My friend — we’ll call her Jenny — is pregnant! Jenny went for her oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) in her second trimester, per protocol, to check for gestational diabetes (GDM). Gestational diabetes shows up in approximately 4-5% of pregnancies and is marked by elevated blood glucose due to elevated hormone levels, affecting insulin secretion. Insulin is the hormone responsible for decreasing blood glucose (sugar) in the blood. Gestational diabetes is diagnosed when the body cannot make enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels within safe ranges for both mother and baby.
While Jenny was not diagnosed with GDM, she was told to stay away from “simple sugars” after a slightly elevated 2-hour blood glucose reading during her OGTT. So, she wants to know what carbs to include and which to exclude.
As far as “simple carbohydrates” things that come to mind include: soda, juice, sugar, syrup, candy, honey, chocolate, desserts, white flour, etc.
“Complex carbohydrate” are the “good carbs,” meaning they do not as readily (and quickly) increase blood glucose in the body. When fiber is included in a food we can consider it more complex as fiber causes a “slow release” of sugar. Often, fiber-containing carbohydrates are given a “net carb” count, meaning the grams of fiber are subtracted from the total grams of carbohydrates giving the “net carbs,” and thus “lowering” the actual effect of carbohydrate on blood glucose.
So, complex carbohydrates would include: whole grain cereal, pasta, and rice, oats, beans, legumes, and fruits and vegetables. So basically, anything that’s not a sugar or refined : )
Because I’m a huge supporter of a diabetic meal patterns (consistent carbohydrates), I recommend to insulin resistant individuals a slightly modified diabetic meal pattern of approximately 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal with a night time snack consisting of both carbohydrates and protein (approx. 15-30 grams of carbohydrates). Adding in morning and afternoon snacks containing approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates is optimal, as well.
For our purposes, forget about “net carbs” and focus on labels and “total carbohydrates” — grams. By controlling the amount of glucose we’re putting into our bodies, we can control (the best and only way that we can) the amount of sugar going into our blood. Hence, any individual with insulin resistance, I recommend following this regimen (or a modification of this regimen).
Carbohydrates are essential and thus, the backbone of any diet. Even a diabetic diet contains mostly carbohydrates. And really, a diabetic meal pattern is simply another means of explaining a HEALTHY, BALANCED DIET! Ideally, all of our meals are comprised of carbohydrates, fats, and protein. In the case of carbohydrate control, the aim is to meet, but not exceed, the recommended carbohydrate intake and use protein and fat accordingly.
What might 60 grams of carbohydrates LOOK like? Good question!
2 slices of whole wheat toast
with Smart Balance or peanut butter
1 small banana
1 egg or Egg Beaters
coffee with creamer
apple and 1 oz. low-fat cheese
2 oz. turkey and cheese sandwich on whole wheat
1 Tbsp light mayonnaise
1 serving of baked chips
1 oz. of almonds
low-fat yogurt with 1/4 c. granola
1 c. whole wheat pasta
1/2 c. marinara
3-4 1 ounce meatballs
salad with light dressing
6-8 crackers with cheese or peanut butter
“Jenny” — I hope this helps! I’m here to help…just ask : )
And in my crock pot last night was a winner, and rich in complex carbohydrates! Can’t-Hardly-Cook Chicken Parmesan! Before work, I threw in 5 chicken breasts which I had rolled in Egg Beaters and then in a mix of bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic powder (lightly brush with olive oil the bottom of your crock pot first). I then layered 2-3 slices of light mozzarella over the top, and dumped on 2 jars of Classico marinara. Cooked on low all day and added it atop a portion of whole wheat linguine. It was divine! The chicken fell apart it was so moist…delicious!
I’ve got tonight’s dinner cookin’ up now — chicken tortilla soup! Yum! Recipe review (and pictures) later!
Thanks for the great information on such an important topic. I love your posts.I will refer to this post whenever I consult with a gestational diabetic.