It’s important for moms with gestational diabetes to eat healthy foods so they don’t raise their blood sugar levels too much. The best foods for gestational diabetes are high in fiber and protein, low on the glycemic index (GI), and have a low-to-moderate amount of carbohydrates.
A dietitian or doctor should provide specific recommendations about what types of food you can eat during pregnancy if you’re diagnosed with gestational diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends the following food groups:
- Whole grains – breads, cereals and pasta are good for them since they are high in fiber and contain complex carbohydrates which help stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Vegetables – these are very important because they provide lots of vitamins, minerals, folate and dietary fiber. They should be eaten as a salad or cooked on the side with meat.
- Fruits– fruits supply vitamin C, potassium, antioxidants like beta carotene (carrots) and flavonoids. Bananas have a good amount of iron too while citrus fruits offer calcium. Fruit is also a great source of vitamins not only for mom but baby too.
- Lean Meats – this includes fish and chicken breast. They are a great source of protein, zinc and iron for mom and baby too.
- Calcium Rich Dairy Products – these include yogurt, skimmed milk, low fat cheeses like mozzarella or cheddar since dairy products are good sources of calcium.
- Salmon– one food that gestational diabetes moms might not have thought would ever fit into their diet plan is salmon, but the truth is that it’s one of the best sources of Omega-three fatty acids which are crucial to a baby’s development.
- Nuts and Seeds – these contain healthy fats which have been shown in multiple studies to improve babies’ health and also help moms with gestational diabetes stay fuller longer.
The ADA recommends that if moms with gestational diabetes experience weight gain over their expected amount they should talk to their health care provider about what other foods might be appropriate.
What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that only pregnant women can get. It usually starts during the second half of pregnancy and goes away after delivery, but it may also happen in early pregnancy or before getting pregnant. Gestational diabetes affects about two to ten percent of all pregnancies worldwide with rates varying by country. It’s characterized by high blood sugar levels and can cause serious problems for both mother and baby if left untreated.
Women who have gestational diabetes are about four times as likely to develop Type II Diabetes than those without this condition. This means that if you had gestational diabetes when you were pregnant, your risk for developing Type II Diabetes later in life has increased significantly.
Gestational diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. The pancreas produces less insulin than usual because of these hormonal changes, causing high blood sugar levels and increased insulin resistance.
The symptoms of gestational diabetes are similar to those of Type II Diabetes, but they can also include excessive thirst and urination, blurred vision, fatigue, nausea or vomiting. Gestational diabetes should not be confused with preexisting types of Diabetes such as Type 1 Diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes which are independent conditions and occur outside pregnancy, but they may also exist concurrently with gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
Gestational Diabetes usually develops during pregnancy but it can be diagnosed after the baby has been born as well. The key to managing gestational diabetes is diet, exercise, and/or medications. If you have this condition, your doctor will recommend that you follow a special meal plan with certain types of food on the menus as well as taking regular walks or other physical activity such as yoga.
Foods to avoid with gestational diabetes
If you are pregnant and have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, it is important to avoid certain foods that can cause spikes in your blood sugar levels. These foods include:
- Carbonated Drinks – It has very high sugar content , and should be avoided or limited.
- Candy and Chocolates – Have high sugar content as well; try to limit these sweets to once per day but avoid if you are experiencing frequent hunger pangs when not eating your food.
- Fruit Juice – Liquids in general have the tendency of producing an insulin response that is similar to those produced by carbohydrate consumption, so fruit juices can cause spikes in blood sugar levels if consumed too often. Consider diluting them with water instead.
- Rice Cakes – These are lower in carbohydrates than breads and pastas, which might make them seem like a better option for someone with gestational diabetes–but they actually contain glucose syrup (a type of sweetener). It may be best just to steer clear from cake products altogether.
- Fried foods containing excessive oil or butter – Fried foods are definitely not a good idea for those with gestational diabetes because of the high fat content.
- Sweetened or “sugar-free” desserts – This is another area where it’s best to avoid all together. Even if they may be lower in calories and carbohydrates, there isn’t any way to tell how these products will affect your blood sugar levels before you eat them.
- Ice Cream – Ice cream contains both fats and sugars which could lead to an insulin spike that might make things worse than they already are. Consider substituting frozen yogurt as an alternative; this has less overall fat but still provides some protein from its dairy base.
- Sugary Breakfast cereals – Even if it contains whole grains and fiber it still has too much sugar.
- High Fat dairy products such as cream cheese, sour cream, full-fat cheeses.
Avoid foods and drinks containing artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols as they can have the same effect on blood glucose levels as sugary foods do.
Limit salty snacks such as chips, pretzels, popcorn, hot dogs/corn dogs etc., which are high in sodium content – this will cause you retain water and could lead to increased swelling. It is important to read labels carefully before you purchase these items to make sure they’re appropriate for gestational diabetes management. Avoid eating more than one serving per day unless your doctor says otherwise.
Smaller portions not only help control weight gain but also minimize upsets to your stomach from overeating: if it’s too full it isn’t able to absorb nutrients properly. It is important not to eliminate all carbs from your diet; those with gestational diabetes need to get about 150g of carbs per day for a total of 300-400g daily.
Treatment for Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a complication that may occur during pregnancy. It happens when the body does not produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. The condition can result in weight gain, excessive thirst and hunger, blurred vision, or slow-healing sores or skin wounds.
If you have any of these symptoms, it is important for you to be tested as gestational diabetes can lead to serious health complications for both mother and baby. Gestational diabetes is usually treated with either diet changes or medication but if your gestational diabetes progresses into type 2 then insulin injections may be recommended by your doctor.
There is no “cure” for gestational diabetes but you can minimize your risks by: eating a healthy diet and maintaining an exercise routine in order to keep your blood sugar levels steady; controlling your weight gain, if any during pregnancy.
A balanced diet is important while you are pregnant because of the changes that occur in how nutrients are processed. If you have gestational diabetes it’s really important to eat foods that provide glucose-controlling carbohydrates like starches, vegetables with high fiber content (especially dark green leafy ones), fruits, beans/legumes, dairy products and whole grains. In particular avoid sugary drinks or desserts as they might lead to higher spikes in insulin level which may then result into excessive hunger pangs – leading people who suffer from gestational diabetes to eat more.
Injecting insulin is another way to control glucose levels, but the downside is that it can lead to weight gain.
The important thing though is for pregnant women who have gestational diabetes and want to lose weight while they are pregnant, is not to restrict their food intake too much. By eating well you will be able to maintain a healthy pregnancy as well as stay motivated with your diet plan.
Risk associated with Gestational Diabetes
In the United States, gestational diabetes affects around six to eight percent of all pregnant women. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy and for most people it does not lead to any serious complications.
However, there are some risks associated with having this condition during pregnancy including a higher risk of:
- developing high blood pressure or preeclampsia
- needing a cesarean delivery because your baby is too big
- delivering early (before 37 weeks)
- giving birth to an infant who might suffer from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) at birth
- gaining excess weight in between pregnancies due to insulin resistance which may then lead on the development obesity or type II diabetes later on in life.