Gestational diabetes only develops in pregnant women. In other words, this type of diabetes doesn’t occur in other people. This disease may strike you during your first pregnancy or you may have an undiagnosed case of diabetes that comes to the fore when you become pregnant. When going through this, you’ll need a gestational diabetes diet.
The hormone that turns what we eat into glucose or sugar used to fuel our bodies is called insulin. During pregnancy, there are changes in the way the body utilizes insulin. This is because insulin resistance increases to assist in providing more glucose for the baby.
In some cases, the process may go awry in that the baby may stop responding to insulin or the mother may not produce enough insulin to supply her with the glucose she needs. When this occurs, blood sugar increases and causes gestational diabetes.
Importance of a healthy diet during pregnancy
A healthy diet is essential during pregnancy, especially for those with gestational diabetes. This is because it will help you to maintain your blood glucose levels within the normal range. You can control your gestational diabetes through regular exercise and a healthy diet. In fact, 90% of pregnant women suffering from this disease control it through a healthy eating plan.
In case you are overweight when you get pregnant, the midwife or doctor will advise you to watch your calorie consumption. Also, they will recommend moderate exercise – at least 30 minutes daily. This can take the form of swimming or brisk walking.
Moreover, you will need to take care that you don’t experience sharp increases or drops in your blood sugar levels. The doctor will guide you on this. Visit a dietitian to help you plan a special diet during your pregnancy. The meal plan will guide you on which foods to eat and which to avoid. It will also help you determine how much and how often you should eat.
The gestational diabetes diet
You should aim to organize your meals around protein. Also, include large amounts of fresh foods. Most noteworthy, reduce your consumption of carbohydrates and processed foods. The American Diabetes Association has a meal plan known as My Plate.
This can be a helpful guide in helping to create a healthy diet. According to this plan, 50% of your food should consist of non-starchy foods like vegetables and salad. 25% should be protein and the other 25% starch. You can add a serving of dairy or fruit. Drink water, herbal or black tea, or coffee.
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What to eat
The principles of the gestational diet are good ones for everybody to follow. In fact, this can be a chance for you and your family to get into better and healthier eating habits.
There are 2 kinds of carbohydrates, starch or complex carbohydrates and sugars or simple carbohydrates. Starch is at times referred to as the good carbohydrates, while sugars are known as the bad carbohydrates. Your diet should be high in starchy carbohydrates. This includes whole grains, legumes, potatoes, vegetables, and fruit.
Simple carbohydrates include added sugars such as table sugar, and also some natural sugars in fruit and milk. If you have gestational diabetes, avoid too many foods and drinks rich in added sugar because it will destabilize your blood sugar levels.
Go for foods with a low Glycaemic index (GI). GI is a measure of how fast the food releases glucose into the bloodstream. Low GI foods are rich in fiber which is essential for a healthy diet. Eating foods with a low GI will help you to maintain your blood sugar levels within normal range. They take longer to digest and release glucose into your bloodstream more slowly.
These foods include whole grains, fruits (apples, pears, oranges, and peaches), porridge, and sweet corn. Foods with high GI include cornflakes, white rice, white bread, and baked potato. However, you can mix low and high GI foods in a way that will maintain your blood sugar levels. Examples of this mix include toast with peanut butter and baked beans with a baked potato.
Eating enough protein leads to weight loss. It is also essential for maintaining your muscle and bone mass, and for the development of the baby. You can get protein from lean pork, organic chicken, wild fish, yogurt, free range eggs, lentils, and almond.
Omega3 fatty acids
These fatty acids are essential for a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. They are also important for the development of your unborn baby. Eat at least 2 servings of cold water fish per week. This includes tuna, salmon, mackerel, and white fish.
How to improve your diet
Your doctor and dietitian can guide you on how to choose a healthy diet.
Have a good Breakfast
Always eat a good breakfast because this helps to regulate your blood glucose levels in the morning. It also supplies you with enough energy throughout the day. Choose foods with a low GI. For example, whole grains, cereals, porridge, boiled eggs, and yogurt.
Eat a variety of foods during the day
In the course of the day, try to have a variety of healthy foods. This will make your food appealing and interesting. Mix the colors of the food on your plate to make it more balanced. For instance, add some green salad, yellow fruit, or red pepper.
Increase fiber intake
Consume foods rich in fiber because it helps in digestion and lowers blood sugar levels. Foods high in fiber tend to have a low GI. Fiber rich foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grain products, and legumes.
The five portions a day
Ensure you have at least 5 portions of vegetables and fruit daily.
Avoid saturated fats
Consume unsaturated fats including in olive oil, or vegetable oils both for cooking and salads. Foods high in monounsaturated fatty acids control blood sugar levels. Grill your foods instead of frying it. For snacks choose nuts and seeds which are high in unsaturated fats. Eat lean meat.
Have regular meals
It is important to eat at regular intervals and avoid skipping meals or staying hungry. Eat the same amount of foods daily. Have 3 small to moderate meals daily. Make sure you watch your portion sizes. You can have 2 to 4 snacks during the day to help stabilize your blood sugar levels. Avoid processed foods, sugary foods, and drinks.