When I was 5 months pregnant, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Before being diagnosed, I dealt with chronic stress, uncertainty, low self-esteem, isolation, and a whole lot of identity crises. The few days leading up to my diagnosis I was binging ice cream and pizza. My excuse was that I was eating for two - but really, I was extremely depressed (but eating for two sounded better and felt easier to accept).
I met with a dietitian and instead of helping me understand what was going on with my body, she made me feel as if it were my fault. She talked AT me instead of with me. I was told I was gaining weight too fast (I had gained 12 lbs in 3 months). Mind you, I’m growing an entire human inside of me... imagine being told you're gaining weight too fast while pregnant! She told me what I couldn't eat instead of teaching me to eat things that would nourish me and my unborn child. And as if everything she'd said to me wasn't enough - I now had to start monitoring my blood sugar after every meal.
After meeting with the dietitian I knew which foods to stay away from, but because I was mad as hell at the entire experience, I wanted to eat the "forbidden" foods even more. And regardless, EVERYTHING I ate made my blood sugar spike which made me feel completely out of control. I was miserable. I should have been enjoying this beautiful transition into motherhood, picking out baby names, taking pregnancy photos, etc. Instead, I felt trapped. I went from binge eating to not eating at all because I was "gaining too much weight", and that terrified me.
I was so confused and emotionally overwhelmed. On top of that, I felt completely isolated. My husband was working two jobs to support us at the time so I barely saw him. I was getting no social interaction and had no family to talk to. I was sleeping all the time just to avoid feeling anything when all I wanted was to feel NORMAL... If I had to prick my finger one more time, I was going to hurt someone... I was completely over it. I resented every other pregnant woman I saw, especially if they were bigger than me. I felt like I was cheated. Why did I end up with GD and they didn’t? They're smiling and happy, excited about being a new mommy and here I am - angry, wishing it was over, and with no idea how I was going to raise a healthy child when I had no idea how to keep myself in good health.
For so long diabetes made me feel like a dog with a collar and leash. I couldn't go too far left or right before the leash would jerk me back. My blood sugar, uncertainty, fears, etc. were the things pulling on the leash. While family gatherings, vacations, date nights, birthday parties, all the things I wanted to be a part of were to the left and right - just out of reach. All of those events would put food that was bad for me and my blood sugar too close for my comfort. The times I would give in and go out, I didn't feel I could truly enjoy myself without obsessing internally about my weight or feeling like I needed to somehow make up for the good time I had.
But even at home I still had the collar on reminding me I was being controlled even without the leash! Being constantly governed by something to the point that I wasn't enjoying my life. And in the rare times when the collar would come off, the binge eating started because in my mind I knew it was just a matter of time before the collar and leash were put back on - a punishment for doing something "bad" that I knew better. The cycle went on and on like that.
It's this "dog on a leash" mentality that so many people with diabetes are dealing with. Often it is silent. We're not shouting it from the mountain tops because it's depressing. It's hard and many of us feel like failures. Or feeling like people are living their best lives while we're trying to figure out where we fit into things.
Then, one day something in me clicked. I began to research everything I could about diabetes, food, sugar addiction, how to reverse diabetes, how to properly support my body - you name it, I was researching it. The day I had my son, was the day I started a plant-based lifestyle and it was the best decision I have ever made for both myself and my son.
I ended up getting my certification from the Nutritional Therapy Association and found my passion for helping people who are struggling, by learning how to manage my own struggle.
For most women, gestational diabetes goes away after the baby is born. Still, women who have had gestational diabetes have 3 to 7 times increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes within 5-10 years. Their child from that pregnancy also has an increased risk for both obesity and type 2 diabetes.
To be honest, I’m scared. Scared because although my gestational diabetes is gone, I’m still at risk for type 2 diabetes and my son is also at risk. My history of diabetes and my husband's history of obesity are things I always keep in mind. While diabetes is not genetically inherited, eating patterns can trigger certain genes that lead to diabetes and obesity.
My health journey is forever ongoing - I get tested every year for diabetes. I still struggle believe it or not (A LOT) with my blood sugar because I still struggle with binge eating and stress. Thankfully, I now have the tools to effectively manage my stress levels. This doesn't mean I never stress, but being more in tune with my body means stressful situations, and stress in general no longer alters my energy to the point that I have no control over it. Food is the one thing I can control that doesn't make me feel powerless. Understanding the power of REAL food and how to make food work FOR my body is what I am passionate about teaching others.
I refuse to leave people struggling in the dark. Because I've been there, and I understand how that feels. I now have the knowledge, the tools, and the connection to this condition to not only help people overcome diabetes, but deal with feeling low self-esteem, feeling a loss of self-control, and the thought that diabetes is a losing battle.
You don't have to live with diabetes for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, the fact that diabetes and heart disease are both preventable and reversible is some big kept secret. Welp - the secret is out now. Don't believe me? Do your research. There are people every day deciding to take their health back into their own hands. You can too. I am here to guide you, listen to you, and help you navigate this thing in the best way possible for YOU.
I've been where you are. I may not have had type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure but I lost my grandpa to heart disease at 50 after a heart transplant at 49. Can you imagine if he had known all he had to do was change his eating habits and exercise a little bit more? He may have been able to avoid the heart transplant and the heart attack that lead to his death. And then, maybe I would have gotten a chance to meet him.
My dad, my pride and joy, has high blood pressure. Due to my family’s history of heart disease, he never thought he'd live to see 50, let alone have children. But he's doing something about it. He's 57 years old, in the best shape of his life, learning every day how to bring his body back into balance.
That's where you start! By learning about yourself and your body, you learn to be more in tune with your body. When you're more in tune with your body, you naturally know how to respond when something is off instead of having to rely on some pill in a bottle to fix things for you.
As I said, I may not have type 2 diabetes or heart disease. But I have felt out of control. I know what depression feels like. I know what it feels like when you want to give up on relationships because of the side effects of diabetes. I know what hopelessness feels like. How not being able to enjoy life on your own terms feels because diabetes is the life of your party. I know what it feels like to want to change, want to be better, healthier, happier, and in control - but not knowing where to start because there's so much on your plate. It’s all so overwhelming! I also understand feeling like you could potentially lose someone you love to something that can be prevented or reversed.
I've been where you are. And in many ways, I'm still there with you. But I'm also here to tell you that you can be wherever you want to be. Together through nutrition, we will help you overcome any obstacles in your way.
I look forward to helping you along your health journey!
- Medina aka QueenEatz
I'm always happy to answer any questions or provide additional information. Connect with me on social media, or click here to send me a message and I'll get back to you as soon as I can!