We could go into all of the details about what gestational diabetes is, why it happens, risk factors of having it, etc…but you can look all of that up on your own. I figured you may already know a bit about that if you’re reading this and it may be getting close to time for you to have your gestational diabetes screening. If you care anything about the foods, drinks, and products you use, you will probably care that the drink typically used for this is full of straight trash ingredients.
According to the American Diabetes Association, gestational diabetes occurs with 9.2% of pregnant women.
Between 24-28 weeks is when most pregnant women get screened for gestational diabetes via a oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). Typically, you go in and you’re given a drink called Glucola, and the purpose is to ingest 50-100 grams of glucose. After about an hour your doctor will test how well your body handles the influx of glucose.
Glucola for example contains ingredients no one should be consuming.
Brominated Vegetable Oil
This is actually banned in Europe and Japan and is approved as a flame retardant. Contains bromine which inhibits thyroid function, irritates mucous membranes and can cause neurological symptoms.
Modified Food starch
This is in the MSG family.
Lots of risks to consuming food dyes– cancer, hyperactivity, allergic reactions
Corn sugar which is probably derived from GMO corn. Corn is one of the crops most highly sprayed with glyphosate which has been found to cause cancer.
This could be a chemical cocktail of who knows what because they don’t have to disclose what makes up the natural flavor–it’s basically an umbrella term. Could be wood chips, could be beetle guts to beaver anal juice. Who knows.
The ingredient list is much longer than this…I just named a few top offenders. Glucola could cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, dizziness, headache and fatigue. (source) Exactly what you want to experience during pregnancy, right?!
While, yes, it’s important to screen for gestational diabetes, it doesn’t have to be done with a toxic health harming drink. There are other options!
Other options to consider:
1. if you are first trimester or early second, consider getting HbA1c (hemoglobin A1c) test. This is a simple blood draw that can be done with your other labs and does not require you to ingest anything. With this one, there is no set level that determines gestational diabetes, but there are levels for non-pregnancy-related diabetes, so when done early enough in your pregnancy it can determine whether you already had undetected diabetes before even becoming pregnant. Typically a level of 5.45% may be associated with gestational diabetes. At this point you can make dietary changes and wait until weeks 24-28 when the glucose challenge test is typically done and decide if you should test. Yes, you can test with something other than the Glucola drink if you decide to move forward.
2. If you are past the point of doing the HbA1c lab, you can do glucose testing with a glucometer. You will eat YOUR NORMAL BALANCED MEALS, and won’t have to ingest anything you normally wouldn’t This just requires finger stick blood testing which can even be done by you at home, and is a commonly used alternative for women who can’t tolerate the Glucola drink. (personally, I don’t think ANYONE should be consuming Glucola). Keep in mind, this will need to be done at minimum for 3 days, multiple times a day. Usually, before each meal and two hours after each meal. So, roughly 6x a day for 3 days and you will have to keep a log of the readings to show your Midwife or OB.
You can borrow a glucometer from your provider or you can grab one at most pharmacies or amazon. Note: if you want to do this option but hate the sound of sticking your finger that often and your provider requires more than three days, request that they order you a CGM, a continuous glucose monitor which has a tiny needle on the back of a round disc shaped device that will be inserted on the back side of your arm for how ever many days they want to monitor. The data downloads to an app and you will turn your data in to your provider. So, only one stick!
3. Another option is consuming around the same amount of sugar but grape juice, organic jelly beans, or pancakes with pure maple syrup.
4. Alternative drinks you could order and use instead of the Glucola drink that are MUCH safer and WAY better ingredients are The Fresh Test or Glucoganics. Both drink options that you take with you to your providers office and will that do the same thing as Glucola in a much safer way. Glucoganics which is my top pick between these two options even provides a letter that you can take with you to your provider with product info! Plus, it only has three ingredients!
My top option between all of these: option 2, the glucometer or continuous glucose monitor. This is what I will be doing for 3 days while eating my normal balanced meals.
Remember, while the Glucola drink is the standard for most screenings, it’s also important to know that common and standard doesn’t always mean safe or the best option for YOU as an individual. You have a right to advocate for what you do and don’t want during YOUR pregnancy. Educate yourself and go in there empowered with info! You also have the right to decline a ton of stuff!
Hope this was helpful for you. 🤍 If you missed our first trimester recap + Q&A, check it out here!
Stay tuned for my maternity jean review as well as pregnancy skin + body care favs!