As the runner-up on the first season of ABC’s reality show, “The Bachelor” and the star of its first sister show “The Bachelorette” Trista Sutter (then Rehn) captured the hearts of America, and a hunky fireman, Ryan Sutter.
One of the few contestants of the hits series to truly find love ever-after long after the final rose ceremony, Sutter appeared to be living out a modern day fairy tale.
The reality princess floated on air when she appeared in the first season of “Dancing With the Stars” and was overjoyed when soon after she became pregnant with the couple’s first child, son Maxwell, now 4. The Sutters also have a daughter, Blakesley, 2.
As if extreme morning, noon and night sickness and back pain weren’t bad enough, Sutter’s first pregnancy took a scary turn in her last trimester.
In her seventh month, Sutter was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, a condition in which women without previously diagnosed diabetes have high blood glucose levels during pregnancy (especially during third trimester).
Doctors say the condition can be quite treatable, especially if a woman has routine prenatal care. Here’s how Sutter kept her chin up, and her blood sugar down during her pregnancy.
The problem: Coping with the shock of the diagnosis
Trista says even though her father and grandmother are diabetics, she never suspected she’d develop gestational diabetes. “I didn’t think for a second I’d be dealing with it during my pregnancy.”
So initially, the shock of the diagnosis led to Sutter having a few ‘pity parties.’
Trista’s fix: To ‘snap out of it’ and cope, Sutter says she focused on the positives.
“Instead of woe is me because I was so bummed about the diagnosis, I focused on the happy positive things like the kicks and flutters I felt which I will never forget!”
And every time her son kicked, flipped and jabbed, Sutter cherished that moment instead of being bummed out about the one when her doctor gave her the unexpected diagnosis.
The problem: Sweet cravings
From sweet ooey gooey desserts to lots of carbs, Sutter says she frequently had a hankering for all the foods that doctors say diabetics should be wary of. “I craved everything I shouldn’t have.”
Trista’s fix: Striking a balance in her diet helped Sutter through typical pregnancy cravings. “If I really wanted a piece of cake, I made sure to eat a well-balanced healthy meal first, so I’d be full and fuel me and my baby, and then have a few bites of cake after a healthy dinner.”
But the trick was maintaining moderation. So she had a few bites to calm the craving, not a few slices!
“And if you have a HUGE craving for sugar, don’t give in to little sugars like juice and snacks. Save up for the good stuff like a sliver of cake or a few spoonfuls of ice cream.”
The problem: Eating out with friends
Having gestational diabetes meant Sutter had to eat at certain times of the day and follow a diet of three small- to moderate- sized meals and one or more small snacks a day. And she couldn’t skip meals or snacks. So she couldn’t always eat lunch when her gal pals were available.
But because that diet also consisted of more protein, grains, beans and veggies than carbs, Sutter couldn’t just pop into just any eatery with pals for a girls’ day out even if schedules were in sync.
Trista’s fix: Instead of trying to fit her meals into pals’ fluctuating schedules, Sutter stuck to her meal schedule whenever possible and saved snacks for times with friends if timing didn’t permit them to gather for lunch.
And because pregnant women with gestational diabetes have to watch what they eat, Sutter suggests phoning ahead to make sure there’s something on the menu that suits your diet and taste buds.
“I always made sure to have protein. That’s because if I started the meal with protein of some kind, whether it was lean steak or chicken, I felt full and was better able to balance the other things like veggies and carbs.”
The problem: Quenching Your Thirst
In some cases, women with gestational diabetes experience excessive thirst as a symptom.
Trista’s fix: “Drink lots of water.”
She says water was really the only thing that truly quenched her thirst. And as an added bonus, it didn’t mess up her blood sugar levels or threaten her weight.
“I stayed far away from sugary drinks like sodas, fruit juices, etc. I would rather use those calories for food.”
The problem: Not gaining too much weight
Morning sickness that spanned more than the typical first trimester, and well into the afternoon and evening limited Sutter’s ability to do a lot of exercising. But since too much weight gain is a concern of women with gestational diabetes, inactivity can lead to excess pounds.
Trista’s fix: Even though she didn’t feel up to her pre-pregnancy exercise routine, or exercise classes designed for pregnant women at park districts and gyms, Sutter says she made sure she was active.
“I went for walks whenever possible to stay healthy for me and my baby.”
If swollen ankles and aching feet are a problem, Sutter says try walking first thing in the morning, when your legs, ankles and feet aren’t apt to be pooped, dragging and puffy.
The problem: Being a worrywart
Worrying about gestational diabetes can lead to unnecessary stress, which isn’t good for pregnant moms or their babies.
Trista’s fix: Talk to your doctor
Sutter says maintaining good communication with your doctor is important during any pregnancy, especially one with the added complication of gestational diabetes. “It is essential for every pregnant woman because your doctor is the expert. As a worrywart, I relied on my doctors so much for guidance and tips to manage my gestational diabetes. They eased my mind throughout my pregnancy.”
To make sure all your questions are answered – and your mind is at ease – she says jot them down. That way you’ll remember to ask all your questions when you’re at a doctor’s appointment or on the phone with your OB.
According to the Mayo Clinic, any woman can develop gestational diabetes. However, there are a few risk factors that may up your odds including:
- Age. Women older than age 25 are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
- Family or personal health history. Your risk of developing gestational diabetes increases if you have prediabetes — slightly elevated blood sugar that may be a precursor to type 2 diabetes — or if a close family member, such as a parent or sibling, has type 2 diabetes
- Excess weight. Having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher means you’re more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
- Nonwhite race. Although doctors aren’t sure why, women who are black, Hispanic, American Indian or Asian have an increased risk for developing gestational diabetes.