional one if your partner is causing the stress!), go for a walk along the sea front or out in the country. Take some time out for you!
Too much restriction
Gestational diagnosis can make some ladies live on salad leaves and 'dust' every day. If you over restrict yourself then you can quickly feel deprived and depressed and it is only a matter of time before you crack.
Check out our dietary advice which can be found here. It's based on eating little and often. As long as you follow the 8 golden rules then you should be able to eat a wide variety of foods and we can help you find alternatives to most things you are craving.
You may find our dietary advice is not as restrictive as the advice you've been given at hospital and it could make a huge difference to the readings you get.
Don't know the alternatives and bored of what you're eating?
It's very easy to keep eating the same things over and over as they give good readings. But there will come a time when you get to the point of wanting to vomit when you put that same item of food you've been living on for weeks to your mouth. This could be the breaking point where ladies throw caution to wind and say "stuff it".
Vary your diet as much as possible and try lots of new things based around our 8 golden rules. You really don't need to eat the same thing every day, you don't need to go hungry and you shouldn't feel deprived as there's so many things you CAN have.
See it as a chance to learn more about what's hiding in foods and try cooking a few of our recipes. Even the most novice cook can create the meals we suggest and they are based on good wholesome foods which can be found in most shops at reasonable price, cooked from scratch. These meals will make for great choices when creating meals for your new family. An example is available on our example meal plan which can be found here.
There's lots of nice treats you can have without spiking your blood sugar levels. A quick swap list of Sweet treats (like chocolate) can be found in a chart under the carbohydrate section of our main dietary advice page. If you struggle to come up with alternatives based on the dietary advice, then our paid membership section has lists of ideas along with shopping lists, hints and tips. Membership options can be viewed here.
Don't believe you have gestational diabetes or 'don't have it that bad'
A common issue is that many ladies do not believe the diagnosis and choose to eat things which they know they should not tolerate as a 'test' to see if they really have gestational diabetes.
For some although diagnosis has been accepted, the mother does not feel she has bad insulin resistance and so she continues to eat her normal diet, without concern over items which may be causing spikes in levels.
In both these situations, overloading the carb amount with some meals can cause spikes and crashes, so when testing and achieving very low numbers they believe they are tolerating things really well.
If you believe you have been misdiagnosed, then it is best to speak directly with your Diabetes health care professionals. The amount of glucose used to diagnosed in a GTT is a high amount and so eating normal foods may not present high blood sugar levels to start with and may not at all, depending on how severe your insulin resistance is. But it is wise to be wary of doing this. Many ladies that have mild insulin resistance or borderline diagnosis can be just like any mother with gestational diabetes and see a rapid change in insulin resistance as the pregnancy progresses, especially 32 - 36 weeks where insulin resistance typically worsens. For more on borderline diagnosis and some comments from previous members with borderline test results, please read more here.
Depending on your test times and targets, you may be missing what many others would class as spikes or high readings. To learn more on testing blood sugar levels and targets used, please take a look here. You may wish to complete extra tests to see how well you tolerate certain things.
Don't know enough about gestational diabetes and the risks
For some there could be a lack of understanding around what gestational diabetes can mean for the baby. Many may think that the only concern is a big baby and "well, some people just have bigger babies, so what's the problem?"
Some may have had growth scans showing the babies growth is average or small and so obviously everything is fine, right? Unfortunately there is much more to gestational diabetes than those things.
The best thing to do is educate yourself on the risks so that you can make informed choices around dietary choices. To read about the complications caused and linked to gestational diabetes then please read more here.
"I get highs when following the dietician's advice, so why bother?"
Some may not see good results when following the dietary advice they've been given and so don't see the point in eating a 'supposedly good diet' and continue to eat their normal diet.
Unfortunately dietary advice can be lacking or poor in many hospitals resulting in many ladies loosing hope and being put on medication or insulin, or doses increased much earlier on in the pregnancy in a way to tolerate the supposedly good GD diet.
Try our dietary advice and you may see a HUGE difference which allows you to eat plenty of nice treats and still control and stabilise your blood sugar levels.
One treat won't hurt will it?
One high reading does not cause major complications with gestational diabetes. But once you've had one treat it can be a slippery road downhill. It can easily go from having a treat once a week, to treats a couple of times a week, which soon can change to treats once a day etc. Add in the complication of gestational diabetes being a progressive condition which worsens as the pregnancy progresses and you could be looking at many over target readings and rollercoaster blood sugar levels.
Nobody is saying don't have a treat, as there's LOADS of things you CAN have, but choosing the right things, pairing them properly and avoiding over indulging all need to be things to be taken into consideration.
If you struggle seeing other people eat or drink certain things in front of you and think that this would play a part in you falling off the wagon, then try your best to avoid being around those things or find the best GD friendly alternative.
If you're going out for a meal, check out the menu beforehand and prepare which things would be your best choices based on the 8 golden rules.
If you struggle with a partner or a family member that doesn't understand why you are being strict on your diet and persists to eat the things you crave in front of you, then you may want to share our gestational diabetes and the family page with them.
It's not like a weight loss diet
It's not like a weight loss diet where falling off the wagon or giving up, you are the only one that suffers any consequences. If you choose to give up on following a diet that keeps blood sugar levels lower and stabilised then yes you may cause yourself to feel rotten with the shakes, sweating, incredible thirst and headache, or you may not feel any different at all. BUT ultimately you are going to be influencing the growth of your baby, affecting the baby's insulin production and increasing the risk of many complications.
Keep the end goal in focus!
Think about your goal and reward, a beautiful, healthy baby. This isn't forever. We are lucky enough to only have to restrict our diet more severely during pregnancy due to diabetes. Many people have to cope with dietary restrictions through their whole life.
We have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes following a pregnancy with gestational diabetes, so we should make some dietary and lifestyle changes where appropriate in order to minimise the risks. But once you've had your baby you can have those things you're desperately craving. Put all the things which you think will spike your blood sugar levels on your post birth treat list.