What is Gestational Diabetes?
When women develop high blood sugar during their pregnancy, it is termed as gestational diabetes. It commonly occurs in the second or later stage of their pregnancy, but a woman can be tested positive for gestational diabetes at any stage of the pregnancy. The condition is temporary and most times it goes away after giving birth. It develops when the body does not produce the right amount of insulin to balance the extra needs of pregnancy.
What Causes Gestational Diabetes?
At the time of pregnancy, the placenta makes hormones which might cause glucose build-up in the blood. Although the pancreas makes insulin to get rid of that extra glucose, for some it may not be enough. A pregnant woman naturally becomes resistant to glucose so the baby can get more glucose. Sometimes this process doesn’t work properly and the body doesn’t respond to insulin. When this happens, it doesn’t make the required amount of insulin to provide you with the proper glucose that you need which causes the sugar levels in the blood to go up causing gestational diabetes.
How to Take Care of Gestational Diabetes?
Even though it is temporary gestational diabetes may harm the mother and her child if proper care is not taken. Controlling your diet can help to keep gestational diabetes in control. If a healthy diet is maintained throughout the pregnancy, the symptoms can be managed without any medication.
Gestational Diabetes Diet
It is important that one has a perfect balance of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and fiber in your diet. Intake of carbohydrates should be kept in check because this is what turns t glucose when digested. Thus the food should be balanced with all types of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. It is a good idea to take the help of a dietician because they calculate the exact amount of carbohydrates that can be consumed through the day while keeping gestational diabetes in control. You can also do it by referring to the nutritional value of foods.
Foods to Avoid
Processed food is poison so stay away from all types of alcoholic beverages, candy, sugary drinks, fast food, fried food, etc. Since pregnant women always have cravings, they may indulge in junk food once in a while, but nothing should be had in excess. For instance, if you would normally eat two large donuts then pick just one small donut for your taste palette.
Also See: 8 Best Foods to Control Diabetes
Recommendations to Keep the Blood Sugar Levels in Check
- Fruits are good but also high in natural sugars. You should take up to three portions of fruit each day but remember not to eat them at one go. Distribute them for the entire day. Always eat fresh fruits and not frozen or canned ones. Canned ones are specially preserved in sugar and are harmful.
- Avoid fruit juice because a glass of juice is made of several fruits and is loaded with carbs. You can substitute it with vegetable juice – spinach, kale, cucumber, beetroot are all healthy options.
- Don’t eat too much at one go instead distribute it over a longer period. Eating all at once causes insulin spikes. Remember never skip meals. One should snack at least twice between the meals.
- If you are in the habit of drinking a glass of milk in a day, then divide this into two portions. One can have a cup of milk in the morning and one cup at night. Milk is also rich in carbs and spikes insulin levels, but it is rich in calcium which is essential for the bones of both the mother and the baby.
- Starchy food such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes turn into glucose, but a reasonable portion should be added to the diet because they are a source of energy for the body.
- Breakfast should be protein-rich and foods such as eggs, cheese, peanut butter, whole wheat bread, oats, etc. should be a part of the morning diet.
- Cookies, candies, pastries, etc. are not the desserts that a woman with gestational diabetes should be aiming for. Some healthy choices in sweet can include goodies with dark chocolate, avocados, coconut sweets, berries with cream, peanut butter cookies, etc. These are healthy and also work perfectly as desserts pregnant women with gestational diabetes.
- Adding sugary toppings such as syrup or honey is a bad choice. It should not be a part of a gestational diabetes diet. There are many artificial sugars available that are approved for pregnant women with gestational diabetes. Remember to consult the doctor or dietician and take their recommendation on this. It would be great if one intake natural sugars from fruits and vegetables instead of adding artificial sweeteners to their food.
- Keep track of the food that you intake so you can monitor the carbohydrate intake. Measuring cups and spoons are a great way to keep your portions in check.
- Fish such as salmon, snapper, anchovies, etc. are all rich in protein. Chicken is another good source of protein especially the breast part. Lean beef can supply your body with iron and zinc and is good for pregnant women.
- One of the most important points in a gestational diabetes diet is vegetable. Include a lot of vegetables. Pick fresh ones from the market and consume them in a healthy way. Broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, capsicum, beans, zucchini, peas, cabbage, pumpkin, etc. should be a part of the diet. Each vegetable is loaded with vitamins and minerals that are important for the mother and the baby.
- Drink enough water to keep the body hydrated and to help it with the fluid required to digest the food.
When food is consumed in a limited way the body functions healthily. A woman diagnosed with gestational diabetes may not necessarily have to take medicines if she eats well-balanced meals and snacks every day.