Don’t eat borscht before the glucose tolerance test

First of all, I need to thank everyone who commented on my last post Is a Diaper Bag Really Necessary?  You all gave such great tips and I appreciate that so many of you took the time to help me out! Your responses were truly helpful and I will do another post about baby gear soon, but for now, there are more pressing issues on my mind that I need to write about. Well, one issue specifically – my diet. I consider myself to be a very healthy person. I can limit myself to one or two (homemade) treats if I’m craving something sweet. I make well balanced meals every day that are high in fiber and vitamins. We don’t eat processed food of any kind or food that is high in unhealthy fats. I drink the recommended 3-4 litres of water a day and exercise regularly. Sure, I splurge a little when I go to a restaurant, but overall we eat very healthy. So when I got the call from my midwife that the results of the blood and urine samples I gave on Monday “concerned” her, I was surprised and of course a little worried.

On Monday, I went for lunch at a Russian restaurant with my best friend. After lunch, I did my glucose screening test. It was a bad idea to do lunch and the test in that order…

At the restaurant, I ate a huge bowl of borscht (a soup made mostly from beets) which have a moderately high glycemic index, followed by crepes filled with mashed potatoes (!) which also have a high glycemic index.  The crepes weren’t even that good but the reviews I read online said they were the best so I had to try them. I may or may not have also had a few bites of cake as well… I was stuffed far beyond comfort when I waddled into the lab to do my glucose tolerance test. If you aren’t familiar with the glucose tests done in pregnancy, here’s a bit of info:

  • A glucose screening test is a routine test during pregnancy that checks a pregnant woman’s blood glucose (sugar) level.
  • A glucose tolerance test is done if a glucose screening test result is higher than normal. It is used to diagnose gestational diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar (diabetes) that starts or is found during pregnancy.

I’m sure by now you can guess where this is going – I failed the screening test. 😦

I have to go back to the lab for a glucose tolerance test tomorrow morning. I feel pretty confident that my huge lunch was the reason I failed the screening test, but I’d feel a lot better if I didn’t have any of the symptoms of Gestational Diabetes. Unfortunately, according to Baby Centre – “Gestational diabetes often doesn’t have any symptoms, but you may experience the following:

  • tiredness
  • excessive thirst
  • passing a lot of urine
  • blurred vision

ummm… doesn’t every pregnant woman experience these symptoms? I haven’t had any blurred vision, although it is a common pregnancy symptom even in non-diabetic women. I’m seeing my midwife in 10 days and I’m really hoping that she’ll tell me I passed the glucose tolerance test.

But that’s not all the midwife called to tell me. She also said I had a”very low” level of iron. I should have known because lately I’ve been feeling exhausted no matter how much sleep I get (and thankfully I am still sleeping soundly) and iron deficiency is associated with fatigue.  I think it’s because I don’t eat much meat. However, I do try to eat other foods high in iron, but apparently not enough. So I’m back on the liquid iron supplements and I swear I can already feel a difference in 3 days! Andino is taking the iron supplement too because he has the same diet as me and he says he notices a big difference in his energy levels too.

I have been a vegetarian on and off since I was 10 years old. I’m not a vegetarian now but I don’t like meat very much. I like most seafood though (sustainably harvested of course). I’d say we eat fish about once a week and chicken or beef about twice a week. On the days we are eating chicken or beef I take a teeny tiny portion and even then hardly ever finish it. Since I eat a semi vegetarian diet, I’m concerned about getting enough protein. Are there any other Veg Mamas out there who care to send me some healthy eating tips?

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26 thoughts on “Don’t eat borscht before the glucose tolerance test

      • Yep, that’s an East Coaster all right. 🙂 I sometimes think I’m adopted…I can’t stand the stuff. My dad used to go nuts when mom made fresh home-baked bread when I was a kid, he’d slather it in butter and molasses. Totally healthy.

  1. I’m vegetarian and I’ve had to work at getting enough protein. I make sure to include the following in my weekly/daily diet: non fat Greek yogurt (14 grams), peanut/almond butter (6 grams), cheese sticks (7 grams), beans, lentils, milk, Bread that has 5 grams per slice (make a sandwich with cheese and there’s at least 15 grams right there!), field roast products (fake meat that’s soy free. Has a lot of protein), Quorn products (also fake meat, soy free). Soy, like tofu has good protein but I’m avoiding soy due to endometriosis. I am also very low in iron so I’ve been taking iron supplements that also include one of the B vitamins which I think helps you absorb it better. Also take your iron at least 2 hrs away from any dairy for better absorption.
    Fyi, if you read Ina May Gaskins book Guide to Childbirth you will read that she says GD testing is often faulty and can cause unnecessary stress!

  2. I also failed the first test but l passed the second. I did read that gestational diabetes is more similar to juvenile in that your diet isn’t the culprit. You just either have it or don’t. And in a vegetarian who takes an iron supplement. I was told to take it with vitamin c foods for better absorption. I will second Greek yogurt and nuts for snacks. I had the problem though that in trying to increase protein I started eating way too much dairy. Good luck finding a balance!

  3. I’m not vegetarian but was raised veggie. My sister has remained vegetarian and just sailed through her pregnancy. It was always really important to my dad, a pediatrician, that we get plenty of iron and protein in our diets. To pack in the good stuff, echoing what others are saying, use beans as a main protein source the way others would use meat. I’m a huge fan of tempeh, also. Tempeh is made from soy but its fermented so it’s not phystoestrogenic if you’re concerned about such things. I love making tacos with marinated tempeh and black beans. So delish. Greek yogurt, EGGS, dark greens, nuts are all great additions. I personally think that non-fermented soy products – tofu and soy milk – in moderation are fine provided you’re not overly sensitive to them (endometriosis or other).
    If you are GD, don’t stress. Either you are or you aren’t, not a whole lot that you can do to cause it, just diet modifications to manage it. You sound like you’re all over it.

    • Oh my gosh I definitely need to try tempeh! I wonder if I will find it in my local grocery store… Thanks so much for all your tips! Do you eat much meat now or are you half and half like me?

      Thanks so much for the nice comment 🙂

  4. Note taken- No borscht before the GD test! Hoping you get a much better 2nd reading!

    There are so many great meatless ways to get added protein….quinoa/farro/ancient grains, greek yogurt, seeds/nuts & nut butters, cottage cheese/hard cheeses, eggs, beans/vegetarian chilis/hummus, lentils/legumes of all kinds, greens, and even some breads made from ancient grains contain a good amount per slice. Quinoa is kind of special because it’s a complete protein, meaning it contains every essential amino acid that the body needs. This is one area vegetarians need extra help with because they aren’t getting a full array of essential aminos typically. Try eating a spinach or kale salad each day and combine things things with iron + protein as toppings, or make big pots of warm salads like a quinoa, black bean, corn salad that you can just grab and eat anytime.

    There are also good protein powders out there that are free from artificial ingredients (Whole Foods carries some good ones). Mix with almond milk, almond butter & ice…yum! I don’t think a boca burger every once in a while would kill you, but there are so many better options out there than processed soy “fake foods”. Sounds like you don’t eat that stuff anyways, which is good. Ok, your blog has made me hungry now!

    • I do love quinoa. I am pretty good at mixing vegetarian foods to make complete proteins as well but I never figure out exactly how many grams I’m getting. I like cottage cheese, I should pick some up…Thanks for all the good tips!

      I have a natural protein powder but I haven’t been taking it. I felt weird taking it during pregnancy for some reason. Maybe I should start! I definitely try to avoid the processed/fake foods but I do treat myself to a veggie burger once in a while.

  5. Well I’ve never had borscht, but I’ll put that on the list not to eat before the test! How were the mashed potato stuffed crepes, I’ve only ever had sweet crepes, but these intrigue me. I hope that you pass the test and don’t have to worry about GD!

  6. Uh no you have to drink that aweful orange glucose stuff again! I was told to do the test in a fasted state, it makes sense as they measure the insulin spike from 50 grams of glucose and or fructose. I want borscht now thanks! 🙂

    Make sure you take your iron with vitamin c, folate and b vitamins for absorption, I liked Flora’s brand. Avoid calcium at the time you take iron as someone else mentioned, it prevents absorption as it’s such a large molocule. Caffeine also prevents absorption.

    If eating more soy and lentils I’d advise trying to eat traditionally fermented types, as that practice neutralizes lectins and phytates, which wounormalprevent absorption of proteins anotnutrients. Keep in mind most plant proteins are not complete. Do you like eggs? They’re a decent source of protein and iron, plus they have fat soluable d3 (fat included) & choline for mood! 🙂

    • I had to take the 75 gram glucose drink today! (the first time it was “only” 50) I felt so sick after! I hope I pass…

      I am taking Floradix with added Vit C. and away from my prenatal. There is also b vitamins mixed in. I remember that from my days as a health expert 😉

      I have been mixing my vegetarian meals to make complete proteins and avoiding soy. I want to try tempeh as someone mentioned above. It’s fermented and you said that was a good thing, right? Have you tried it? I’m eating eggs everyday but I’m worried that it might be too much cholesterol?

      • Tempeh isn’t bad I used to reat it. It’s a bit bland but has sort of an unami type flavour, good in stir fries, and because it’s fermented the nutrients are more bioavailable. Natto is also supposed to be great for nutrients but has a strong taste.
        Cholesterol isn’t a problem for most people, but stay away from trans fats like the plague!

  7. I had a hard time eating meat during my pregnancy. I actually had a huge aversion to it for the first 18 weeks or so. I tried to get protein with Greek yogurt, eggs, cheese, beans and nuts.
    I also failed my first glucose test then just barely passed the 2nd. My doctor still wanted me to eat a diabetic diet since I was borderline. I hated that orange drink and getting 4 blood draws in 3 hours was like torture since I am pretty needle phobic. Sorry you have to do the test. Hopefully you pass with flying colors! Good luck!

    • I had a huge meat aversion too! It’s not so strong anymore but I definitely don’t crave it.

      I’m so glad the test is over, I hope I pass! Was it hard to follow the diabetic diet? I’m going to look into it now… thanks!

  8. I also failed the first test by a measly 2 points and thought the 3 hour test was pretty brutal! I did pass though, and thank goodness cuz with a triplet pregnancy it would have been so hard to eat enough calories on a special diet! I hope you pass, but if not, I’m sure you’ll figure out the diet and do great…you seem pretty on top of eating healthy for yourself and your little peanut! For what it’s worth, I was also given the top to do vit c with iron…I had a hard time stomaching iron during pregnancy and the slow release iron was recommended. My stomach was much happier on that!

  9. I’m sorry you failed. Lunch wouldve definitely been the issue! I’ve battled with anaemia for years. I know spinach is high in iron and Vegimite (not that that helps you you’ll probably find it vile!) anyway hope your next lot of results are all good mama x

  10. My thoughts exactly when reading your list of symptoms! Doesn’t every pregnant woman experience those symptoms? Fatigue, excessive peeing, etc? I guess it’s fairly common for iron to be low in pregnancy. I had to take an iron supplement while I was pregnant, and after because I was slightly anemic.

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