Glucose Intolerance

Hitting the 24+ week mark means doing the glucose test to check for gestational diabetes.  Different institutions test differently.  At mine, we start with a 1 hour test involving drinking a 50 gram glucose load, then checking a blood draw for glucose an hour later.  If the value is elevated, then you have to go in fasting, get your first blood draw, then drink a 100 gram glucose load and check your blood sugar every hour for 3 hours (four total blood draws).

The rationale for doing the testing this way is that the 1 hour test catches more women than actually have gestational diabetes (it’s a more sensitive test), without requiring everyone to do the full 3 hour test, which would be painful.

With WZW, I had an elevated 1 hour test, so I had to do the 3 hr confirmatory test, and it was normal:

I was hoping that last time, I had an elevated 1 hour value because I was following more of a Paleo diet, and my body wasn’t used to handling such a large glucose load.  This pregnancy, I’ve been much more lax with the carbs and sugar.  Alas, I was wrong.  This time around, I had to do the 3 hour glucose test again.  And one of the values after the glucose load was high, meaning I was diagnosed with glucose intolerance.

Glucose intolerance is basically a step below gestational diabetes.  I was certainly relieved not to have overt gestational diabetes, which would have meant being on a strict diet and checking my blood sugars 4 times per day (fasting in the morning, and an hour after each meal).

With that said, I was told that I essentially still need to eat like a gestational diabetic.  I found that frustrating- they tell you things like not to fast over 10 hours, and to avoid fruit and dairy in the mornings since pregnant women tend to have higher sugars in the mornings.  I’d been making smoothies for breakfast because it was a convenient way to add fiber and hydration in the mornings.

I found it difficult not knowing how strict I really needed to be, and not knowing what my blood sugars were actually doing.  I would love to go back to being Paleo, but it’s not that easy.  During pregnancy, it’s like something takes over you- you can’t eat the same, certain things smell terrible, etc.  For many of us, the draw of carbs and sugar are really hard to resist.  At 27 weeks, I am just now approaching my pre-pregnancy weight, and I still feel nauseous after I eat.  So it’s been an annoying existence of not being able to eat normally, and I’ve been tending to snack on starchy crackers and the like.

The not knowing, and inevitably still eating some carbs left me feeling guilty.  So I decided to get a glucose meter to be able to see for sure what was going on.  Normally, a glucometer is not given to women with glucose intolerance, but if a doctor thinks it’s appropriate, it can be ordered.  Lucky for me, I can just ask my doctor/colleague.

The glucometer comes with a bunch of test strips and little needles (lancets).  For each blood sugar check you have to insert a new lancet into the part of the device that detaches to prick your finger.  You also insert a new test strip into the meter itself.  You prick the side of your finger, squeeze to get a droplet of blood, then touch the test strip to the droplet to get your reading.

It’s been interesting to see the results.  For the most part, my fasting values have been fine, though I’ve had some mildly elevated values here and there.  My fruit smoothies with no added sugar have not raised my blood sugars.  But some other things, like a gluten-free bagel (made of mostly tapioca, eggs, and cheese) for breakfast have raised my blood sugars.  But then I also once had a regular full-carb bagel and was ok.

The results are a little inconsistent, but overall it’s a relief that I don’t have to be super strict like a true gestational diabetic.  I still can’t be totally cavalier and eat a ton of carbs, and certainly need to be careful with the overt sugar.  I’ve stopped downing mountains of crackers as snacks switched to nuts, chia seed pudding, cheese, and the like.  It also helps if I walk after eating some carbs, so that my sugar doesn’t end up as high after the meal.

I feel for all of the ladies who have gestational diabetes, because it is a huge daily challenge.  I know my pregnancy hasn’t been terrible, but it’s still been difficult dealing with the daily nausea and the constant battle of wanting to eat certain things even though I know it’s better not to.

This all does go to show that sticking to a more Paleo lifestyle long-term is the best for me, since I do apparently have a propensity towards diabetes.