Checking the Gestational Diabetes Recipes Facebook page one day, I opened an email from Natalie and received a rush of love as she shared her roller-coaster ride with gestational diabetes and gave my San Choy Bau recipe a huge thumbs up. Like many of us, Natalie was momentarily derailed by her diagnosis but now looks back on it as a positive turning point in her life.
GDRecipes: What does a day in your life looks like at the moment?
Natalie: I am currently a stay at home Mum, so my day consists of looking after Mia, cooking, cleaning and I go to the gym 2-3 times a week.
GDRecipes: You were diagnosed with GDM during your pregnancy with your first child. How did you take your diagnosis? Were you at-risk of diabetes?
Natalie: There is a family history of diabetes, but I didn’t think of the possibility of having it, as there are many tests during pregnancy, I just thought it would be another routine test that I would pass. When I was told I had GDM I was in complete shock and I was very upset, it didn’t make any sense to me as I was a healthy weight.
GDRecipes: Did you feel emotionally supported at that time?
Natalie: I had a lot of emotional support from my family and friends and my online mothers group (a few members had GDM also) but particularly my Mum, who helped me through every step, she is my back bone and I don’t know what I would have done without her.
GDRecipes: What did you find the hardest with GDM?
Natalie: The lifestyle change that it involved, and simple things such as going out to dinner and not being able to eat what others are eating. I come from a family where food is a way to socialise, and being restricted was the biggest challenge for me. Also, not being able to eat mangoes (as my blood sugar would sky rocket) which was what I craved throughout my pregnancy was also very difficult to adjust to.
GDRecipes: On a day-to-day level, how did your life change at that time?
Natalie: At the start, I was able to control my blood sugar with healthy eating and exercise. Every time I would eat a meal, I would go for a walk directly afterwards. Gradually, I was unable to control my blood sugar with what I was doing, so I was put on insulin.
GDRecipes: How did your husband go with it all? Were there any changes for him?
Natalie: As it was only me and my husband in our household, he had to get used to my new dietary requirements and I’m sure it was a struggle for him at the beginning too. But over time, we both learned to deal with my diabetes, and he eventually got used to it and one time he even surprised me by making a sugar-free ice cream as he knew I needed some form of normalcy during my pregnancy.
GDRecipes: Are there any recipes that became favourites? What was it about them that worked so well for you?
Natalie: My favourite was the San Choy Bau as it was filling and was very easy to make.
GDRecipes: You told me that high blood glucose readings would often have you in tears. What upset you most about this?
Natalie: What used to get me upset is that I would put in all this effort to get my blood glucose levels down – like watching what I ate, exercising, etc. and then when I looked at the readings and they were still not as low as I anticipated them to be, I felt defeated most of the time. I guess eventually I had to accept not to be so hard on myself and just focus on getting myself ready for the delivery of Mia.
GDRecipes: Was there anything positive that came from your experience with GDM?
Natalie: I think I have been more health-conscious since. After this experience I have been more aware of what is and isn’t good for me, and it will definitely help me prepare for my next pregnancy.
GDRecipes: How is life now? Has GDM had a lasting impact on you?
Natalie: Life has been great. When Mia was born, I had forgotten all the challenges that I had been through during my pregnancy, and it has definitely had a positive impact on my lifestyle. I enjoy exercising now, and eating healthy, nutritional foods, which I will pass onto my daughter.