Confession of a Health Coach

I have a confession to make. My health is not “perfect”. “Not Perfect” as in I have a medical condition. 

In January, I received a phone call from my OB/GYN office, and was told that my blood sugar level was elevated. I needed to see a nutritionist. What???

It turned out that I have gestational diabetes. (Surprise! I am pregnant!) For several days, I pondered on why I developed this condition. I called a few friends to express my surprise and disbelief (“why me?”). I consulted “Dr. Google” about the condition. I made an appointment with a nutritionist, and learned more about this disease. The meeting was very informative and encouraging, so much so, I stopped asking “why” I had gestational diabetes and started to look for solutions. 

For the next several weeks, I followed the advice of the nutritionist and checked my blood sugar level (BSL) 4 times per day, wrote down everything I ate, and watched the amount of carbohydrates I consumed. In addition to this strict regiment, I added green leafy vegetables to every meal. I don’t know why I started doing this. I suppose I felt my body needed more nutrients. I thought that reducing carbohydrates intake was not enough. It was a simple, yet profound, effect on how I managed my gestational diabetes (GD). 

I want to convey this is NOT a prescription or medical advice. I am simply sharing my experience. If you are diagnosed with GD, I strongly advise you to follow the advice of your doctor.

A bunch of spinach going into my lasagna.

A bunch of spinach going into my lasagna.

That being said, here is how my diet played a major role in managing my GD. 

1.     EAT GREENS AT EVERY MEAL

    I started adding kale, bokchoy, chard, spinach, nappa, and spring mix to every meal. For example, in the morning I would sauté some greens and eat it with eggs, potatoes, or some meat. If I had a piece of toast or small waffle, I would still sauté greens or have a small salad on the side. I found that this lowered my BSL when I added greens, even if I ate the exact same carbohydrates and protein of choice.

Girls' breakfast (oven baked pancake with berries) and Mama's breakfast (sausage from farmer's market with corn tortilla and salad)

Girls' breakfast (oven baked pancake with berries) and Mama's breakfast (sausage from farmer's market with corn tortilla and salad)

2.     AVOID EATING OUT

    No matter what I ordered at a restaurant, my blood sugar level after eating out was always high. Even a salad or half a sandwich would raise my BSL. The first time I ate out, my BSL was sky high. This scared me. 

3.     COOK AT HOME

    As I cooked and ate at home, I found something interesting. My BSL was always low, even if I ate what was considered a “high carb” meal such as lasagna, spaghetti, or pizza. Of course, if I cooked at home, I added a green salad or other vegetables to the meal.

Homemade Chicken pot pie with kale & avocado salad

Homemade Chicken pot pie with kale & avocado salad

4.     DO NOT USE ANY BOXED MEALS

    Sometimes, especially for lunch, I use boxed or frozen food, such as Annie’s mac & cheese and pizza for my girls. I always add green peas, broccolis or carrots to it. But If I eat just a 1/2 cup of these boxed or frozen foods, it raises my BSL. It does not matter if it is organic, gluten free, or claimed to be “healthy”, it would always raise my BSL. A friend of mine gave me a bag of Japanese seasoning for fried rice and soup. I used just 1 tea spoon for fried rice, and my BSL was much higher. However, when I made regular fried rice, without the seasoning, and just added salt and soy sauce, my level stayed low. The only two things I found that did not effect my BSL was low-sugar Spaghetti sauce (you have to make sure that the sauce does not contain a lot of sugar) and Taco and Enchilada seasoning from Frontera. Thank goodness I can use these when I do not feel like cooking much. 

As I mentioned before, food affects each person differently. From this seemingly difficult situation, I have been able to manage my gestational diabetes with diet. As a consequence, my energy level is higher, my skin looks better, and I have not gained too much weight compared to my other two pregnancies. I am hoping to maintain these changes for our family’s health after the baby is born in a few months. 

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