What I Learned as a Diabetic Educator From My Glucose Test

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Hi everyone – Christie here! It is the week of my due date, and before I head out on maternity leave I thought I would share my 2nd trimester update with y’all. (Get my 1st trimester update here!)

There are so many milestones and markers that come along with a progressing pregnancy. Every week it can be both exciting and scary to see how your body and baby are changing. I know one big milestone that I had been curious and nervous about was my 28 week glucose screening. As a Certified Diabetes Educator, I was interested to see the process first hand, but as a first time mom I was pretty nervous. During this appointment, you do not have to be fasting and you are asked to drink a 50 gram glucose drink (called glucola) that is about 10 oz within a 5 minute period. This is used to screen for gestational diabetes which can be defined as either diabetes that develops during pregnancy due to an increase in placental hormones, among other factors, or pre-existing diabetes first recognized during pregnancy.

The morning of my glucose test

Prior to my appointment, I ate a fairly normal breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese and 1 Cup of strawberries. I knew it was so important to continue to eat normally prior to your test! At the appointment, the nurse gave me the 10 oz bottle and “started the clock” to drink it within 5 minutes. For those who are not used to eating a lot of sweets or sugary beverages the drink is a little startling. It tasted like a flat orange soda or overly sweet sports drink. It is amazing how quickly 5 minutes goes by and I had to chug the last few sips. I was then taken to the exam room to wait the 1 hour prior to getting my blood drawn. Honestly, the hardest part was not being able to drink any water during this time. I felt a little shaky and my heart was definitely racing while I waited. After 1 hour it was finally time to get my blood drawn and I was feeling pretty faint at this point. I was told I would be called with the results in a day or two.

Two days later

“You did not pass the glucose screening.” Two days later the nurse called me to tell me that my blood sugar came back at 161 mg/dL. This was decently above the 140 mg/dL cut off for the screening. I was honestly in shock. She went on to tell me I would need to schedule a 3 hour glucose tolerance test at a lab as soon as possible. That meant I would have to drink double the sugar in a 100 gram 10 oz glucola and stay for 3 hours to have my blood sugar tested at each hour. I knew how bad I had felt from the 50 gram drink and was really nervous about how I would make it through 3 hours, while fasting this time! I went the following Monday and this time the drink tasted almost more like syrup and I thought I may throw up during that first hour. My body did not know what was going on. Fortunately, I was able to drink water throughout this one and I sat in a chair and read to distract myself. In order to pass this 3 hour test, you have to have at least 3 of 4 normal readings from the fasting (< 95 mg/dL), 1 hour (<180 mg/dL), 2 hour(<155 mg/dL), and 3 hour (<140 mg/dL) glucose checks.

Then I got the news

Once again, 2 days later I received the call from the nurse, “you failed the 1 hour and 2 hour readings, you have gestational diabetes”. Luckily, I was able to share that that since I was a dietitian and certified diabetes educator I felt confident in what I was doing.
However, even though it is my job and I have an extensive knowledge of diabetes and nutrition, I was devastated. I couldn’t help in that moment feeling like I had failed or done something wrong. The only risk factor that I had for gestational diabetes was that I’m over 25 years old. I immediately started thinking about the worst case scenarios of how my baby may be negatively affected. I thought of all the clients who had come to me in the past describing this feeling that I was now experiencing first hand. After about an hour of throwing myself a pity party, I went to the pharmacy and picked up my blood sugar meter. I have continued to eat how I normally would with balanced meals of lean protein, high fiber carbohydrates, vegetables, and unsaturated fats. I make sure all of my snacks contain both carbohydrate and protein. I walk everyday and do yoga some days. I have been checking my blood sugar 4 times per day for the past 6 weeks with only 2 readings outside of normal range.

The takeaway

The bottom line is that gestational diabetes can have serious adverse effects on you and your baby if uncontrolled, but it is not impossible to maintain well controlled blood sugars with diet and exercise. It does take a little extra thought and time, but ultimately it has helped give me even more focus on what I am putting into my body and listening to what my body is telling me that it needs.

I want anyone reading this to know that a diagnosis of gestational diabetes does not mean you failed or you did anything wrong.

I’m thankful that I now can understand first hand what women with gestational diabetes are experiencing and can speak to the actual experience. Here are my top tips for moms with gestational diabetes!

5 Simple Steps to Maintain Well-Controlled Blood Sugars in Pregnancy:

  1. Know Your Numbers! A lot of women are afraid of checking their blood sugar because of the needles or fear of “failure”, but this is truly your best tool in knowing how your diet and exercise are affecting your blood sugar and your baby. These numbers are not a reflection of your self worth.
  2. Eat every 2-3 hours to help keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day. Eating smaller portions more often will also prevent you from getting too hungry which could lead to overeating and heartburn later.
  3. Carbs + protein are your best friend when it comes to maintaining good blood sugar control and managing your hunger. Eating carbs alone may spike your blood sugar and cause nausea. It is important to eat carbohydrates throughout the day (don’t avoid them!) to give you and your baby energy, but always make sure to pair with a protein like whole grain bread with peanut butter or a piece of whole fruit with a cheese stick.
  4. Daily Movement! Nothing new here, it is always so important to keep your body moving. During pregnancy you don’t have to be doing crazy cardio workouts to get benefits. Simply walking for 10 minutes after meals can help your body use the sugar in your bloodstream for energy. It can also help improve circulation in your lower legs to decrease some of the swelling you may be experiencing.

Diabetes is my specialty, and if you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes or just want some extra help with nutrition throughout your pregnancy, I would love to work with you. Click here to set up your FREE 15 minute discovery call!

5 Ways to Prevent Diabetes

pasta

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and as a Certified Diabetes Educator, this month means a lot to me. One of the top goals we hear from our clients is that they do not want to end up with Type 2 Diabetes like their relatives did, or they don’t want to start (or stay) on medication. When people think of diabetes, they often think they’re doomed …but the good news is that your genes don’t have to dictate your reality!

Here are 5 ways you can decrease your risk of developing Gestational diabetes, pre-diabetes, and ultimately Type 2 diabetes:

    1. Know your numbers! Getting annual lab work completed that includes a fasting glucose reading and Hemoglobin A1c can clue you in on your risk level, and can be imperative in monitoring how your lifestyle changes are affecting your health. The fact that nearly 90% of Americans who have pre-diabetes don’t know that they have it speaks to the importance of knowing your own numbers.
    2. Take a Passagiata. We all know that the European way of life is a little more laissez-fare compared to us high wired Americans. I think they’re onto something. After meals, you will see most Italians taking a stroll outside. This passagiata, which means “post meal stroll”,  can make a huge difference in your blood sugar. When you eat, your blood sugar goes up and when you walk, your muscle cells are able to uptake more glucose (sugar) to be used for energy. So instead of chilling on the couch after dinner, take a quick stroll around the neighborhood or even just walk in place in front of the TV if you can’t go outside. 
    3. Veg-Out! “Eat your vegetables!” is something that probably still rings in your ears from childhood. However, mom’s instructions are just as important now as they were then. Making 50% of your plate non-starchy vegetables (think: leafy greens, mushrooms, peppers, cauliflower and broccoli) is a great way to increase nutrient density on your plate and increase fiber. Increasing fiber in your diet helps slow your digestion which slows the rise of post meal blood sugar. Remember this tip at holiday dinners and parties this year. If you can make sure 50% of your plate is veggies that will naturally prevent low nutrient, higher calorie foods from covering the entire plate.
    4. Eat consistently throughout the day. Eating breakfast within one hour of waking up, and eating a meal or snack every 3-4 hours throughout the day can help reduce your risk. Why? Because not only will you have consistent energy levels throughout the day, it also decreases the risk of overeating (carbohydrates) at the next meal, or bingeing on snacks/sweets. 
    5. Maintain a healthy weight and avoid yo-yo dieting. A healthy weight is totally different for everyone and is highly individualized. However, research shows us that maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding yo-yo diets (which are shown to result in weight GAIN rather than loss) significantly reduces the risk of  chronic illnesses like Type 2 diabetes. If a weight loss is recommended by your doctor, a healthy weight loss of 0.5-1 pound per week for women, and 1-2 pounds per week for men is the way to go in addition to checking your blood sugars and A1c (see tip #1 above). And don’t feel like you have to go crazy with the weight loss! According to a study done by Diabetes Journal, just a 2 pound weight loss correlated to a 16% reduction in Diabetes risk.

Want to learn more about Diabetes prevention or management? We are here to help. Click here to set up your FREE 15 minute discovery call with a Registered Dietitian.

-Written by Christie Griffin, RD, LD, CDE, CSOWM – Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group

Meet Our NEW Registered Dietitian: Christie Griffin, RD, LD, CDE, CSOWM

I am very excited to announce Christie Griffin, RD, LD, CDE, CSOWM as the newest member of the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group team! Christie offers nutrition counseling in packages of three or six sessions in our Medical Nutrition Therapy program. Keep reading to learn more about her background, her favorite food, and the #1 that she wants her new clients to know.

View More: http://kellimcabeephotography.pass.us/brittany-jones-rebrand

Q&A with Christie Griffin, RD, LD, CDE, CSOWM

Q: Where are you from originally?

A: I am originally from Atlanta, GA. I grew up in a family with 2 younger sisters and parents who loved all things sports. I played Varsity Tennis all through out high school. When I graduated high school it was off to Clemson University to study Nutrition!

Q: Why is being a Registered Dietitian your dream job?

A: I struggled with being overweight and my relationship with food when I was younger. I went to Clemson University to study nutrition to learn more for my own benefit and to help others. Years later, I love helping others learn to love food, and how it can help them (and not hurt).

Q: You also are a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), what made you want to specialize in diabetes?

A: I first started practicing as a dietitian in the Pee Dee Region of South Carolina, which has one of the highest rates of Type II Diabetes in the country. I worked with a Registered Nurse who was also a CDE to create and implement a Diabetes Self Management Program to help better meet the needs of the patients in that community. The more people I saw with diabetes, the more I wanted to learn about this disease. I then began to pursue getting certified as a Diabetes Educator myself!

Q: What is your favorite food?

A: Veggie pizza or roasted potatoes…oh and PICKLES!

Q: Take us through your typical day.

A: One of the things I love most about being a dietitian is every single day is different. Most days of the week I wake up and go to Orangetheory Fitness Greenville for my favorite HIIT workout. I started 6 months ago and I have loved seeing the progression in my endurance and strength! Other mornings I might walk my golden retriever Barkley around the neighborhood. For breakfast, I almost always have a Berry Protein Smoothie and some hot tea. I also work for the Business Health Department for Prisma Health where I get to meet with employees of the hospital as well as other companies in the area. My days are mostly filled with one on one appointments with clients for Prisma Health and/or the Brittany Jones Nutrition Group discussing weight loss and chronic disease management, or teaching group classes on various health topics. It is such an honor to work with people who are making a conscious decision to put their health first!

Q: What is your favorite thing to do in Greenville, SC?

A: My husband, Michael, and I absolutely love to try out new restaurants in the area. There are so many! We also really enjoy biking or walking the Swamp Rabbit Trail as well.

Q: What would you like your future clients to know about working with you?

A: I am all about Progress NOT Perfection! When you come and meet with me please don’t feel like you have to change everything in your life overnight. I love to help people make small, sustainable changes until they are confidently doing them regularly. Having a healthy and balanced eating pattern is a continuum, and I am going to meet you exactly where you’re at, with absolutely no judgement at all!

Click here to set up your FREE 15 minute discovery call to discuss your goals and book an appointment with Christie today!