Eating for Two

As of today, I am 28 weeks pregnant. Some people would divide that by four and say I am seven months. Sounds good to me. I will be full term in 9 weeks but could have baby Bindu as far off as 14 weeks from today.

Last appointment I had to do the 1 hour glucose test and failed, much to my surprise. I thought gestational diabetes was for women having super-sized babies. This kid is teeny, measuring the same size that my daughter measured when she was in-utero. But, in my research, I did find that even women with small babies can be at risk. I had two risk factors working against me–a familial history of diabetes on both my bio mother and bio father’s sides and the very unattractive labeling of *Advanced Maternal Age* on my chart. Not cute.

Friday I took the 3 hour Glucose Tolerance Test, an evil, evil torture for pregnant women. I had to fast 8-10 hours before the test but, due to the time that I finished dinner the night before and the fact that the birth center had forgotten to fax over the order to the lab, I ended up fasting 16 hours before drinking the glucose drink. After a total of 5 blood draws and a huge sugar crash, I drove myself home in a comatose state before completely passing out for the remainder of the day. Would have been nice if someone tipped me off that I should not drive myself.

Today I got the good news! No gestational diabetes. However, this body is not perfect. My first blood draw exceeded the maximum count and the next two were borderline passing. Thankfully my final number put me under and in the clear. If I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes the home birth would have been off, the birth center would not be an option and I would be checking into the hospital when I went into labor. Disaster averted.

But the midwife did say I need to watch my sugar. Basically, we’ve discovered that I am predisposed to diabetes, so better to modify my diet now and avoid any diagnosis in the future. I am glad I have been tipped off but a little bummed out nonetheless. I thought 21 years as a vegetarian would save me from many health crises–especially those that are largely behavioral. Although I like to think I eat a healthy diet since fast food and processed packaged food are not on my menu, I have to admit that I do consume a lot of sugar. A lot of sugar.

Gone are the days of my carefree youth. I welcome in an era of whole grains and scant sweetener. The timing is perfect since the Gaudiya Vaishnava month of Kartik is right around the corner. This month is the mother of devotion and spiritual practitioners performing austerities throughout Kartik are rewarded with the opportunity to gain deeper appreciation and knowledge on their devotional path. Sounds great, right? Only I wasn’t really planning on performing any austerities. You know, other than being a host for this sweet little parasite that is sucking the life out of me taking over my body growing inside me.

For me, eating and cooking are huge pleasures. And, once I really think about it, I put sugar in practically everything! But my eating and my cooking–my main ways  of expressing love and spirituality–are in for an overhaul. Cooking will still go on, but my eating must become more ascetic. And my family will be along for the ride.

Let’s tour some recent foods cooked up in the Sabjimata kitchen:

Soccer team's snack--pizza roll. A no-no for my new diet, unless I switch to whole wheat flour.

Another soccer practice snack--Vegan blueberry muffins based on the PPK Vegan Cupcakes vanilla cake recipe. Another no-no.

Vegan chocolate cupcakes topped with non-vegan frosting. A no-no that I will most likely cave to when the occasion arises.

While getting some spices down from a cabinet in my laundry room, I ended up spilling a package of methi (fennugreek) seed. All over the unfinished concrete floor. Embracing the ethos of waste not want not, I swept up the seeds, wrapped them in a moist cloth and sprouted them for planting. Methi sak, as fenugreek greens are known in Hindi, will be a good bitter boost to my diet.

The fenugreek is coming up!

Although I did buy a variety of gorgeous pumpkin seeds, we decided to hold off planting them until we built some raised beds. But a couple of weeks ago I made a pumpkin pie and scattered the pumpkin seeds around the yard. Yesterday I noticed a few strong shoots sprouting up in our garden and feel it is a safe gamble to bet these pretty green plants are pumpkins to be.

Vegan bean bowl with brown rice. This has been the kind of stuff I have been eating throughout most of the pregnancy and seems like it will be what I will be eating throughout most of my life. I added a little tofu to this to please the husband. Additionally, I try to have iron rich greens with some acidic veggies--tomato and bell pepper--to aid in the absorption.

Another bean bowl minus the beans. That's what happens when you forget to pre-soak. This beanless bean bowl has spinach, tofu and plantain, which I suspect is not low glycemic.

These dishes are not at all austere for me. I tend to repeat the same spicing from bean bowl to bean bowl–salt, pepper, curry leaf, dry roasted cumin, turmeric and ginger. I’m definitely a creature of habit. I will be staying away from my morning cup of fair trade cocoa and all the baked goodies I make my family. Some things, like the pumpkin pie I plan on baking tomorrow, will be modified to include a whole wheat spelt crust and a super huge reduction in sucanat.

If you have any tips, suggestions or encouragement for a happy vegetarian low glycemic diet, please feel free to share!

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11 Comments

Filed under baking, kitchen tips, sabjimata, vegan

11 responses to “Eating for Two

  1. I had gestational diabetes for all three pregnancies. It was always controlled by diet, and all of my babes were healthy with normal blood sugar levels. The biggest thing I learned was to not have sugar in the mornings (no juice or fruit, etc.) and to always pair carbs with proteins. So never just a piece of bread. Always a piece of bread with some cheese or peanut butter. Nuts are a great protein source. Beans are also generally good. I also ate a lot of cheese and eggs, but those would be ruled out in a vegan diet, yes? Good luck! I’m glad that you’re can still fulfill your birthing goals.

    • sabjimata

      Thanks Gena! Actually, I am not vegan but a “lacto vegetarian” who tries to limit the dairy. The carbs with protein advice is a good one. I bought cottage cheese today and am trying to acclimate myself to the taste and texture (was never a big fan) but have read mixed stuff about it online. I can’t figure out why it would be a problem though.

      Oh, and I am still waiting for those pics! Someone on GW just posted pictures of their installed soapstone…on green cabs. You guys need to start a green cab thread!

  2. padi

    I love your photo documentation. Now when the midwives ask about your diet, you can just give them your URL. Dd, ignoring the buns that I brought round earlier, I’d like you to know I’m in full support of your low-sugar diet. How do dumplings and ravioli fare do you reckon?

    • sabjimata

      Yes….”please refer to my blog!”. LOL….those buns were a wonderful farewell departure to sugar! As if. You know I am not going to be able to do this perfectly…to much of a sweet tooth. But I definitely want my sugar intake to be meaningful–delicious, full of love, surrounded by friends. Thank you so much for the buns. You should sell them to pay for your grad school! I don’t think dumplings and ravioli fare well….but I will def put them in the “treat” category. Can’t give up my favorite foods. Oh, btw, I had the pesto on ww pasta yesterday…..SALTY! You are a very tolerant friend xo

  3. Ekavali Dasi

    For the times when you absolutely need some sweetness, why don’t you look into alternative sweeteners. My first thought is raw agave nectar from Oh Gave. They say its a 17 on the GI scale which is quite good. There is also stevia, ( though I don’t really enjoy the aftertaste). I agree with Gena that you need to combine a protein with a carb to bring the GI down. I started adding soy flour to my chappatis and it really brings up the protein. I actually do a mixture of wheat, soy, oat, barley and psyllium husk. But the soy flour is the most important ingredient. I’ve been tracking my diet and realized that I’m seriously lacking in protein. I thought my staple of rice and dhal gave me plenty of healthy protein. So surprised to find out that I fell way behind and had way too many carbs (which is not great for your sugar issue).Especially being pregnant and with this sugar issue, you need to focus on protein. Adding nutritional yeast to your food may also be a good idea. Hope this was helpful!:)

    • sabjimata

      Wow! That chapati flour mixture sounds serious. Do your chapatis puff? Does your husband eat the same chapatis as you? I was reading on a website today about adding soy flour to stuff. Sounds like a lot of culinary experimentation ahead of me. Thanks so much Ekavali! I too feel that with the veg diet it is easy to get bogged down with carbs and not have enough protein. When I was fearing being diagnosed with gestational diabetes I was freaking out over what I would eat. Seems so much easier for a meat eater because there is so much more variety of…animals. Our pleasure tends to come from grains.

  4. Great to read your posts again. I always do actually. And I ALWAYS get hungry seeing your food pics. It is so what I would like to eat every day.

    Best of luck with your Gestational Diabetes. My ex had it while carying Nitai. It went away after birth with careful control.

    Happy last trimester!

    Uncle Kurma

  5. Ekavali Dasi

    It’s really not that serious! LOL! I buy the soy, oat, barley, etc…mix and then I add it to my normal wheat atta. I actually prefer this mix to just wheat. My chapatis are softer and actually puff easier, and yes my husband and son eat them happily. I’m a big fan of soy flour. I even use just plain soy protein powder that I add to my sabjis and soups, etc…It gives gravies a nice consistency and doesn’t hamper the flavor.I even make homemade protein bars. I do admit to needing some soy alternatives in my life. Still trying to work out the kinks;)

  6. That last dish without the beans, would have been excellent with some other herbs like, galangal and a bit of allspice topped of with ground black pepper, lovely alternative for ginger, cumin and kurkuma.

    I read somewhere that cinnamon in very low quantities is helpful with gestational diabetes.

    And wonderful idea with the pizza roll 😀 Looks yummy!

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