I have “impaired glucose tolerance,” which is a step below gestational diabetes. The pregnancy hormones in my body are causing my insulin to not process sugar as well as it usually would. Left unchecked, and by “left unchecked” I mean if I continued my ramen-eating habits as they were, I could very possibly develop gestational diabetes, which would pose some mild-to-serious problems for myself and the baby (fat baby, hard labor/delivery, future risk of diabetes, post-birth dangerously low blood sugar for baby, among others).
While some health care providers simply advise diet modification for women who have IGT, my health care provider deals with it aggressively by putting me into the same type of lifestyle program that I would be in if I had gestational diabetes, minus any medication or insulin shots. The “program” involves:
- Testing my blood sugar (yes, poking myself with a small needle gun) four times a day — once when I first wake up (between 8-10 hours since I last ate), then once an hour after breakfast, lunch, and dinner
- Meeting with a dietitian to learn the types of foods I can eat and can’t eat, and how much I should eat at a time
- Planning very detailed menus — or at least keeping track of what you eat — to try to balance the appropriate amounts of starch, protein, fat, milk, fruits, and veggies
- Phoning or emailing blood sugar results for accountability and for the dietitian and nurse to make sure things are going well
As someone who already tries (but is not always successful) to eat according to the food pyramid guidelines, I’m familiar with the concepts of serving sizes and food portions. The food categories for this are a bit different, however, based on the amounts of carbohydrates in the food. Some of the major differences:
- Only milk and plain yogurt count as “milk.”
- Cheese (including cottage cheese) counts as “protein.”
- Potatoes, beans, corn, squash, and starchy vegetables count as “starch.”
- Nuts count as “fat.”
- And some things I can’t eat at all, including fruit juice, sugar, syrup, honey, and sweet sauces.
Each day, I want to have a total of 7 starch, 7 protein, 3 milk, 2 fruit, 5 veggies, and 3 fat, broken down across six meals (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack).
With all those numbers to keep track of, of course I needed to make a spreadsheet!
I started by making several sample/inspirational spreadsheets in Google Docs to try to come up with nearly-complete meal plans of foods that I actually have around the house and would eat. I kept “dinner” options blank but assigned the values that I would shoot for during dinner. I’ll continue to make these inspirational worksheets as I think of more foods.
Here are two samples that I put together:
Then, I made a detailed menu for the rest of the week by copying some of my sample ideas over and adjusting with a dinner menu plan that would work for me and Steve. My numbers aren’t always going to be perfect, but I’m trying to get close, and I can probably also adjust the day-of as needed.
- Thursday dinner: Five-spice prawns over cabbage (and fresh bamboo shoots my aunts brought me from Taiwan)
- Friday dinner: Butternut squash soup, broiled salmon, and steamed broccoli
- Saturday dinner: Breaded pork cutlets, more broccoli, and brown rice.
Planning 3-4 days at a time is probably going to work the best for me so that I can work with what we have leftover in the fridge, so I’ll have to reserve part of Saturday and Wednesday mornings for menu planning!