6 Surprising Lessons from Having Gestational Diabetes

Egg Noodle Pad Thai

Want to know the most stressful thing that happened to me during my recent pregnancy? Being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes.

Of course, like most things in life that feel like the ‘end of the world’ at the time, it turned out to be a HUGE blessing. On three levels.

First, it’s forced me to overcome my fear of needles. Testing your blood sugar 4 times a day will do that.

Second, it helped me understand why I gained a crazy amount of weight during my first pregnancy. (Hello 20kg / 40lb) So much that I had lots of strangers asking me if I was having twins towards the end.

Third, it really gave me a first hand understanding of how different foods influence my blood sugar levels.

So today I thought I’d share some of the more surprising revelations I’ve had over the last 6-odd months of testing my blood sugar first thing in the morning and then again after (almost) every meal…

6 Surprising Lessons from Monitoring my Blood Sugar Levels

1. Eating low carb makes a huge difference to weight gain during pregnancy.

During pregnancy the placenta puts out chemicals which decrease the effectiveness of insulin which means your blood sugar is naturally higher (to feed the baby).  So when you eat carbs during pregnancy you end up with a bigger spike in your blood sugar than you would normally get which leads to more weight gain.

This is why eating low carb during pregnancy makes a huge difference. I ended up 6kg (12lb) lighter at the end of this pregnancy compared with my first. And the only change I made was to be (mostly) low carb and monitor my blood sugar.

2. The effects of a high carb meals last a long time.

This really surprised me but having a higher carb meal in the evening would mean my fasting blood sugar levels the next morning were higher than normal as well.

3. Low GI foods still increase blood sugar.

Just because a food is considered to be low GI doesn’t mean it won’t cause a spike. The spike just won’t be as big as with higher GI food.

4. It is possible to make delicious, low carb AND sugar-free sweet treats.

When faced with no alternative I really got into baking with stevia during this pregnancy. The secret I’ve found is to use a pure stevia powder instead of stevia mixed with sugar alcohols like Natvia. I like the powdered form because I found it doesn’t have the aftertaste or gritty texture of Natvia. It can be a little tricky to convert recipes but mostly they turned out fine.

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a low-carb / sugar-free / gluten-free baking book. If that’s something you’d be interested in let me know! Either in the comments below or shoot me an email to jules@thestonesoup.com.

5. Speed of eating makes a difference.

I had a few long restaurant meals where I didn’t worry about carbs (a girl has to have some fun) and was surprised that my blood sugar was fine after the long leisurely lunches and dinners Phew.

6. Quantity makes a HUGE difference.

I was reminded on a few occasions having a few bites of dessert or pizza isn’t going to wreak havoc. Little indulgences here and there are fine. And I found I enjoyed them even more than normal because there was the element of the ‘forbidden’.

Where to from here?

Given the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes is super high in women who have had gestational diabetes, I’m on a mission to avoid that fate.

So the plan is to stay (pretty much) low carb / high fat. Same as during my pregnancy but not quite as strict. And make sure I get enough exercise. For now that’s trying to do my 10000 steps every day. But longer term I’m planning to get back into running.

It’s amazing how only a few days after the birth, my blood sugar levels decreased. I’ve also noticed that I’m less sensitive to carbs than I was during pregnancy.

Will keep you posted…

———

Egg Noodle Pad Thai-2

Egg Noodle ‘Pad Thai’

Pad Thai is probably the most famous Thai noodle dish which I absolutely adore. Unfortunately it’s traditionally made using rice noodles which are delicious but very high GI. Fortunately I’ve found an alternative, inspired by Sydney paleo chef Pete Evans… Make ‘noodles’ using eggs so they’re super filling, blood sugar-friendly and delicious. Win win win!

enough for: 2
takes: 20 minutes

6 eggs
1 tablespoon soy sauce for eggs & 2 tablespoons for dressing
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
handful bean sprouts and/OR 1 bunch coriander (cilantro) (chopped)
handful roasted peanuts

1. Stir eggs and 1 tablespoon soy sauce together in a medium bowl.

2. To make the noodles, heat a medium frying pan on a medium high heat. Add enough egg mixture to cover the base of the pan. About 1/4 – 1/3.

3. Cook your egg ‘pancake’ until mostly set, then turn and cook on the other side for 30 seconds or until cooked through. Remove ‘pancake’ from the pan and place on a clean plate.

4. Repeat with the remaining mixture until you end up with 3-4 ‘pancakes’.

5. Stack the pancakes up and roll into a log. Slice into ribbons as fine as you can be bothered.

6. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, ketchup and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium bowl. Toss in egg ‘noodles’, beansprouts (if using), coriander (if using) and peanuts and serve.

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Variations

sugar-free – use 1 tablespoon tomato puree instead of the ketchup. Or a handful of halved cherry tomatoes.

nut-free – replace with shredded cooked chicken.

carb lovers / more substantial – cook rice noodles according to the packet and toss in at the end. Or serve with steamed rice.

more veg – toss in finely sliced carrot, red capsicum, snow peas and/or mint leaves.

Video Version of the Recipe.

Big love,
Jules x

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ps. Are you interested in low carb / sugar-free baking?
If you’d definitely want to buy a Stonesoup healthy baking book, do let me know in the comments below. Or via email jules@thestonesoup.com. It’s an idea I’m excited about but I only want to do it if there’s enough other people excited about it too!

128 Comments

  • obviously we want to get a hold of low carb/sugarfree recipies. both meals and baking!

    trying to transition to a low carb and lower fat intense diet, due to health issues.

    /T

  • What a great recipe! I am gluten intolerant and have other issues which means I need to be much better about being low-carb. I don’t bake much but would love more recipes like this. I never thought to use eggs as a noodle! Usually it’s carrots or zucchini. Thank you for this!

  • Dear Jules,
    your recipes and cooking books have completely transformed the way I cook – and I absolutely love it.
    It would be great if you made a healthy baking book and I would buy it at once.
    Best wishes from Germany,
    Insa

  • You are a girl after my own heart for sure. Good luck on avoiding Type 2 D. I was gestational diabetic with my twins 40 years ago and didn’t pay attention and now I am Type 2D.

    I would definitely be interested. Have usually not liked any of the stevia stuff but maybe the pure stevia will work better.

  • Yes I need low carb baking in my life please! Great article and choc (?) full of realistic helpful tips. Thanks xx

  • Hi Jules, definitely interested in the book. i do have a question if you don’t mind answering, how did you find your blood sugar reacted to certain fruits and even some veggies?
    thanks

  • Great to see this is being considered. Have been following this for a while now and the weight is slowly dropping off and cravings gone. It was suggested a few years ago this could be a possibility for me and with my adopted change of eating I am more aware of the and impact it could have. Look forward to seeing how this develops.

  • Definite yes on low carb/sugar-free baking book! Cooking and baking for myself and my husband (who has type 2 diabetes) is a fun challenge.

  • I would LOVE a cookbook like this! My 10 year old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 2 weeks ago and we are still adjusting to it. I’d be particularly interested in low-carb/sugar in-between-meal snacks (to keep his sugar on an even keel) and desserts; I feel I’m rotating the same old reliables too much. Would love to have some chocolate recipes since cocoa and cocoa butter are naturally quite low in sugar but I don’t know what to do with them.

  • Looks just like I have been looking for, sensible discussion about this subject, amd food suggestions, that are not out of this world.

  • Yes! Please write the cookbook! I need better baking recipes that can be made low carb/with whole foods yesterday!

  • I have a sister who is insulin resistence. A book such as your suggesting sounds like just the thing for her and it would also be good for all.

  • Yes,yes,yes,a book like this would be fantastic,I can’t have wheat,and need to keep my carbs in take low,love your way with food.

  • I am very interested in sugar free, low carb and gluten free recipe book. I too, had gestational diabetes with my last two pregnancies. I cut the sugar by 1/2 to 3/4 in most recipes and people enjoy them anyway. Thanks for your recipes and emails. Good luck! Lyne

  • I am interested in a low carb and low sugar baking book. I am not interested in gluten free as this is not a problem for us.
    Thanks!!

  • I am definitely interested. I will be on a steroid along with chemo for the rest of my life that raises my blood sugar level. I don’t want to get diabetes, so try to cook alternatives, but am not always successful. Thanks for your good tips!

  • Yes please to the book, but I’m very wary of sugar substitutes even Stevia. I prefer the idea of weaning ourselves off overly sweet foods. I think there’s a school of thought that says there’s a psychosomatic link between sugar/sweet and insulin spikes (I think they’ve shown this with Diet Coke?). I prefer real food subs for recipes eg sweet potato or dates or banana, rather than something processed that I have to search out in a health food shop, like the powdered stevia.

  • Yes, definitely! Have been baking low carb/sugar for a while. I think low sugar/high fat is the way forward. See Dr Mark Hyman’s last book.

  • Yes to a healthy baking book. Especially an ebook. Just made my 6th batch of your no cook brownies. Perfect every time. The lower in fructose the better.

  • I had the same transition as you – from carb-eating to slow carb, then eventually to keto/LCHF, though not because of pregnancy, just because of losing my early-20s metabolism ;) I’ve always loved your recipes for how well they fit within these eating habits without having a million steps or ingredients. Assuming the baking cookbook would maintain the same simplicity – yes, please, do make one!!!

  • I have been eating sugar free, gluten free, low carb, high fat diet for some time and now lactose free, (or at least reduced lactose). Your cookbook would save me racking my brain for recipe ideas, I am very interested.

  • I would be interested in trying a few recipes. I have very fussy eaters to feed and it has taken me a year to convert them to 1/2 a plate of veg, 1/4 plate of carbs and a 1/4 plate of protein. We also eat dairy, fruit, nuts and seeds. We eat a lot less protein and carbs and more fruit and veg now. I am simplifying my pantry slowly and I do like using your recipes as a base and then adding as you suggest with your recipes.

  • I’ll join the throng. Having just tossed sugar and alcohol for month (sort of FebFast) I’m keen to keep going – eliminating sugar at least ?

  • Hi Jules
    would definitely be interested in low carb/sugar free baking. I definitely have a sweet tooth so an alternative to sugar would be great for me!

  • Yes please, my family are low carb/sugar-free/gluten free fans, and can you also include your substitutions to almond flour as we also have a nut allergy in the house too. Love it!!

  • And you were afraid you wouldn’t have a single person interested in a low carb baking book? ? Count me in as one of your hungry fans who need all the help we can get!!! We love your recipes!!!

  • Have been a diabetic for at least 30 years (type 2 Insulin controlled). I would be interested in a baking cook book following low carbs high protein and reasonable fats.

  • This is exactly the type of book I have been searching for Jules! Especially with an Australian perspective (and ingredients etc.) Sooner rather than later I say!
    Can you please keep in mind though, when developing your recipes, that pure stevia is very expensive and could exclude many of us from using the book if this was used extensively. I would also love you to consider some recipes for those of us who don’t have a particularly sweet tooth.
    Many thanks!
    P.S. Love Stonesoup and all the books of yours I already have.

  • Hi Jules, after having been diagnosed with GD early in my first pregnancy last year, I too felt like it was a blessing in disguise but I wanted to point out that one of the key benefits for me was learning how to eat and enjoy low GI and quality carbs (e.g., smaller quantities of quality slow-release carbs like sourdough, basmati rice, egg noodles, pasta) rather than simply following a low or no carb diet. If you’re like me, the biggest change in managing GD was actually reintroducing carbs to my diet as I think that my body had adjusted to a low carb diet so that when I got the inevitable first trimester carb cravings, it wasn’t able to cope with the drastic change. Just rambling now but thought you might find it interesting that recent research on diabetes in pregnant rats have found a similar effect with elevated sugar levels in rats who had been on a low glucose diet prior to pregnancy compared to those who were on a regular diet prior to pregnancy.

  • Yes – definitely interested in a healthy baking cookbook! If there could be gluten and dairy free options as well, I would swoon! = )

  • Hi Jules,
    It would be great to see you sugar-free gluten-free low-carb cookbook! I’d suggest to look also into other sugar alternatives like dates, coconut sugar, coconut nectar, agave syrup, honey, apple juice, apple mash, bananas, adding cinnamon etc. For me, no matter which brands or forms (liquid/powder) of stevia I tried, it has a horrible aftertaste. Besides, I’ve experienced that the more I eat sugar-free, the more of sweetness I taste in the “natural” sugar-free foods :)
    Looking forward to your ideas!

  • Go for it Jules! There’s a big gap in the healthy baking area for a genuinely sugar-free approach. Many healthy baking recipes still rely on high-glucose sweetners (and I include low-fructose sweetners like rice-malt syrup here). It would be great to have a collection of recipes that focus on low glycaemic load and use of stevia powder. Even better, recipes that help cooks to gradually dial down the level of sweetness, whether stevia or not, to habituate our palates to less sugar in general.

  • As a Type 2 diabetic I would be interested in a low/carb, sugar free baking book particularly if you keep the recipes simple as you usually do.

  • what can I add, that has not been said already? nothing, really, so I will just sum it up: a book of Jules’ filled with gluten free, low carb or LCHF, low sugar (but not necessarily with stevia) baking recipes would be much appreciated, thank you. :-)

  • Wow all these comments! Me too, yes please – but as above comment, would like gluten free, low carb/sugar with sometimes substitutes for stevia perhaps? – you are the Queen of catering to all xx. Hurry!! (as if you don’t have enough to do these days) Hope you have some time to enjoy the babies while keeping the fans happy :-) THANKS for everything, love it.

  • PS me again. No one has mentioned savoury baking? Gluten free low carb, is it possible?
    I’m thinking cheesy veggie scones? Herby rolls? I’m hungry now . . .

  • Would love a sugar free book. I would prefer to keep to natural (e.g. not stevia). I’ve been trying banana and then chick peas to keep it gluten free. I’ve also heard avocado/kidney beans are alternatives. Any chance of adding “kid friendly and school lunch box” ideas?

  • Yes this is the dessert cookbook I would love to have. And knowing the best type of stevia is very helpful! Thanks Jules! Maybe I could drop a few pounds ! Susanne

  • Love all your recipes so would like your suggestions on low carb a sugar free recipes as I have to keep my blood sugar low to avoid type 2 diabetes.

  • Please please please! I would be so so interested as my husband is diabetic and I would love to ditch the sugar in my baking.
    PS: Your addictive broccoli soup is now a weekly staple in our household – Can’t thank you enough. xxx

  • Thank you for this recipe! great timing. I am pregnant and my diet is carbs carbs carbs and you’ve motivated me to sort this out now. would appreciate more preg friendly recipes if you have time.

  • Looks like you might need to produce 2 cookbooks, one for sugar free sweets and one for low glycemic and gluten-free savory food. Just remember when you think about what to sweeten a recipe with that the glycemic index of dates is 110. Love dates but I can’t afford to eat them. Love sweets, especially chocolate, but if I am to control my blood sugar I need to eliminate all that sugar. It would be great if you could create a recipe for sugar free ice cream.

  • Would love to see a cookbook on sugar free and low carb recipes. Your version of pad Thai was very tasty. Thanks a bunch!

  • Hi Jules, thanks for the great post. I am way beyond the risk of gestational diabetes because of my post-menopausal status, but find these tips to be helpful since type 2 diabetes runs in my family, and I am a carb addict (mostly recovering, although I still adore potatoes).

    A gf, low carb baking book would be great although I am not interested in using some of the ingredients that so often make up gluten-free baked goods, like Xantham gum, tapioca starch, etc. I just don’t see them as being much of an improvement over traditional baking. Recipes with whole foods would be wonderful! Grace

  • although my husband and I have no dietary restrictions, we seem to be in the minority. Several of our friends are gluten free, or on paleo or ketogenic diets. when we get together for a bring -a-dish-to-pass meal, it’s difficult to meet all of the limitations. I have a gillion cook books, but one from you on low-carb, gluten-free baking, is one I would surely consider adding to my “shelf”.

  • I would be all over that healthy baking book. Since I have some issues with eggs some egg free recipes would be great, as well :)

  • oh yes i’m very interested in a healthy baking book
    please add some vegan recipes or recipes which are easy to change
    i love your cookbooks :)))

  • I’d love the recipe book! I recently went gluten-free, and have been sugar-free for years, but I’m trying to go even more natural with that than before. The recipe above looks simple enough that even I could do it. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  • I would love a low carb / lower sugar cookbook. I also am curious as to what carbs are you avoiding? Refined? I know legumes feature in your foods and I wonder if you cut them back as well?

    Also! Where do you get your Stevia? I’m in Canberra and would love to know if you get it around here.

    =)

  • Yes please! With optional dairy free. It is so difficulty not to get discouraged when you have dietary restrictions. I know I am not alone. I have given up gluten and dairy and am now being told the sugar has got to go too (autoimmiune issues). So any help is appreciated!

  • I am 20wks pregnant now, and am ASTOUNDED by my diet! Have been struggling with food aversions and heartburn (including to raw veg :( !!!!) and my usually very healthy diet has turned upside down! I’m a doctor as well, so it is not as if I don’t know the risks or what to eat… I am just having a hard time with inspo (along with difficulty cooking or tolterating cooking smells). Was super happy to see this post and recipe – would lovvve to see more, incl. some sweets ;) Also inspired to go back through some of your cookbooks I have – I’m sure there are some similar easy recipes I can start to use in them already! As an additional FYI to readers, exercising after meals works like insulin to get that blood sugar taken up into your muscles, a super important aspect of diabetes/pre-diabetes management :D

  • I am in my 40, I think i need to start paying attention to my diet too.. I have a bad habit of eating a at night, i can’t sleep if i’m hungry. I should reduce my carb consumption before its too late.

  • I am interested in your new book. i don’t really understand what ‘Low G.I.’ means. A list or relevant foods would be good. An idiot manual in fact.
    Jenny

  • I would definitely buy your healthy baking /sugar-free baking book! I have been experimenting with sugar-free baking, trying to use stevia liquid and powder (which has worked well in ice creams, mousses, no-bake things for me), but would like some baking recipes. I have lately been making recipes using rice malt syrup or coconut sugar. (Was using Natvia for a while, but have gone off that.) Would be very keen to try your recipes with pure stevia powder.

  • Yes! Yes!! I don’t think there’s much of a question about people wanting such a cook book! With the methods used to raise & store wheat and the rising health problems we see today from over consumption of both grains and sugar, a lot of us are needing help and guidance. I mostly gave up on baking but would love to have good recipes for the occasional “need”. Thank you!

  • Hi Jules,
    I’m interested in low sugar, low carb cooking, but I am not sure how I feel about Stevia. I’ve read conflicting articles over the years.

  • The first recipe I made from this side. It’s tasty and easy to make. I ate it for diner and lunch the next day. Really appreciate the extensiveness of the posts. It includes all steps in text as well as a video. Looking forward to trying some more of your recipe’s.

  • Low sugar, low carb! Yes, I’d love your cookbook :)
    I love your simple style already, but with that twist, I’d love it even more.

  • I have recently been diagnosed with diabetes and am still struggling. I am 82 and am not at all sure what to do. I am living on salads for lunch and small amount of meat, vegs and sweet potato – sometimes a small amount of potato – for dinner. I seem to get a higher reading when I have bread with my salad, so have stopped that. So a recipe book that wasn’t too expensive would be helpful.

    • Hi Dorothy! My biggest tip for you is to make sure you’re eating lots of fat so you get the fuel you need. I eat lots of avocado and nuts and mayo and drizzle olive oil on everything… Hope that helps Jx

  • Hi Jules, I’m new to your blog and love the recipes! I also bought your book 5 Ingredients 10 min cookbook. Would you tell me how a typical day would look like food wise? I have trouble eating raw veggies though. I also have diabetes in my family and was almost diabetic, but I lost 15lbs and so far so good. Thanks!

  • Yes, I would love a sugar-free, healthy low carb baking guide. I love your simple 5 ingredient recipe format. A straight forward minimal ingredient healthy low carb baking cookbook would complete my library!
    Thanks Jules

  • I too would be interested in sugar free / low carb baking. My only fear is that most of what I’ve seen in that genre incorporates nuts…and I am allergic to nuts :-(

  • I would be interested! I had gestational diabetes also, and am a vegetarian and am pre-diabetic now, so I need to limit my carb intake so really appreciate the recipes and veggie substitutions/
    suggestions!

  • Hello! I would be very interested in this. Low sugar baking and recipes has been an obsession of mine for 2 years. I only use rice syrup as a sweetener ( prob not ok for people with diabetes ?) and am struggling converting the huge amounts of sugar in traditional recipes to a small amount of rice syrup. I ve been trying to replace the lost volume of sugar by pureed pumpkin or banana which works really well in cakes but it is quite hard with things like cookies that go too soft. I have a whole evernote file with low sugar recipes i d happily share though or i can send you a selection!

  • I would be extremely interested in a low carb, low sugar/sugar-free cook book. I’d also love to see gluten free added to the mix as well. My doctor has told me to avoid all three things in my diet.

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