I recently spoke with a mama-to-be that is pregnant with her first baby. She wanted to talk with me because she had just been told she has gestational diabetes after taking her glucose tolerance test. All pregnant women are asked to take a blood sugar test between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy to check for gestational diabetes. The first test is a one-hour test, and if you pass, you’re all done! However, if the numbers are higher than what’s considered “normal,” you’ll be told to take the three-hour test.
For both the one-hour and three-hour tests, you will be given an orange soda-like drink. When I was pregnant with each of my daughters, I did my best to eat a healthy diet and drink clean filtered water. I worked hard to avoid the chemicals and toxins found in common, everyday products and packaged foods. When I read the ingredient list on that little orange bottle, I was shocked! That simple sugar-water drink includes ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup, food dyes, and sodium benzoate, among others. I drank it up and moved on, considering it a “necessary evil.”
If you, like many pregnant women, are trying to avoid things like artificial colors, genetically modified ingredients, MSG, etc., then you may want to consider another option when it comes to the little orange drink known as Glucola. But is there another option? Yes! There is! Organic jelly beans. I recommend organic because traditional jelly beans, although better than Glucola, contain High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and other undesirable ingredients like artificial food dyes.
All you have to do is ask! This is one of many opportunities for you to take charge of your health and stand up for what you feel is best for you and your family. You have the option to use jelly beans instead of the orange drink (Glucola), but most centers will not present you with this option—you have to request it. If you’re told no, you have the right to find another testing center that will permit you to use jelly beans.
Before you head in for your test, and throughout your pregnancy, keep your blood sugar stable by following these suggestions:
-When you eat food that contains sugar, consume it with a healthy fat, protein, and/or fiber.
-Some great options are nut or seed butter, avocados, hummus, butter or ghee. (Side note, eating healthy fats with your veggies helps your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins A and K in carrots, which can be more efficiently used by the body when eaten with a fat, such as butter.)
– Eat smaller portions more frequently. Having snacks will help balance your blood sugar and mood. It can also help with nausea.
-Eat breakfast! Skipping breakfast can set you up for a blood sugar roller coaster for the rest of the day.
-Avoid juice. If you need something other than water, try a splash of fruit juice in mineral or filtered water.
-Stay away from anything that states “fat-free,” “sugar-free” or “low-sugar” on the package. “Fat-free” usually indicates that a ton of sugar has been added to make up for the missing flavor that would usually be provided by fat, and the others usually indicate the use of artificial sweeteners. It’s extremely important to avoid artificial sweeteners, especially when pregnant because they are considered an “excitotoxin” which is unhealthy for both you and your baby.
-Stay active. Go for frequent walks or whatever type of movement you enjoy. Swimming, yoga, and walking are a few great options.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at the email listed below.
Kristy S. Rodriguez, pre- and postnatal wellness expert and advocate, is the owner and founder of Pure Nurture, LLC, a business devoted to educating and inspiring women to nurture and nourish themselves through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. As a Holistic Health Coach and Registered Yoga Teacher specializing in pre- and postnatal wellness, Kristy works with individual clients, as well as teaching classes and workshops, both in person and online. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram and Facebook.