Defeating Diabetes One Day at a Time

TV’s first Bachelorette, Trista Sutter, was caught off guard when she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during her first pregnancy. Now she shares her strategies for keeping herself—and her young family—healthy.

Gina Roberts-Grey
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Trista Sutter, who met her firefighter husband, Ryan, as TV’s first Bachelorette, was living her dream of becoming a mom when she became pregnant in 2006. Unfortunately, it was a rocky nine months. In her first trimester, she struggled with debilitating all-day morning sickness and back pain. “During the first four months, I was so sick that I could only eat crackers and drink ginger ale,” she has said. “As the pregnancy progressed, I felt better, and I ate tons of French fries.”

Then, during her seventh month, she developed gestational diabetes. Though Trista’s father and grandmother have diabetes, “I didn’t think for a second I’d be dealing with it during my pregnancy,” she says. Gestational diabetes, which affects 2% to 10% of pregnant women, is diagnosed when an expectant mom has high blood sugar levels. Fortunately, Trista controlled the condition with careful eating: “I had to cut down on carbs and focus on eating a more balanced diet.” She also stayed positive. “Instead of being bummed about the diagnosis, I tried to focus on the happy things, such as the baby’s kicks and flutters.”

Happily, her son Maxwell, now 5, is healthy. And while she had a normal pregnancy with her second child, daughter Blakesley, now 3, Trista hasn’t forgotten the lessons she learned during her first pregnancy. The most important? Women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes have a 35% to 60% greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes during the following 10 to 20 years, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Heeding the warning, Trista, 40, is determined to eat healthfully and exercise regularly. Her strategy is paying off big time: She dropped 45 pounds after Blakesley’s birth. “I’m proud that I’ve gotten to the point where I can fit into my old clothes.”

The good news? Her strategies for fending off type 2 diabetes down the road can help you keep your blood sugar in check today!

The challenge: Finding a diet you can really stick with. “I know if I go on a crazy crash diet, I will rebound from it,” Trista has said.

Smart solution: Cut back on—but don’t cut out—the foods you like. “I’m trying to keep things a little bit looser so I don’t burn out,” she has said. “The main philosophy of my diet is that it’s high in protein with healthy, whole-grain carbs.” She also drinks plenty of water and steers clear of sugary drinks like sodas and fruit juices. “I would rather use those calories for food.”

October 2012