Though the onset of pregnancy is the most delightful time for a woman but some healthcare related issues try to tarnish this moment and one such is gestational diabetes.
Technically, the condition means that the blood glucose, i.e., sugar levels of a pregnant woman, are too high which can prove to be harmful for the mother and the baby. It occurs when the changing hormonal conditions of the body disrupt the insulin levels.
The only way to avoid gestational diabetes, a disease that inflicts 7% of the American women, or to treat it afterwards is to eat a balanced and healthy diet along with performing regular physical activity in order to keep your blood glucose levels in the targeted range.
Gestational diabetes has been found to be linked to diabetes in later stages of life. The potential mother or any woman in her reproductive age should take care of her food quality and life style, so that she can save herself from Diabetes’ peril.
However, there are conditions in which gestational diabetes or diabetes in any stage of life, is bound to happen. Gestational diabetes goes away as the baby is delivered.
One may consider it to have some sort of relationship with diabetes mellitus but one should stop right there, as this condition have different parthenogenesis. Unlike the diabetic mellitus, during gestational diabetes the mother is advised to consume a significant amount of food in order to facilitate the nutritional needs of her baby while taking care of GI of the food.
The Vital Menu:
A healthy meal plan can ensure the safety of both mother and baby. A good diet plan to manage gestational diabetes should tell the mother:
- What to eat (Food groups)
- How much to eat (Amounts)
- When to eat (Timing)
A balanced diet constitutes eating a variety of healthy foods with the most important point being avoiding processed products as much as possible during pregnancy. The general recommendations for pregnant women to prevent gestational diabetes include:
- Eat 3 medium sized meals per day
- Do not eat more than 2 snacks per day
- Balance the amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in your meals
- Eat ample quantities of fruits and vegetables
- Eat reasonable quotas of lean meats and unsaturated fats
- Eat adequate portions of whole grains
- Avoid sugary foods in diet, e.g., sweet drinks, fruit juices, desserts etc.
- Read the ‘Nutrition Facts’ panel to make healthier grocery choices
Carbohydrates: The Mother Of All Foods
Carbs (carbohydrates) are very important when it comes to managing gestational diabetes, since your body needs them to maintain blood glucose levels. Although carbs are needed to maintain your energy levels, they should not be consumed in excess.
According to The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a pregnant woman should consume more than 6 servings of healthy starchy foods which are also loaded with vitamins and minerals, everyday e.g. whole-grain breads, whole-grain crackers, whole grain cereals, barley, oats, beans, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, starchy vegetables e.g. corn and peas.
Most importantly, half of all dietary calories should be consumed via healthy carbs, i.e., high-fiber whole grain carbohydrate sources. Carbs can even be consumed through fruits and vegetables in which case learning to count the amount of carbs in specific foods can prove very useful. Moreover, pregnant women are recommended to eat at least 2 servings and not more than 4 servings of whole fruits e.g. banana, apple, oranges with all fruits being consumed whole instead of only drinking their juices.
Most importantly, foods rich in starchy or sugary carbs such as white bread, rice and pasta should be consumed in low amounts.
If your blood glucose level remains high even after keeping check on the types of carbohydrates being consumed, then further cutting back on carbs is not the right answer. In this regard, consulting a doctor or a dietician is the solution.
Fat: Which Ones To Avoid, Which Ones To Look For
Another extremely important advice for pregnant ladies trying to avoid or suffering from gestational diabetes is to avoid saturated fats. Instead they should consume polyunsaturated or ‘healthy’ fats from foods such as olives, fish, avocado, nuts etc. Although fat does not directly have any effect on the blood glucose levels but eating a diet rich in it, can contribute to weight gain, leading to irregular levels of insulin in the blood.
Since saturated fats are mostly found in processed foods, you should limit the amount of processed foods you eat. Other foods which also contain saturated fats include lean meats, chicken, eggs, and dairy products. Therefore, these foods should be consumed in moderation but should not be completely excluded from the diet.
Also, ease up on fatty foods such as margarine, salad dressings, bacon and hamburgers and only use oils such as olive oil, canola oil or peanut oil for cooking.
Proteins: The Real Deal
At least 2 small portions of proteins, preferably from plant sources, should be a part of your diet during pregnancy. Proteins from animal sources include foods such as lean meat, chicken meat, fish, eggs, cheese and butter, which should not be consumed in excess. On the other hand, foods such as milk, yogurts, legumes, and beans, which do not upset blood glucose levels, should be eaten more during pregnancy.
Calcium And Iron: Minerals To Keep To Fit
Some calcium and iron for all the already strong iron will is necessary. Two nutrients of particular important during pregnancy are calcium and iron both of whose requirement increases among women during the gestational phase. As a result, a pregnant woman is advised to include 3 servings of calcium and iron-rich foods in their meals every day.
Sources of food rich in calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese, fortified soy milk etc. Additionally, drinking 2-3 glasses of milk per day is also a very good source of calcium.
Meanwhile foods rich in iron include fish, chicken, apples and green vegetables, e.g., spinach, broccoli, and potatoes, all of which should be consumed in moderation.
NOTE: Please consult your health care provider before following any meal plan in case of gestational diabetes. Health units is just giving the awareness and is not recommending any food type.