Eating Low Carb for a Diabetic Pregnancy
The biggest lesson I’ve learned from tightly managing blood glucose levels during my one and half pregnancies, is the benefit of eating a lower carbohydrate diet. I actually enjoy having a set carb limit at each meal because it helps me to make smarter food choices and keeps my blood sugar levels much more manageable. I suppose it is simple logic that fewer carbohydrates require less insulin, and the more moderate your insulin needs the less likely you are to miscalculate your insulin bolus.
If you’re curious, the carbohydrate limits I (mostly) stick to during pregnancy are:
Breakfast: 15 grams
Morning Snack: 15 grams
Lunch: 45 grams
Afternoon Snack: 15 grams
Dinner: 45 grams
Bedtime Snack: 30 grams
Those certainly aren’t “Atkins” diet levels of carbohydrates, but it is a lot less than the typical diet, I’d imagine. When eating out or measuring certain foods, it’s amazing how quickly a regularly sized meal hits 60-75 grams of carbohydrate.
The most restrictive meal is breakfast since that’s when pregnant bodies are the most resistant to insulin. Luckily, there are a lot of low carb breakfast options, particularly if you like eggs. Regularly eating eggs at breakfast was a revelation from my first pregnancy and I never returned to eating breakfast cereal post-partum. I recognized that eggs kept me feeling fuller longer and were much simpler to bolus for than refined cereals. Sienna is now an avid egg eater too
In order to eat normally and maintain these carb levels, I’ll often just eat a smaller portion of whatever food is being offered: 1 slice of pizza, ½ cup of rice and beans, or ½ a whole wheat wrap, for example. I’ve been known to modify restaurant food by ordering a burrito and then removing the flour tortilla. Several of my breakfast choices are from a regular healthy cookbook and then I just omit the bread, wrap, or other baked good.
Since this meal plan includes several snacks, my meals don’t have to be very big to keep me and baby satisfied.
Now that I’m in the 24th week of pregnancy, I’m definitely noticing an increase in my insulin resistance. Even small, low carb meals are requiring a few units of insulin to keep my blood sugar level. Those occasional indulgences are not as easy to cover as they were a few weeks ago! Time to really stick to those limits!
Kelsey wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Diabetes.