Journey

How I Managed My Gestational Diabetes Without Medicines

Pallavi was diagnosed with gestational diabetes early on, in the 2nd month of pregnancy. She and her husband were determined to explore natural ways of managing it. She did not want to take insulin and run the risk of being medicine dependant for life. She researched online, drew from her past experience and decided to experiment with millets. She was successful, not only was she able to manage her gestational diabetes without medicines, but in fact had an extremely healthy pregnancy. Inspired from their own experience, both she and her husband now work to make millets mainstream and have made it their mission to bring these wonder grains back as staples. We spoke to her, here is her story.

Pallavi Upadhyaya
34 years, Co-founder & Director – Millets for Health
Noida

Wellcure:

Hi Pallavi. Let’s start with you giving us a snapshot of your health journey. What was your health challenge, how did you overcome it and how did all that tie into ‘Millets for Health’?

Pallavi:

Our venture ‘Millets for Health’ started two years ago in 2016, but our own personal journey with millets and wholegrains started in 2013. The first exposure to millets was when I borrowed a friend’s diet plan because I wanted to lose weight. Just by following the simple plan which included more whole grains like ragi, bajra and jowar, I lost almost 10 kg in 2.5 months. I was energetic, I wasn’t really eating less, I was having full meals. It was actually pretty fantastic! It was a revelation for both me and my husband Rajeev, that how making simple changes can have a strong impact on you.

The second major trigger point happened soon after in 2013 itself, when I was expecting a child. In early pregnancy, in 2nd month, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

We were advised to go to one of the diabetes specialists and they gave me a plan to monitor my sugar. They instructed that after every meal I should write down my reading and after a week or so, I should come back. Then they would decide what medicine is good for me and whether I need it or not. My husband and I were certain that we don’t want to go down the medicine path. Drawing back to the experience of eating millets and other whole grains, we realized it could have an impact. We decided to give it a shot.

I did a lot of online research and at that point of time, the awareness of gestational diabetes was not very high, so it took me a while to research. There were different forums where people had discussions about changing diets, there were some stories about people who had managed it. However, I don’t think there was any story close to what I eventually managed to achieve.

We started eating more of whole grains and millets. I realised if I eat a roti vis-a-vis a dalia, my body reacts differently. When you are pregnant, there is also another being dependent on you. You cannot afford to let your sugar level shoot up and down, you really need to make sure sugar levels are consistently in range, else it impacts the development of the baby. So we had to make sure that I was monitoring my sugar level four times a day. In fact, I was monitoring everything I ate, and that’s how I kept eliminating certain food items , as time progressed.

What stayed consistent was that every time I ate millets, it was one of the easiest things I could have. It was also something that I could have until the end of the pregnancy.

Women with gestational diabetes tend to gain more weight and typically have caesarean deliveries but i was able to manage everything fine and had a normal delivery.

When something like this happens, it changes your life. We realised the power these grains have in terms of overall health, energy, diabetes and weight managment. We introduced millets to my daughter when she was 7 months old. Millets have now become a lifestyle for us. We include them in our regular meals because we have been cooking them for so long.

Through all this, we also realized millets are not that easily available. We had a lot of struggle in finding good quality products. Millets that were available in the market used to go rancid very fast. We realized that there is a gap in the market.

Both, my husband and I, are from social development & non-profit background. Rajeev had done some work with millet farmers and we got back in touch with them. They said that they have been struggling to find new markets. After almost a year of research, talking and meeting farmers, producer companies and other folks who had been in the field for some time, in April 2016, we started our work of making millets mainstream and bringing them back on people’s tables.

Wellcure:

So you started procuring millets from farmers and supplying them to an urban audience?

Pallavi:

Yes, we started really small because the market wasn’t there. Over a period of time, we realised that the urban audience also needs to know the benefits of millets and how to eat them. So we included the education piece in our model. Today, apart from supplying millets, we also conduct cooking workshops and participate in food events to promote awareness.

Wellcure:

If the markets didn’t exist at that time, how come the diet plan you picked up from your friend was millet based and did it have other grains also?

Pallavi:

That plan was not completely millet based, it had a lot of other things. The only millets it had were the major millets, which are usually found in north India, i.e. ragi, bajra and jowar.

Wellcure:

These are the commonly known millets. Are there more?

Pallavi:

Yes, there are many varieties of millets. They can broadly be categorised into major and minor.

In major millets, we don’t need to remove their outer hull before consumption. They can be directly ground into flour, we can sprout them, or directly use them as whole grain. Minor millets are the smaller ones, such as foxtail, barnyard, kodo, proso and little. These come as seeds and we need to remove the hull to get to the inner part which can be eaten. However, proper dehulling is important and we should ensure that the millets we consume are unpolished and retain their bran.

The minor millets were not that easily available and in fact these are what I experimented with more during my pregnancy. Minor millets have a high fiber content and are complex carbohydrates hence they worked better for me during gestational diabetes.

Wellcure:

And how about rice and wheat? Were they part of the diet plan?

Pallavi:

There was no white rice. Wheat was there but with added bran. Now i realise that there are traditional varieties of wheat available locally which have less gluten and more fiber and we don’t need to add bran on top.

Wellcure:

When you took the diet plan from your friend and the benefits that you saw in terms of weight loss, would you say it was primarily attributable to millets?

Pallavi:

Millets did have a large role to play and eating right is extremely critical to weight loss as we can never out–exercise a bad diet but it is the entire lifetstyle change which helped in losing weight and sustaining that weight loss. Complete elimination of fried foods and white sugar, more green vegetables, eating early and drinking more water, all of these are typically required to make any healthy lifestyle change. Earlier, I was predominantly a wheat and rice eater. When I started including more grains, rice was completely eliminated. I was including jowar & bajra ki roti and ragi dosa, more fruits and vegetables.

Wellcure:

So you continued on similar lines during pregnancy too?

Pallavi:

To a large extent, yes. I ate millets throughout my pregnancy. I was not eating rice at all and towards the end I could not even have roti.The sugar level, as prescribed by doctor, one hour post meal should have been till 130. Even if I had roti in small quantity, my sugar level would shoot up to almost 150. I had to constantly strategize and think about what to do and it was then that the diet was almost entirely based on whole grains and millets. Last 2 months I used to watch portion sizes also. I was having smaller but more frequent meals.

Wellcure:

Apart from managing your diabetic phase with food, were you taking any medication?

Pallavi:

No and that is my success story. Even though I got diabetes in early pregnancy, I managed it completely by just monitoring what I ate and by walking. The most rigorous form of exercise I did at that time was brisk walking. I used to do a 20-minute walk after every meal come what may!

Wellcure:

Why were you so inclined to not take medicine and insulin, what was your motivation?

Pallavi:

Both, Rajeev and me, wanted to deal with it in the most natural way. There was also a fear of becoming insulin dependent. If you start medication once you don’t know, whether you will stop it or not. At a young age, I did not feel right about going on medication for diabetes

I think I had a healthier pregnancy because of diabetes than I would have otherwise!

Wellcure:

Can gestational diabetes transform into regular diabetes when the pregnancy is over, does it continue?

Pallavi:

It depends on how you handle it. If you don’t change your eating habits and take insulin injections and medication, then it can continue after pregnancy too. It is also a warning sign. If you get gestational diabetes, that means you have a chance of developing diabetes in general.

Having said everything, if you cannot control your diet and sugar levels during gestational diabetes, you should definitely go on insulin because uncontrolled gestational diabetes is detrimental to the healthy development of the child.

Wellcure:

To summarise how you managed gestational diabetes, key inclusions were millets, fruits & vegetables, brisk walking after meals; key exclusions were rice, white sugar, fried food & to some extent wheat too. Any other aspect that helped you on this journey?

Pallavi:

Family support! Sometimes you are doing everything right and things still go wrong. I am extremely thankful to my patient husband and my mother who dealt with all the mood swings and frustrating times with so much love and support

My doctor was really supportive as well. She always motivated me to stay active. When I couldn’t tie my shoelaces on my own, I would ask for help. She would say if you are trying so hard, you should squat, sit down and tie your own shoes. So, she was very much into the journey with me and it was nice!

Wellcure:

Thanks Pallavi for sharing your journey with us. We wish you and your family all the best for your future endeavours.


(About Pallavi Upadhyaya: Pallavi is a social worker & entrepreneur, deeply connected with the cause of spreading awareness about millets. She loves to read, enjoys cooking and has recently started gardening and growing her own food. Millets for health is a social enterprise founded by Pallavi & her husband, focused on the revival of millets. They have a wide range of millet products including millets as rice, sooji, daliya, poha, flours and pasta. They also conduct cooking workshops and awareness events on millets. Apart from engagegment with consumers, they have also been working with restaurants and food chains to include millets in their regular menus.)



Disclaimer: The health journeys, blogs, videos and all other content on Wellcure is for educational purposes only and is not to be considered a ‘medical advice’ ‘prescription’ or a ‘cure’ for diseases. Any specific changes by users, in medication, food and lifestyle, must be done under the guidance of licensed health practitioners. Wellcure believes that each human body is unique and hence no Health Journey should be construed as a "cure". The views expressed by the user in the above Health Journey are his/her personal views and Wellcure claims no responsibility for them.


10:35 AM | 21-08-2019

That's an awesome journey, your journey is an inspiration to many sufferers. Wish you more health and peace throughout your life.

Reply
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