Getting Back to Intuitive Eating

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With my second pregnancy I was diagnosed with Gestational diabetes. The risk factors are if you are overweight, have a family history of diabetes, are over the age of 25, had gestational diabetes with a previous pregnancy, and are inactive. Well I was at a healthy weight, only 24, had a previous pregnancy without it, and run and lift on a regular basis. I literally did not have 1 risk factor. Oh well, it is what it is. I was going to do anything and everything in my power so it did not negatively effect the baby’s health or my own. I was told on a Friday about my positive result but wasn’t set up to see the nutritionist for another week. Lets just say Friday night was spend scouring google for meal plans and what foods I should stay away from. I was determined to follow the meal plan to a T so I would not have to be put on insulin. Here I am at 27 weeks, a couple days before I was diagnosed.

I did not have to calorie count, but I did have to carb count. I knew what a carbohydrate was. Bread, cereal, rice, etc. And I guess I knew that fruit was a carb but I never thought of it that way before. I thought of fruits and vegetables as “free” foods. They are so packed full of nutrients I wouldn’t worry about eating 3 apples if I wanted them. But my gestational diabetic body disagreed. I now had to count all fruit as carbs.

And the front view, beginning of the 3rd trimester…

I was given a meal plan by the nutritionist based on my body size. It ended up being 1700 calories a day. Um, are you serious? Didn’t you know I am pregnant? I ate more than that on a daily basis before being pregnant. So she gave me a new plan of 2500 calories. Much better. My new meal plan looked like this.

breakfast: 30 g carbs

snack: 15-30 g carbs

lunch: 45 g carbs

snack: 15 g carbs

dinner: 45-60 g carbs

snack: 30 g carbs

The carbs were use or lose. I couldn’t save up my afternoon snack carb allowance and then use it along with my dinner allowance. My body needed a steady dose to keep my glucose levels even. 190-210 g carbs per day, doesn’t look too bad right? But compared to my current 400 g a day, it was a change!

Do you know how many apples I could have for my afternoon snack? One really small one! And I mean really small, about the size of a plum. If I wanted a whole banana, I would have to use almost my entire lunch carb allowance for it. A banana for lunch, not too filling? Milk and yogurt have a lot of carbs too. A greek yogurt would take my entire breakfast allowance so I couldn’t even top it with fruit or granola. As you can see, things got a little difficult. It was hard to fit in the healthy carbs while still getting full. I finally figured out what worked for my body and how to get in enough calories while not going over my carb allowance and glucose levels. I was SO diligent about sticking to the plan. However, this took away all senses of intutitve eating. If I ate my breakfast and was still hungry. Oh well, I had to wait until snack time. And on the other end, if I wasn’t hungry for a snack, I had to eat it anyway to keep my blood sugar levels even.

I had to take my blood glucose levels 4 times a day. I never missed. I think I went over my threshold number 3 or 4 times my entire pregnancy, and just barely.  Not to say I am perfect but I am a paranoid pregnant person. I am one of those no caffeine, no artifical sweetener, no occasional glass of wine people. In my mind I would forever blame that one glass of wine if something went wrong with the baby. I would blame myself, that I caused it somehow, even though I know that’s not rational. Its just what I would have done. And I don’t judge women for drinking their morning coffee at all while pregnant, I kind of wished I could let myself be more laid back about it!

Since I was SO diligent about counting every single bite of carb that went into my mouth, I also kept track of calories to make sure I was getting enough. I was already having trouble gaining weight while pregnant since tests showed my metabolism was all revved up. I have never had it checked not pregnant so it may just be a pregnancy effect.

Literally the second they delivered the placenta, my gestational diabetes was gone. I could eat an entire cake if I wanted. I definitely went back to eating dessert and more carbs in the morning but I still found myself calculating carbs and calories in my head every time I ate. Even now, 6 months post-partum, I still do it. Its not intentional, but I just ingrained it in my head so much. I find myself starving a lot but I tell myself “you’ve already eaten 1000 calories at lunch, how could you want more?”. Well if I’m still hungry, then i must need more. I eat mostly healthy foods so that 1000 calories was a peanut butter and banana sandwich, a huge salad with avocado and sausage, an apple, yogurt and granola, some almonds, a brownie, and a 100 calorie pack of sun chips (my lunch today). But I am still hungry.

I need to get back to eating intuitively and somehow stop the counting in my head. Like most people, I eat a lot of the same foods. So while pregnant, I quickly learned the nutritional stats of those foods for easy tracking. But now I need to forget them. I am not worried about calories or carbs at all right now. I have fully incorporated them all back into my diet after pegnancy plus some! I just need to get the numbers out of my head. If I am hungry eat more, if i’m full then stop. Who cares if I’ve only eaten 2500 calories and 30o g carbs in a day or 4500 calories and 500  carbs. I just love carbs, especially whole grains and sweet potatoes.

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10 responses »

  1. Wow, that definitely sounds like it would be a difficult habit to break. I commend you for being so diligent to ensure your and your baby’s health. Perhaps you could ease back into it? Gradually incorporate slightly more fruit or your favorite cereal and see if you can step back into how you used to eat. Good luck!

  2. I went through a phase where I got a bit obsessive about calories, protein grams, etc. (not good!) and can definitely relate to the struggle to break that habit. It’s so hard to do when you know all of that information off the top of your head! I know one thing that’s helped me to break free is to put aside the measuring cups and spoons when cooking whenever I can. For example, measuring the peanut butter I put into my oats, smoothie, toast is unnecessary. Even if a recipe calls for a certain amount of oil, I won’t measure it and will just guesstimate. That way, I can’t know the number of calories and I have less dishes to do! Best of luck and we can talk more about this if you want 🙂

    • I am not restricting by any means. I eat about 3000-4000 calories per day since my body needs it right now but I just hate that I still mentally calculate that. I’m annoying myself doing it in my head, haha! And I am with you, I NEVER measure unless its for a baking recipe that isn’t mine. Most of my meals I make taste a little different each time I make them because I just pour a little of this and a lot of that. Its quicker and less dishes that way!

  3. It is so hard to break a habit! 🙂 I think that it will just come, one morning you will wake up and you won’t do it. 🙂 I am always concious of how many calories I am eating without even thinking about it. Also, it’s the same when it comes to burning calories. I need to know!!! 😉

  4. Thanks for the comment on my blog and thanks for posting this! I found out my results today and I do not have GD, but it’s something that I don’t think a lot of women are informed about. I knew it happened but I had no idea what the treatment was for it or anything about it at all.

    It has to be really hard to change your mindset from being so on top of what you’re putting in your body to more of a relaxed eating habit. I know I’m having a hard time just knowing how to maintain weight, my whole life has been either eat whatever and don’t worry about it, or loose weight. I’m finding out now that I can’t do that, I need some sort of structure or I’ll end up gaining 50 pounds this pregnancy. I’m glad I realized it now and not in a month or two when I’m thisclose to gaining 50 lbs.

    • so glad you don’t have it! For some reason so many more people are being diagnosed with it these days. It is hard finding the balance between eating healthy with treats mixed in to prevent slurging and falling off the wagon. I think people try to diet 100% of the time and its just impossible to make that a lifestyle. Its good you are watching your weight while pregnant and not just taking advantage of eating for two. it will be so much easier getting back into the swing of things when the baby is born this way!

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