Jeanette Terry was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 11 years old, and she has since lived with diabetes through difficult life transitions, including the teenage years, college, and having children. She addresses the day-to-day struggles of living with diabetes—going beyond medical advice—to improve overall adherence and management.
It isn’t easy being pregnant. It also isn’t easy having diabetes. Combining the two presents some interesting and unique challenges. We all know how important nutrition is to successful diabetes management, but pregnancy throws a wrench into most aspects of diabetes management, including nutrition. It is important to stay on top of your nutrition during your pregnancy, which is much easier said than done.
During the early weeks of pregnancy, many women experience morning sickness, which usually includes aversions to strong smells and many foods. Morning sickness makes it hard to eat or even think about a well-balanced diet because the thought of food makes you sick. This is just the beginning of the struggles to come with diabetes during pregnancy.
When pregnant with diabetes, it is important not to succumb to food cravings on a regular basis. These cravings are often for high-fat, fried, and sweet foods that will wreak havoc on the already sensitive diet you have established.
These cravings don’t happen for everybody, and they don't happen all the time, but the body does do some strange things when pregnant. Therefore, it is important to be prepared with a plan of how to satisfy your growing body with healthier options.
Insulin resistance is also more likely to occur during pregnancy, so you should take into consideration the amount of insulin your body will be requiring. One way to help with insulin resistance is to cut out foods that you might regularly eat that are higher in carbs and sugar. By abstaining from these not-so-healthy foods, your body doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain a stable blood sugar level. You can make those foods a reward for yourself once you have the baby.
Nutrition deficiencies and infections
Another challenge that diabetic pregnant women face is increased nutrient deficiencies and infections. Diabetes already throws off the systems in our bodies, but when you have a little person using up a lot of your nutrients, it’s especially hard for the body to regulate and distribute the rest of the nutrients. With your body lacking nutrients, you’re more susceptible to infections and other ailments, especially yeast infections, which can be prevented by good nutrition.
Even though it may be hard to create a nutrient-rich diet for yourself when most healthy food doesn’t sound very appealing, it is very important for you and your baby's health to make sure you get enough key nutrients such as iron, protein, calcium, and vitamin D. These keep your body running smoothly enough to support the growing baby and your own body. Also, if you do develop a nutrient deficiency or some other ailment during pregnancy, diabetes makes the body heal more slowly than it might otherwise.
As a new mother, you will want to do everything you can to create a healthy environment for your baby. Nutrition is one key to a healthy diabetic pregnancy.