I just turned 28 weeks yesterday, and it is time for that dreadful glucose tolerance test. First off, let me just say that I can not believe I am entering my third trimester! This pregnancy has FLOWN by. I will be taking my bi-weekly handstand photo tomorrow, we will see how that goes!
During my first pregnancy, I didn’t really know what it was all about, or what to expect, all I knew is that I “had to” do it, and so I did. I figured that the drink was disgusting, and had some artificial colors, being it is bright orange, but I sucked it up and took it anyway. Both times I had to take it, I did feel sick afterwards. I just figured it was from the test itself, and the high sugary drink. I didn’t want to know what was in it, because I didn’t want it to upset me, given I thought I had no other options. This time around, I feel I needed to do my research and stand up for myself and investigate my options.
Thank you to Food Babe for posting this article and not only educating women, but empowering them to know they have a choice. This test was something that was in the back of my mind for the past few weeks, but I had no idea how I was going to approach my doctors without getting an eye roll. I also want to note that yes, perhaps taking this drink one time is not going to harm my overall well-being. Honestly, I don’t feel like feeling sick all day from drinking it, and I just don’t understand that, as a women who are pregnant, and told to watch their diets so carefully, are then told to drink such a toxic drink. Aside from the yuck factor, and the fact that I generally don’t put these types on ingredients in my body, it is also principle and standing up for what I believe in—real food.
I can say to you that I am overall very healthy. That I exercise daily, and eat a well balanced, low carb diet, no processed foods, and I am generally very careful about the quality of the food myself and my family eats. My blood pressure is stellar and I have gained about 13 pounds during my pregnancy, which is right on target with what I need. However, I do understand that gestational diabetes can happen to anyone, even if you are at low risk. It is hormonal. Yes, maybe someone with an unhealthy lifestyle may be at higher risk, but that doesn’t mean it is the same as say type 2 diabetes, where I shouldn’t even consider that I wouldn’t develop it. My doctor even said to me that if he had to make a bet, he would bet that I would not have it, but better to be safe and take the test. I can respect that, and I do understand.
I wrote up all of my concerns, also mentioning other options I would consider, and printed it to take to my appointment:
Glucose Test Concerns
Ingredients in Glucola Beverage (50 grams of glucose for 1 hour test)
Water, Dextrose (D-Glucose source: Corn), Citric Acid, Natural Flavoring, Food Starch Modified, Glycerol Ester of Wood Rosin, Brominated Soybean Oil, FD & C Yellow #6, Sodium Mexaphosphate, BHA, and Sodium Benzoate
Issues with this overly processed drink, particularly while pregnant:
- Genetically modified soybean oil, something I am sensitive to and avoid generally in my diet. In addition, brominated vegetable oils are known to have adverse side effects (same chemical family as flame retardants, causing hormone dysfunction and lead to problems with brain development in children). In fact, they are banned in Europe as an additive because of health concerns. Last month (May 5th, 2014) Pepsi and Coca Cola announced that they would be removing this additive from their beverages, yet this is still added to a drink given to pregnant women for testing.
- Petroleum-based food coloring (FD & C yellow #6): found that when I accidentally have consumed this it gives me headaches, and have been avoiding this in my diet for a long time. Previously suffered from migraines that I had gotten under control with my diet.
- BHA: carcinogenic additive found in vegetable oil products
- Combination of citric acid and sodium benzoate: forms “benzene” a known carcinogenic recognized by the World Health Organization
- Glucose derived from corn: Corn, most-likely genetically modified. GMO’s have not yet been proven safe nor harmful for human consumption. Since the up rise of GMO’s in our food, their has been an increase in food allergies and disease. Correlation does not always mean causation but constitutes raising awareness and my right to avoid it if I choose.
The goal of this test is to ingest 50-100 grams of glucose in one sitting, after which blood is drawn to see how your body handles the sudden influx of sugar. This can be done with real food, not a toxic drink containing potentially harmful additives. Women are so careful to watch their diets during pregnancy, then are asked to consume this toxic drink for testing.
Here are real food options that contain 50 grams of glucose:
- 16 ounces of 100% fresh pressed orange juice and 1/2 of a banana (50)
- 6 ounces 100% organic grape juice and 1 banana (50)
- 8 ounces 100% organic apple juice and 1/2 banana (50)
- Glucose Tablets?
Other options for testing blood sugar I would consider:
Carrying a glucometer for a week to test blood sugar. May even be more accurate and helpful for a person at low risk (healthy eater, ideal pre-pregnancy BMI, healthy weight gain during pregnancy, exercise daily, high energy) for gestational diabetes, like myself.
- Fasting blood glucose (first thing in the morning) of 86 or lower
- 1 hour after eating= 140 or lower
- 2 hours after eating= 120 or lower
- 3 hours after eating= back to fasting level
Pros of this option:
It is a more comprehensive view of glucose tolerance. I can see what foods cause a higher spike for me personally (since everyone is different) and which ones cause no issues at all. This can help guide me to make the best choices for my pregnancy over the next 12 weeks.
I would have to test my blood sugar 4x per day for a week. Maybe twice if the doctor recommended it and wanted to see numbers at both 28 and 33 weeks.
I went to my appointment this morning and was seeing one of the doctors I really like. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t still nervous about how he would react and whether or not he would dismiss me, meaning I would just have to say I refuse the test to stand my ground. The nurse was giving me resistance over the phone, and that was mostly because the lab wouldn’t hear anything about the alternatives. Then, when I got weighed this morning and got my blood pressure taken, I handed this sheet to the nurse and asked her to have my doctor read over it before he came in to talk to me (at which time she shook her head and rolled here eyes, bit her tongue almost like she was going to say something like “there’s no way, lady”). I wanted him to read it and not just glance and jump in defense mode. That’s what the nurse on the phone kind of did. Although she was nice about it, she was just not understanding that I simply had an issue with the beverage, not the test. And kept telling me why the test was so important. My point was, why can’t I just have real food?
Long story summed up, he told me that, as I said above, he wasn’t worried about me getting a positive result at all. However, he also wouldn’t go as far as to say I should skip the test, which I understand and agree with. I know not all women agree, and some have opted out, which is totally fine, I respect that too!
I still, after research would probably have preferred the testing over a week method, but we came to a compromise. He told me to visit the drug store, in the diabetes aisle, and get glucose tablets. Which was an option I was curious about anyway (he said he felt more comfortable with my taking pure glucose than the OJ, which, whatever I thought it had the same effect if you take the right amount, but fair enough). He ordered a different test and said it had to be our “secret” because the lab would not change anything for me, and that it wasn’t worth the fight. He was just worried about the timing because for the general blood sugar test they take you back when they can, with the gestational diabetes test, they time it. So I walked over to the lab to talk to the tech. She asked to see my script and said that even though it was general, that my doctor wanted it to be timed.She told me to take the tabs at home, come over, and let them know what time I needed my blood drawn and they would call me back.
Now, I just need to find glucose tablets without any of the junk I was trying to avoid in the first place. After some light research I came across this article, so I am going to look into my options. I still wish I could just have OJ and half a banana. Do any of you know of plain ones that are just the pure glucose, no additives?
My other disappointment, and maybe this was a long shot, was that me coming to my practice with this information and concern would raise their eyebrows, and look into this enough to eventually want to recommend other options to all of their patients. I know I am just one person, and have to be my own advocate, but a girl can dream and hope. He DID tell me that he was concerned about the brominated vegetable oil in the drink and was not a fan of it. I guess not enough to try and make a general change, but I can’t tell you how much I appreciate him working with and listening to me and not giving me and backlash or resistance. So, the more and more of us women that spread this news and raise awareness, the more we can demand another approach. Hopefully, after a while, they will reformulate the drink if enough of us ban together, or offer other options without acting like that is the only thing on the planet you can consume to take this test.
I plan to take it early next week. I will let you guys know how it goes!