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Let me eat cake

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I heard two words from my doctor two weeks ago that I didn’t bank on hearing: gestational diabetes.

Being just shy of eight months pregnant and not having a very fun time of things, I didn’t take the news well. I was pretty bummed out.

He told me in no uncertain terms that I could not have the very foods I was craving: no white potatoes, sweets or bread. Pizza and doughnuts were two things I have consistently craved since the second month of my pregnancy. Really? No pizza? No potato salad? What do you mean, no Danish?

My brain had a hard time grasping the concept. The universe was obviously playing a cruel joke on me.

I moaned internally about how I wasn’t going to be able to live without giving in to my powerful pregnancy cravings. Whenever one grips me, I behave like a junky in search of a fix. I will stop at nothing until I can satiate that craving, no matter how many stores I have to go to, how bizarre it might seem or whether my husband gives me repeated looks wondering if I have lost my mind.

My brain frantically switched into problem-solving mode, trying to devise ways to cheat the glucose meter, my constant companion because I have to use it four times a day. Surely I could have a helping of potatoes or a little ice cream or just a half a doughnut and nobody would be the wiser.

But the meter couldn’t be cheated, mocking me and judging me with the number it spat back at me as it recorded hard evidence of my transgressions.

I wasn’t about to let it win. I grudgingly held onto the idea I could cheat. I was obviously doing it wrong and had to revise my technique to outsmart the wretched, beeping thing.

Then I did some reading about gestational diabetes and got a grip.

The first thing I learned is that most of the time women who have it give birth to healthy babies. Ha! Take that, glucose meter!

That smug feeling faded as I read on. Most of the time does not mean all the time. A common complication is a baby that grows too large for natural childbirth and has to be delivered by C-section. Ouch. No thanks. My baby could also be delivered early, have respiratory distress syndrome, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), jaundice and Type 2 diabetes later in life.

It could also cause complications that could put both of our lives in danger.

The craving for chocolate cake with butter cream frosting I had been wrestling mere moments before reading about these possibilities made me feel kind of sick.

There was no choice. I had to buck up, face the music and follow the diet guidelines I was given.

So I did. My blood sugar readings look good, and I no longer want to smash my glucose meter to bits. My doctor is pleased with my choices.

Most importantly, I feel better. And as long as I am a good little girl who eats what she is supposed to eat, I won’t have to worry about the harm wacky blood sugar levels could do to me and my unborn daughter.

It hasn’t been easy. Far from it. And I feel bad for my poor husband who is collateral damage in my need to ditch all the starchy goodness I want to eat but can’t have.

I have also developed a newfound respect for people with Type 2 diabetes who have to radically change their diets after going their entire lives eating whatever they wanted. Until you walk a mile in their shoes, you just don’t know how hard it is to shun all the things diabetics aren’t supposed to have, which is basically everything that tastes good. It’s hard. I understand why hospitals offer diabetes support groups and how important they are to people who need help changing their lifestyles.

But for all the whining and complaining I have done, when it gets right down to it I think my misfortune has a positive side. I am, after all, eating all the good stuff I should. Keeping it up will improve my overall health long after little Della Violet is born. The changes I am making will be worthwhile far into the future.

In the meantime, however, that chocolate cake craving is still haunting me. Instead of breaking down and running straight to the bakery, though, I’ve been on a quest to find a recipe that doesn’t use white flour, calls for as a little sugar as possible and uses no artificial sweeteners. My research has yielded a few ideas, including substituting black beans for flour — it sounds too weird not to try — or using almond flour and substituting honey for refined sugar. I’ll report back on my findings in a future column.

If anybody has any good ideas to help me have my cake and eat it, too, I’d love to hear them. Drop me an email at egraham@wdt.net or mail your suggestions to 308 Isabella St., Ogdensburg, 13669.

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