This week, we're excited to feature a guest post from Whitney Stuart of Whitness Nutrition. Whitney shares how to eat to maintain balanced blood sugar during pregnancy, and her favorite #trashpandaapproved foods as swaps to typical options. Whether you're pregnant or not, it's important for everyone to strive for balanced blood sugar. Want to save her favorites? Be sure to check out the full list of Whitney's picks in the Trash Panda App.
Why Blood Sugar Matters
You’ll want to start early on your balanced blood sugar journey, because during pregnancy, the placenta secretes hormones that make your body less responsive to insulin. Yes, this naturally makes you more insulin resistant during pregnancy. In 90% of cases, the pancreas secretes more insulin to combat this resistance and keep blood glucose under control.
However, gestational diabetes develops when the pancreas is unable to secrete enough insulin to overcome the insulin resistance, because there was already a baseline of insulin resistance on board.
Hence, the importance of early awareness, accurate labs and testing prior to conception. Optimizing your diet before you even conceive can make a huge difference!
Insulin resistance during pregnancy is the primary cause of gestational diabetes. How to decrease your insulin resistance, now? Read on!
Gestational Diabetes 101
Gestational Diabetes is on the rise in the United States. Every year, 2% to 10% of pregnancies in the United States are diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
The rise in gestational diabetes is linked to a poor-quality diet, sedentary lifestyle, and having an overweight or obese body status.
Early identification of this condition is important; as a prevention-based dietitian I recommend having your fasting insulin checked PRIOR to pregnancy.
Short-term risks include: large for gestational age newborns, birth trauma, and neonatal respiratory and metabolic complications
Long-term risks include an increased risk of development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the parent, and later-life obesity and type 2 diabetes in the offspring.
The silver lining? Successful management of blood sugar greatly decreases the short and long-term risks associated with gestational diabetes! And 95% of the time this can be done solely through strategic lifestyle changes!
Other Benefits of Balanced Blood Sugar During Pregnancy
Stable blood sugar reduces the incidence of gastrointestinal symptoms that can worsen your nausea. Although easily digestible foods like crackers, cookies and cereal can sound like the best thing for your hard mornings - I urge you to pivot for an option that promotes blood sugar bliss. Aim for a product with a nut and seed based flour, or whole grains; both reduce the glycemic impact. Or pair your saltines with a warm protein-rich bone broth.
Instead of riding the emotional lonely carb rollercoaster from one hangry moment to the next, stay cool, calm and collected with low glycemic meals that promote fullness and stable energy. No hungry mood swings for you, mama!
Reduced unintentional weight gain / supports satiety
Although weight gain is unique to each individual during pregnancy, eating a large quantity of lonely carbs is only going to exacerbate the gain of unneeded fat. When blood sugar is low, and stable, throughout the day, hunger signals are more accurate and you can naturally, intuitively, eat when your body needs to!
Hyperglycemia, high blood sugar, creates a state of inflammation which makes it entirely impossible for the body to heal. The window of postpartum is devoted to building milk supply and healing your body after labor and/or surgery. Both of these key tenants require anti-inflammatory support to heal quickly. The best way to do that? Blood sugar bliss, of course!
Because diet is the foundational intervention for gestational diabetes, focus your efforts here! I love to start with swaps instead of elimination because it’s important to have easy options to grab and to feel prepared for success. Build a confident kitchen with these swaps.
Dietitian approved swaps for blood sugar bliss!
(Plus you can find all of these on the Trash Panda app)
The original offender: KIND Granola.
Concern: 45g of carb/serving, low in fiber, five different types of added sugars: tapioca syrup, cane sugar, honey, molasses, and brown rice syrup.
The swap: Purely Elizabeth Grain-free Granola - made with a variety of healthy fats such as sunflower seeds, cashews and MCT oil that support stable blood sugar. Contains 6g of sugar per serving - almost ½ the KIND granola! There is more fat than carbohydrate; an excellent way to support stable blood sugar.
Best way to enjoy it & achieve blood sugar bliss? Pair with greek yogurt, fresh berries and a sprinkle of chia seeds for a balanced snack or breakfast.
The original offender: Oikos Nonfat Vanilla Greek Yogurt.12g of carb and 12g of added sugar.
Blood sugar benefits: Plain non-fat Siggis yogurt contains 16g of protein per serving and only 4g of naturally occurring sugar per serving. That’s ⅓ of the sugar that comes in Oikos Vanilla yogurt! Bonus: it contains double the live cultures that Oikos does, making it a more gut-healthy option as well.
How to enjoy & achieve blood sugar bliss: throw in the blender with frozen berries, a serving of your favorite protein powder, a scoop of nut butter and a handful of spinach for an easy, protein-rich smoothie.
The original offender: Premium Saltine Crackers. Made with enriched white flour, 0g fiber, and 1g protein. Also contains both canola and palm oil.
Blood sugar benefits: The almond flour crackers are made from a seed and nut blend, consisting of almonds, sunflower and flax. Unlike Premium saltine crackers, that contain little to no protein or fat, a serving of Simple Mills almond flour crackers contain 3g of protein and 8g of healthy fats per serving. They also use high-oleic, expeller-pressed organic Sunflower oil which is lower in inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids compared to canola and palm oil.
How to enjoy & achieve blood sugar bliss: Make a balanced snack plate with sliced turkey meat, hummus, sliced veggies and a serving of almond flour crackers.
The original offender: International Delight French Vanilla creamer. 5g of carbs, 5g of added sugar, and inflammatory ingredients palm oil and carrageenan.
Blood sugar benefits: Nutpods contain no added sugars and use a base of coconut creams and almonds, which are excellent sources of heart healthy fats. The addition of healthy fat to your morning coffee will help slow the absorption of caffeine, as well as help keep your blood sugar stable. Compared to the 5g of added sugars in International Delights, Nutpods is naturally sugar-free.
How to enjoy & achieve blood sugar bliss: Froth and pair with your favorite brewed cup of coffee. Nutpods are an excellent swap for milk in baked goods such as protein pancakes or muffins, too!
The original offender: Swanson Organic Vegetable broth: 0g of protein, 2g of added cane sugar, and 800mg of sodium per serving.
Blood sugar benefits: FOND bone broth contains 14g of protein per serving and has no added sugar. Instead, they use gut-health supporting, nutrient-dense ingredients such as free-range poultry, fresh vegetables and immune-boosting spices. FOND also uses Redmond Real Salt that’s loaded with trace minerals you don’t get in traditional sea salt.
How to enjoy & achieve blood sugar bliss: use as a base for your favorite soup recipe or use as a 1:1 replacement when making rice. You automatically increase your protein intake, add glutamine, and reduce the glycemic impact of your rice!
The original offender: Chicken of The Sea Tuna: High in mercury and made with soybean oil and vegetable oil.
The swap: SafeCatch Tuna
Blood sugar benefits: Safe Catch is one of the only brands on the market that uses sustainable sourcing methods to pack and provide wild-caught, omega 3 fatty fish. The end result is high-quality, protein-packed and heart healthy canned tuna. Each serving has 24g of protein, and is packed in water, not inflammatory oils.
The original offender: Mission Soft Flour Tortillas: 26g of carbohydrates per tortilla and made with hydrogenated vegetable oil.
Blood sugar benefits: The ultimate high-protein, low carb swap for tortillas, Egglife egg white wraps are a great blood-sugar friendly option! Each tortilla contains 1g of carb and 5g of protein. Made from a simple base of egg whites and seasonings, they’re a great swap for tacos, wraps or even enchiladas! They’re also made without any artificial ingredients or added sugar; a real food first star!
How to enjoy & achieve blood sugar bliss: Take taco night up a notch, and load your Egglife tortillas with ground turkey, fajita veggies and sliced avocado. Cashew queso is a favorite taco topping in our house!
The original offender: Cinnamon toast crunch: Contains 12g of added sugar and is low in fiber.
Blood sugar benefits: Catalina Crunch is keto, grain-free and gluten-free friendly. It is lightly sweetened with monk fruit and stevia extract, both of which are low-glycemic naturally sourced sweeteners. One serving has 11g of protein and 4x as much fiber (9g) than your standard Cinnamon Toast Crunch!
How to enjoy & achieve blood sugar bliss: Top your bowl of plain -greek yogurt with Cinnamon Toast Catalina Crunch, a handful of berries and a sprinkle of extra cinnamon.
The original offender: Skippy Peanut Butter: made with 3g of added sugar per serving and hydrogenated vegetable oil.
Blood sugar benefits: Made with just two simple ingredients, peanuts and sea salt, Georgia Grinders peanut butter is one of the highest quality peanut butters on the market. No added oil or sugar makes for a healthy source of fat without any unnecessary additives. Two tablespoons has 1g of naturally occurring sugar, 14g of heart-healthy fats and 7g of plant protein. A serving of GG peanut butter is a blood-sugar friendly source of fat and protein!
How to enjoy & achieve blood sugar bliss: Make protein banana pancakes and liberally drizzle Georgia Grinders peanut butter over the top. Finish with a sprinkle of hemp seeds and cinnamon!
Chia seeds- not a swap, just an essential!
Motility support! Chia seeds are high in fiber, providing around 10g per 2 tbsp, and help support a healthy digestive tract.
Blood sugar benefits: Where to begin! The high fiber content of chia seeds increases feelings of satiety, which allows for adequate digestion time. In turn, this lowers the risk of a blood sugar spike following a meal! Furthermore, they’re high in omega 3 fatty acids which support heart and brain health. A serving of chia seeds contains 7g of fat, 10g of fiber and 6g of protein - that’s a beautiful balance for blood sugar!
How to enjoy & achieve blood sugar bliss: make the creamiest chia seed pudding with a full-fat coconut milk base, cacao powder and a splash of vanilla. Let sit overnight for ultimate thickness, and serve with low glycemic raspberries.
The Solution? Blood Sugar Bliss!
Whether you’re looking to improve your health for fertility (I recommend this a year prior to trying to conceive, optimally), reduce the chances of gestational diabetes for the first or second time, or are finally ready to make lifestyle changes to improve your A1C and diabetes diagnosis, Whitness Nutrition has a sustainable solution for you. And, it’s all through our blood sugar bliss method.
Where to begin on your journey to achieve blood sugar bliss? Take these 4 steps:
Get your labs done; request a fasting insulin, Hgb A1C and full lipid panel.
Wear a continuous glucose monitor to get regular updates on how your body responds to food, stress, sleep (or lack of it) and your overall lifestyle.
Assess your diet and make note of what causes your blood sugar to rise the most. Make blood-sugar friendly swaps with the help of the Trash Panda app; look for foods that are naturally low in sugar and high in protein.
Ready to get confident in your blood sugar bliss skills? Use our Gestational Diabetes course -a fully virtual, self paced program to improve blood sugar for fertility, reduce the risk of insulin needs, and reduce blood sugar.
Learn More About
Whitney Stuart, is a registered dietitian-nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES). Whitney focuses on real food for real joy, for real busy women. Her virtual practice, Whitness Nutrition, provides functional nutritional counseling for individuals ready to radically improve their health through blood sugar bliss and empowered education. Interested in working with Whitney? Book a free call and grab free resources on my website!