Along with the good news, gestational diabetes comes as a shock to some women. Gestational diabetes is diabetes that occurs only in pregnant women; that means women can’t get it unless they are pregnant. Having gestational diabetes doesn’t mean one need to take a special diet. Depending on the present diet, women should make some changes to their diet such as limiting the consumption of some foods and more of the others.
Women may develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy either for the first time or they might have an undiagnosed case of diabetes that may get worse when they are pregnant.
Why does gestational diabetes occur?
During pregnancy, there are some changes in the way the body uses insulin and women naturally become more resistant to insulin in order to provide the baby with more glucose.
In some pregnant women, the body either stops responding to insulin or doesn’t produce enough insulin to give the glucose they require. When this happens, the sugar levels in the blood get increased. And this causes gestational diabetes.
How can gestational diabetes be managed?
Gestational diabetes can be managed well with diet and exercise. If these two aren’t enough to control the blood sugar levels, women need to take insulin or medication.
What are the dietary guidelines for gestational diabetes?
The moment a woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes, she should consult a dietician in order to get diet assessments which can lower the risk. The dietician will calculate a number of carbohydrates one requires and teaches how to count them. The dietary recommendations which can help women with gestational diabetes to maintain and control the blood sugar levels include:
- Distribute your meals: Blood sugar levels can rise too much if much amount of food is taken at a time. So it is highly recommended to divide the foods between three meals and two snacks. During pregnancy, women have high nutritional needs to provide balanced nutrition for baby. Hence, pregnant women should not skip their meals.
- Eat the right amount of starch: Foods that are high in starch raises the glucose levels. So it is important to watch the amount of starch in every meal. One cup of total starch per meal is the reasonable portion to maintain the glucose levels and lower the risk.
- Limit fruit servings: Though having fruits is healthy, they are high in natural sugars. One with gestational diabetes can have one to three portions of fruit per day, but not all at a time. One-half cup of fruit will be fine to have at a time. But fruits that have been canned in syrup should be strictly avoided.
- Breakfast is a must: The normal fluctuations in the hormone levels make it difficult to control the blood sugar levels in the morning. Having a good breakfast helps regulate the blood sugar levels throughout the morning. Porridge is one of the good options as it releases the energy slowly and evenly. Opt for a breakfast that contains both starch and protein.
- One cup of milk at a time: Milk is an important source of calcium, but it is a liquid form of carbohydrate and has too much at a time can raise the blood sugar levels. So, drink one cup of milk at a time to avoid an increase in sugar levels.
- Stay away from sugars & sweets: Avoiding sugar, honey or any kind of sweetened syrup is really important. Stay away from cakes, cookies or other foods that contain a high amount of carbohydrates with added sugars as they have a large amount of fat and very little of nutrition. Avoid all things which contain added sugars.
- Avoid fruit juice: Juice is a concentrated source of carbohydrates and as it is a liquid, it can raise the blood sugar levels quickly. So eat fruits instead of having them in the form of juices.
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