Pasta Perfect

Week 25: 1.28.08


Rise and Whine In my first trimester, I often woke around 3:30 a.m., stumbled into the kitchen, guzzled grapefruit juice, then fell back asleep. Semester two finds me sleeping all the way till 4:30 then hitting the soymilk. If I don't do this, I am nauseous with hunger by breakfast time. The grapefruit seemed quirky, but sort of cute. The 4:30 thing less so, because many mornings I don't fall back asleep.

Instead I spin fantasies about what I can't do. Like exercise regularly, or find the energy to maintain much of a social life. These aren't useful thoughts, they're dark, cold, hungry, wide-awake thoughts. By the time the sun and the steam heat come up, I'm weary and whiny. But as I pour out my worries to Aaron over morning tea I realize I have the power to at least use these thoughts—turning them into positive motivation instead of indulging in self-criticism.

I'm definitely going to use last night's obsession: gestational diabetes. In the wee hours, I condemned myself for the weight gain and queasy, protein-averse dependence on processed foods during my first trimester (white bread, white rice, and oh, most comforting of all: pasta). "Now here's month 6, we've got a house full of cookies and I made spaghetti the other night then sworked up the leftovers for breakfast—surely the wrathful god of refined carbohydrates will strike me down with gestational diabetes,' I reasoned.

Just the Facts, Please

In the light of day I looked up the condition in The Whole Pregnancy Handbook (by Joel M. Evans and Robin Aronson, this is by far my most well-thumbed pregnancy book). Turns out there aren't definite symptoms of gestational diabetes, so the hunger and fatigue I've been experiencing aren't glaring signs of anything except my poor sleeping and the fact that I'm hosting a growing fetus.

Risk factors for gestational diabetes include having had it previously, or having already given birth to a baby over 8.8 pounds, having a family history of diabetes, and having a body mass index of 29 (i.e. being at the far end of obese, not just kind of squidgy). OBs conduct a glucose screen between 24 and 28 weeks. While it doesn't sound fun (you down a huge syrupy drink then give blood to show how your body is handling the overload), it's apparently very important—5% of women have this condition, and it should be managed to ensure the health of mother and child.

Macaroni Madness

Facts always quiet (bore?) my anxieties. It sounds like there's not much I can do other than go in for the screening next month. And since it's obviously weighing on me, I plan to renew my efforts to exercise and eat well, and I'll invite some friends with good metabolisms over, then foist those cookies on them.

No problem. Plus, I've got time to do my prenatal pilates DVD today, or to take a long walk with Aaron. Now all that's left is to lay off the pasta, right?

Slooooow down. I love this wonderful, versatile food more than any other. Noodles with butter are thoroughly pleasing. Then there's fusilli with tomato, basil, and parmesan—oh pasta, you are my passion! I wish I could quit you, but it's just not going to happen.

Happily, whole grain pasta can also be absolutely delicious (and it has more protein and a much lower glycemic index than the refined stuff). Plus, a bowl of noodles is the most delightful vegetable delivery system I know of. So here is my recipe for Sicilian-style whole wheat rigatoni with cauliflower. I hope you like it—I lost sleep over it, but for a good bowl of pasta, it's worth it.

Whole Grain Pasta with Cauliflower