No "Complex" Carbs when Preggers?

I am a type 1 and 5 weeks pregnant with my first and have found that I can no longer eat any kind of what we used to call “complex” carbs - bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc - without spiking after. Every other kind of low-carb or even fruit and juice-laden item I can handle and still be back down below 120 two hours after eating if I measure and bolus correctly. But even something like store-made potato soup, which I meticulously measured and bolused for, has me at 200. I have given up trying on most of these items but a lot of what I’m reading says that I should be eating the stuff that makes me go high.

Is this an issue for anyone else? And is it really bad for the baby if I go bread-less? Am I inadvertently making my baby have intolerance to wheat? (See also: first pregnancy.)

Hi Rebecca!

I’m currently 19 weeks pregnant. I am able to eat complex carbs, but I chose to switch to only the most complex carbs during pregnancy (whole grains).

For breakfast, I can tolerate very few carbs. So I eat eggs and veggies with 25g of carb from whole wheat bread (50g of bread). For lunch and dinner, I eat meat and veggies and 40g of carb, which is always one of the following (all weights are the cooked weights):

  • 140g whole grain pasta
  • 150g brown rice
  • 200g boiled or fried potatoes
  • 80g whole grain bread

Then I also have 10g of carbs from one cup of milk or some fruit after lunch and dinner. This is less carbs than I used to eat at each meal, but I have added three snacks a day as well (with 20g of carbs at each snack). So in the end, I am getting enough carbs, but able to eat them without spiking (most of the time – of course sometimes I spike, but that usually meant that we needed to adjust my insulin settings).

See if you eat less of the complex carbs if you can avoid the spike.

Are you testing at one hour after eating? My endo had me switch to one hour after eating once I became pregnant.

Some people have highs in the early weeks of pregnancy and around week 9-10 many (but not all) women see a decrease in their need for insulin. It may be that you need to change your insulin to carb ratios or increase your boluses at certain times of the day. I have been trying my best to eat at regular times and log – so I can see the trends.

I used to use one insulin to carb ratio all day, but we have been tweaking them to avoid spikes and now my insulin to carb ratios vary dramatically by time of the day. Before pregnancy, I was taking one unit of insulin for 11-13g of carb (insulin to carb ratio). My currently insulin to carb ratios are:
Breakfast - 5
10am snack - 13
Lunch - 8
4pm snack- 20
Dinner - 14
10pm snack - 13

Thanks Kristin!

I have already set my insulin to carb ratio and basal rates higher since learning I’m pregnant (with my Endo’s help). And it seems my problem is those whole-grain type carbs you mentioned, but maybe I need to adjust my insulin to carb ratio higher just for those, or at different times of the day - I hadn’t even considered that before. I am getting carbs, usually through vegetables and fruit and I’m trying to balance out with protein. It just feels like if I look at a slice of bread my BGs go up!

The more “complex” the carb, the lower my spikes are. However, i’ve had the lowest spikes with things very high in fiber, and with whole grains and other low GI items that are mixed with fat and protein to slow it down. One thing that was helpful for me was to get a book on the glycemic index and get a better understanding of how different types of rice, pasta, breads, and potatoes prepared different ways all react in your system at different rates. My dr. also put me on a carb limit of 40 at breakfast and 60 at lunch and dinner, since spikes are harder to control with more carbs.

Throughout the pregnancy i’ve also had to increase my carb ratio and take more insulin for carbs, especially in the morning. Before, I used to have yogurt and fruit for breakfast, but in the 1st trimester I had to cut out fruit and dairy all together in the morning, as it would make me spike high no matter what. By the end of the 1st trimester, I also had to cut out soups (except at dinner time when i was the least insulin resistant), as soup is already broken down and travels through your system faster.

Good luck!