Have you been recently diagnosed with gestational diabetes? Alternatively, do you suspect you might be dealing with this issue but are not sure how to manage it or what your options are? A gestational diabetes diet can help you get through this difficult time.
Gestational diabetes is a condition that affects women during pregnancy, occurring when your body cannot produce sufficient insuli and causing abnormal blood sugar levels. If not attended to, these spiked blood sugar levels may cause pregnancy and delivery complications down the line. In these cases, it is important to stick to a strict gestational diabetes diet under the care of your attending physician. If you are not positive what this process entails and what changes you need to be making, the following dietary tips and detailed analysis are tailor-made for you.
What Are the Best Gestational Diabetes Diet Options?
Because your ability to manage your gestational diabetes depends on maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, the first gestational diabetes diet change you need to make relates to your carbohydrate intake. There is no singular consensus as to the exact optimal amount of carbohydrates a pregnant woman should ingest each day, particularly as blood sugar levels vary on a case-by-case basis.
For example, if you are consistently dealing with high blood sugar levels, you will probably want to keep your carbohydrate intake below that of someone else with only slightly elevated blood sugar levels. In a general sense, you should keep your carbohydrate intake below 175 grams per day.
Spread this quantity of carbohydrates throughout your snacks and meals rather than consuming all at once, allowing your body time to absorb the sugars and process them effectively. Rather than empty carbohydrate sources devoid of nutritional content, choose complex carbohydrates that offer good sources of fiber and combine them with foods containing protein or fat.
Choose Foods Low on the Glycemic Index
Another key component of an effective gestational diabetes diet is to choose foods that are ranked low on the glycemic index. Glycemic loads are determined by multiplying a food’s glycemic index by the grams of carbohydrates it contains per serving. This reveals the ultimate effect it will have on your blood sugar when ingested. Foods that are lower on the glycemic index are digested and dispersed into your bloodstream over time rather than turning into sugar instantly and spiking your blood sugar.
Foods which are rated with a glycemic load of 10 or under are the optimal choices for a gestational diabetes diet. Examples include whole-grain breads, beans, lentils, chickpeas, non-starchy vegetables, and certain fruits like apples, peaches, oranges and pears.
Increase Your Protein
Since you will be monitoring your glycemic load so closely on a gestational diabetes diet and working to reduce your carbohydrate intake, you will need to put a renewed focus on excellent sources of protein. Eating protein and your restricted carbohydrates together will keep your blood sugar levels balanced. Carbohydrate sources that contain protein in them are excellent selections too.
Some great protein sources you should incorporate into your gestational diabetes diet are eggs, fish, chicken, turkey, beans, tofu, seeds, nuts, legumes, and quinoa.
Stick with Unsaturated Fats
As with any balanced diet, you will want to reduce your intake of saturated fats, especially while pregnant. An effective and healthful gestational diabetes diet hones in on excellent sources of unsaturated fats to keep your body functioning in proper order and your blood sugar levels even.
Some great unsaturated fat sources you can easily incorporate into your diet include olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds. Fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna are solid options as well.
Stay Away from Sugar
In following a gestational diabetes diet to reduce risk of pregnancy complications and get your blood sugar levels back on track, one of the singular most important changes you can make is to cut out sugary food sources. Processed, starchy foods turn straight to sugar when they hit your bloodstream, which will do nothing short of obstruct your efforts to balance your blood sugar levels.
You will need to stay away from refined, sugar-filled foods like sweets, biscuits, cakes, and puddings. Be sure to avoid sugary drinks like fruit juice which includes added sugar, sweet tea, or soda.
In getting your healthy gestational diabetes diet well underway, be sure to cut out or otherwise reduce non-sugary starchy food sources. These have the same effect on your blood sugar levels as eating cake or cookies, and will turn to sugar immediately upon consumption.
You will need to avoid or only eat very small amounts of foods like white rice, white pasta, white bread, or white potatoes.
Look Out for Disguised Carbohydrate and Sugar Sources
Hidden sources of carbohydrates and sugar can undermine your gestational diabetes diet greatly. Taking the time to read labels and examine your food sources might frustrate at first. However, this could save you a considerable amount of trouble in the long run by enabling you to keep your blood sugar levels under control and hold the gestational diabetes at bay.
Eat Smaller but Frequent Meals
Rather than eating just a few larger meals throughout the day, a comprehensive gestational diabetes diet incorporates small, frequent meals into your eating habits. Aim for 3 smaller meals and 2 to 4 snacks spread in between each.
This will keep your blood sugar levels from dipping or spiking throughout the day, providing you with the energy and fuel you need during your pregnancy. Perfect examples of foods you can enjoy for your moderately sized meals and snack times include fresh or frozen vegetables, eggs or egg whites if you prefer, fresh fruit, plain Greek yogurt, whole grain oatmeal with berries, lean chicken breast, and even air-popped popcorn.
Focus on Nutrition
Your primary focus at meal and snack times when following an effective gestational diabetes diet is to be consuming the proper nutrition. Your meals should be protein based, with moderate portions of complex carbohydrates on the side. Eat fresh food and stay away from highly processed, starchy, or sugary sources.
You should aim to receive anywhere from 20 to 25 percent of your daily food intake from protein alone. Your fat intake should form approximately 25 to 30 percent of your daily calories. A helpful resource to measure your food quantities and percentages appropriately is the MyPlate guide created by the American Diabetes Association.
Get Your Vitamins
The final cornerstone of a balanced gestational diabetes diet is to ensure you are getting sufficient nutrients from vitamin sources. Consult with your physician regarding any supplements and vitamins he or she recommends for your specific situation. Vitamin D deficiency is common, so make sure you get your levels tested so you can eradicate this issue if need be.
Is There a Need for Gestational Diabetes Diet Options?
It is important to follow a strict gestational diabetes diet if you have developed this condition, due to the potentially grave complications which might occur otherwise. If you are not managing your blood sugar levels, this can cause your baby to become larger than is normal, potentially resulting in a risky delivery and putting your child at greater risk for diabetes later in life.
If attended to properly, gestational diabetes will usually go away once you have given birth, unless you were diabetic before becoming pregnant. Gestational diabetes puts you at risk for becoming permanently diabetic down the line, necessitating that both you and your baby be checked after delivery for any issues.
Information on The Best Gestational Diabetes Diet Options
Managing Your Blood Sugar Is Key
Not only does gestational diabetes put you at a higher risk for developing full-blown diabetes, but it puts your child in danger of having serious blood sugar issues down the line such glucose intolerance and Type 2 diabetes. In fact, your gestational diabetes can cause your child to be prone to weight issues later in life. By keeping your blood sugar balanced during your pregnancy, you are working to preserve your own well being and that of your child.
Be sure to speak with your doctor regarding questions or concerns you might have regarding the exact gestational diabetes diet that is right for you. Depending on whether there are any pre-existing conditions or other factors at play, you may need to adjust elements like your fat or protein intake accordingly.
If you are not sure whether you have gestational diabetes and/or it is early in your pregnancy, it is a good idea to get your hemoglobin A1c checked along with your other 1st trimester blood work to see where your levels are at. If you have an imbalance in blood sugar or are developing insulin problems that could lead to gestational diabetes, you can catch this early. This will affect how strict of a diet you need to follow, and what food elements to focus in on.
Exercise is just as important as diet to managing your gestational diabetes. Half an hour of exercise each day, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor, is an effective method to reduce high blood sugar levels.
Following a well-rounded gestational diabetes diet is essential to maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Always consult with your physician before making dietary changes, and tailor your food habits accordingly. Your daily intake should include excellent sources of protein, unsaturated fats, and non-starchy complex carbohydrates.
The best gestational diabetes diet options previously discussed all have one main goal. Balancing and managing your blood sugar is the key to keeping your gestational diabetes at bay and preserving the wellbeing of both you and your baby before, during, and after delivery.