There are some things we intrinsically know; things like ‘vegetables are good for you’ and ‘sugar is not’. And then there’s the information we learn when we find out we have a certain health issue, like I need to eat more ________ to heal from _________.
But there’s one universal truth that we all agree upon whether or not you experience this directly.
What a woman eats while pregnant affects her child’s health.
And this single indisputable truth inspires the work I do with pregnant women, especially those with gestational diabetes.
Today’s post comes from a nutrition colleague of mine whose interest in nutrition was inspired by her diagnosis of gestational diabetes while pregnant with her son.
Male or female, pregnant or not, this story is one that can inspire you to view a potential health set back as a blessing in disguise.
The Good News about Gestational Diabetes
By Brigitte Factor, MS, NTP
“You’ve failed miserably.”
That is the first thing the perinatologist said to me when she walked in the room. No cordial greeting or warm smile. I had been labeled a failure before she even met me.
The doctor’s greeting hit me hard. The results of my glucose tolerance test were not satisfactory. I required the intervention of a specialist to make sure my baby would be born healthy. I had to set aside my disdain for her lack of bedside manner and listen to what I had to do. I would do anything for my baby.
That particular moment, although unpleasant, was the best news I could have received. My baby’s health was at stake and things needed to change. I could no longer hide from my own health issues; I needed to address this head on.
I attended the diabetes education classes and started monitoring my blood sugars. I kept a meticulous food log and followed the diet laid out for me. As my pregnancy progressed my blood sugars kept creeping up and I needed to use medication to help keep them under control.
By the end of my pregnancy the doctor was pleased with my efforts and said I was one of the best patients she had. My baby was born naturally without any complications. I celebrated with one of those soft sugar cookies with blue icing (not the best idea in retrospect). I had a healthy baby boy.
That is not the end of the story. When I returned for my postnatal glucose test, I failed again. It wasn’t just my pregnancy that brought on the blood sugar issues. It was the unhealthy lifestyle silently degrading my health and the pregnancy gave it a voice.
Hey, you are not taking care of yourself, and now your baby’s life is at stake.”
I had learned a lot from my dietitian and was fascinated by the interaction of nutrition and health. So I started reading books to learn more about the science of nutrition.
I was able to control my blood sugars eating a real food diet and making exercise a priority.
I didn’t need to count calories or burn myself out on the treadmill. I just needed to eat quality food, build some strength and get adequate sleep. These simple changes in my life had a profound effect and I wanted to share this good news with others. What I learned through this process sparked a fire in me to change careers and get a nutrition certification. Now I’m telling others about the good news of real food.
That painful moment with the doctor turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me. The diagnosis of gestational diabetes was exactly what I needed to wake up to reality. What started out as a difficult trial, turned into a life-changing blessing.
Have you ever had a diagnosis that at first seemed rather grim, but ended up being a motivator for change? Share your story in the comments below.
Brigitte Factor is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and yoga instructor with a Master’s degree in Chemistry and dual Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Biology. She is part science nerd, holistic health counselor and evangelist. Her mission is to empower women to transform their physical, mental and spiritual health by providing them with the tools necessary to be the fit person God created them to be. She provides online Nutritional Therapy consultations through her business Life Beautiful Functional Health (www.life-beautiful.com).
Thanks Brigitte, for sharing your inspiring story!
As I prepare to speak for another medical conference on gestational diabetes (this time about the critical role of adequate vitamin D for mom and baby), Brigitte’s story reminds me why I love working with pregnant moms. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of motivating a mom to take action and knowing that her habits will have a lasting positive impact on her and her child’s future.
UPDATE: It’s because of women like Brigitte that I compiled all the research behind a real food, lower carbohydrate diet into a book called Real Food for Gestational Diabetes. This diagnosis really isn’t a bad thing when you know how to manage it!
Until next week,
PS – Do you have gestational diabetes? Learn the 5 keys to managing your blood sugar, naturally HERE!