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I know this post won’t be of interest to everyone but I feel the need to share it. As some of you may know from a previous post, “Pregnancy, Paleo and Pickles”, I am pregnant with twins and maintaining my Paleo diet as best I can. As my first trimester came to an end so did most of the nausea, and cravings for carbohydrates that I battled semi-successfully, meaning I incorporated a few more carbohydrates than I ate pre-pregnancy. I was able to keep it all organic, gluten-free and unprocessed. Toward the end of my second trimester, like with my first two pregnancies along came my least favorite test. The OGTT or Oral Glucose Tolerance Test to test for Gestational Diabetes. I assumed that due to my Paleo diet any kind of diabetes would not be a concern for me. You can imagine my surprise when I received the call from my doctor’s office that I failed the 1 hour OGTT by one measly point and that they needed me to come in to take the 3 hour test. How could this happen?!!!! Must have been a total fluke. There is no way! I know I am not diabetic, maybe I should just refuse to take it. After all, there is no way ingesting a concentrated form of processed liquid sugar in 5 minutes was good for me or my babies in any way. However, what has been drilled into my head is that I am 42 and having twins. These 2 facts catapult me into the high risk pregnancy category. I sucked it up and went in for the 3 hour test which I dreaded. It meant fasting from dinner time the night before, chugging down an even more concentrated processed bottle of liquid sugar and having my blood drawn 3 times over the next 3 hours. NOT FUN!

During my next visit I got the results. I failed all three blooded draws. My blood glucose levels were too high. Apparently my body was not metabolizing all the excess sugar I had subjected it to fast enough. I was devastated. I came home and pondered the reason why this happening to my body. The fact that I had 2 placentas kicking out lots of hormones blocking the insulin my pancreas produces from doing its job was not a reason I wanted to accept. My Paleo diet is supposed to me make me bulletproof (exaggeration obviously) right? Once the  denial and aggravation subsided I began thinking logically. Hmmmmm…..its been about 3 years since my body has been subjected to processed sugar, let alone that much sugar (100 grams)consumed in 5 minutes or less. I don’t ever eat or drink anything close to that EVER! I’m actually not surprised my body didn’t know how to metabolize it. Its really kind of silly to run a test to see how my body reacts to a form of calories I never eat. As most of you know the vast  majority of people do not eat a Paleo diet and consume far more carbohydrates than they actually need. Unfortunately, for many, those carbohydrates are of the most damaging variety, processed foods, sugars and grains. I was very curious to see how my blood glucose would test when I eat the way I normally eat.

The protocol for me following the test failure was to see a dietician (oh joy) who will put me on a special diabetic diet (sketchy) and test my blood sugar using a glucometer 4 times a day (awesome). So I met with the dietician who was a very nice, well-meaning woman who asked me a lot of questions about my current diet and was astute enough to notice my diet was actually very similar to the one she was going to tell me to follow (save the whole grains and dairy recommendations) She commented that I obviously understood nutrition better than most of the women she sees. She also noted how I had not one other symptom of Gestational Diabetes at all. My weight gain was fine, a little below what was expected actually but not alarmingly so. My babies are growing right in the 50-something percentile, so they were not growing abnormally large. My fluid levels were fine and my blood pressure was low. Hmmmmm….when we discussed what the Paleo diet is, to my surprise she was relatively supportive and said, “You will make an interesting case study for me.”

This is my first week of tracking my blood sugar. To be completely honest, I ignored the calorie recommendations, meaning I’m not  counting them. I am sticking to the way I eat normally and testing my blood sugar religiously. Not one reading has been problematic. My blood sugar ranges between 75 fasting to 115 on the high-end if I happen to eat a piece of fruit or something. Based on these findings I feel a bit vindicated. Look, I stopped eating  all those carbs and sugars 3 years ago because I KNEW HEY MADE ME FEEL CRUMMY. DUH! I went online and did some research and found the following articles about both Paleo and lower carb diets in general and glucose tolerance.

The first two are specific to Paleo and why a OGTT reading might give misguided results and what to do about it. Basically, if I had cargo-loaded 3-4 days prior to my test I probably would have passed it. Lesson learned. The last article I found fascinating. It doesn’t relate to the Paleo Diet specifically but it does discuss research on non-industrial cultures eating their native diets and how these populations react to an OGTT. The populations that ate a native diet high in carbohydrates passed the test with flying colors while the populations whose native diet was naturally low in carbohydrates failed it. Both types of populations were healthy, free of chronic modern deceases etc. So, bottom line, if your body is used to a lower carb diet and used to burning fat for fuel rather than glucose, standardized OGTT is probably irrelevant. Robb Wolf  below indicates which tests might be more relevant including an HbA1C test.

My best advice for those of you in my position, pregnant and maintaining a Paleo Diet especially if it is a lower carb version, go into your doctors office armed with your facts and confidence. Do what you feel is right for your baby and you. Don’t be afraid to listen to your body and take a little more control over the whole process.

http://robbwolf.com/2010/09/06/gestational-diabetes-what-constitutes-low-blood-sugar/

http://freetheanimal.com/2010/11/gestational-diabetes-and-paleo-you-horny-women-you.html 

http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/11/glucose-tolerance-in-non-industrial.html

 

Until Next Time,

~ Laura, MGP

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3 Responses to “Paleo, Pregnancy and Gestational Diabetes”

  1. Camelia says:

    Good for you! I had a very simar experience where I was told not to crossfit and I had GD. It was my third baby in three years so I ignored it and listened to my body. No issues through pregnancy or
    Natural delivery. Keep up with what feels right

  2. Maggie says:

    Thank you very much for this post!! It is SO helpful!

  3. annalisa says:

    THANKYOU!! i have read about 20 different articles (only 2 that you have mentioned above) about GD and trying to find alternative solutions to eating, and yours is brilliant. Proof that paleo works. I’m not on a paleo diet yet (though i think may just try alter a few things now), but healthy, fit, i eat minimal grains, high fat and have put on 4kgs my whole pregnancy and felt a million dollars! I am taking a second test as i didn’t believe the first one, and if its still high then i will see the dietician and endocrinologist . Lucky for me my sister in law is a nutritionist who isn’t stuck in a clinical world full of ridiculous dietary guidelines, so she has been helping me overcome the craziness of accepting the diagnosis. I think the hardest thing is feeling like your body has failed you, but maybe we just have really amazing hormone producing placentas!! x

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