It’s been a month since my first gestational diabetes (GD) appointment where I learned the intricacies of how to manage GD and the dust has settled. As you may have gleaned from my last post, I felt quite overwhelmed initially and for the first couple weeks, I really struggled.
My first week of diet change, food calculating, timed eating intervals, 4x/day finger prick glucose testing and walking/exercise after meals felt like a huge endeavor. Physically, sure, but even more so mentally. I basically spent every waking (and sleeping, thanks to stress dreams!) moment thinking about aspects of these changes and how I was going to manage my diet accordingly while still getting all the nutrients I need as a vegetarian and living a semi-normal life.
In the beginning, I tracked every morsel of food that I ate using MyFitnessPal because I wanted to ensure I was eating the correct amount of carbs per meal or snack, and I wanted to track my protein and calorie intake to be able to gauge how this new diet was affecting those. My doctors were (and still are) primarily concerned about glucose levels but I was worried about protein and calorie intake as well.
In the beginning, I was managing about 1200-1500 calories, which is even a calorie deficit in my non-pregnant state, so I was worried. I lost my appetite entirely and was force-feeding myself on a schedule just to follow the guidance and I simply couldn’t eat any more than I already was. I wasn’t used to eating every 2-3 hours. Plus the challenge of non-carb vegetarian options (apart from dairy) being so low calorie that it hardly made a difference calorie-wise if I could manage to eat more veggies in a day.
I’ll be honest, and I mean absolutely no offense to anyone who truly struggles with this, but this is the closest I’ve felt to experiencing disordered eating. I can’t ignore nutrition labels now. I am mentally labeling foods good and bad (which I don’t agree with, but can’t help in this situation). I’ve lost most of my joy in eating – since everything is so prescriptive and I’ve lost so much of my food freedom. I am limiting certain social interactions around food because it’s often too taxing to try to figure out what to eat in uncontrolled environments. I feel guilty when I’ve experimented with new foods and my glucose reading is high. I struggle with my mental health when I am too strict with the plan and I worry about negative consequences for baby or myself if I ease up a little. And every day is different. Just because something worked for me yesterday or last week, doesn’t mean it will work for me today. My body and hormones are continuing to change during pregnancy and there is no “I’ve got it figured out” with this. It’s ever-changing and I’ll have to continue adjusting throughout the remainder of my pregnancy.
As you all know, I struggle with medical trauma from breast cancer and all that I’ve been through since then, so this is an added mental health struggle for me. Luckily, like my doctor said, it has become just a little easier to manage as I’ve learned more through trial and error. I’m trying very hard to find the balance of it all and I’m continuing to work with my gestational diabetes doctor every week. This is simply another challenge that I need to manage and work through and I’ll keep on keeping on as best I can. Thank you all for your support throughout!