Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy. During pregnancy, hormonal changes can make cells less responsive to insulin, which is fine for most mothers.
However, for some people, the pancreas cannot keep up with the increased insulin levels and blood glucose levels rise, resulting in gestational diabetes. After giving birth, most women do not develop diabetes. When you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you need to eat a healthy and balanced diet.
Carbohydrates are needed for energy, but too many of them can lead to higher sugar levels. Reducing intake refined carbohydrates is key. Carbohydrates can be simple or complex. Simple carbohydrates are sugars, which can be added sugars (table sugar and honey) or natural sugars (sugar from fruits and milk).
Complex carbohydrates are starchy carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, bread, grains and more. Within simple and complex carbs, choose healthier options. For example, it’s best to use sugar from fruit instead of table sugar or whole grains for extra fiber. Avoid added sugar and be aware of your intake of complex carbohydrates.
Low GI Foods
Food glycemic index (GI) is a measure of the speed at which sugar is released into the bloodstream after intake. It is important to eat foods that are low on the GI but high in fiber. This helps manage diabetes because low GI foods take longer to digest so glucose is released slowly.
Examples of low GI foods are fruits such as peaches, oranges, apples and pears, lentils, chickpeas, sweet corn, and pasta with durum wheat flour. You can also combine high GI and low GI foods such as peanut butter and toast or baked potatoes and baked beans.
Improving Your Diet
- Great breakfast. Start your day with a healthy breakfast to manage blood sugar all morning. Choose low GI foods that release energy evenly and slowly. Combining whole-grain cereals with protein-rich foods like hard-boiled eggs is also good.
- Eat in variety. Eat a variety of foods throughout the day so you get different nutrients. Color can be your guide to achieve this. Add red peppers or green salad to your plate of brown meat. Eat regularly and avoid skipping meals.
- High fiber foods. Fiber can prevent blood sugar from rising after eating. Fiber from whole-grain cereals and breads, fresh fruits and vegetables is best. Beans, dried peas and beans are also excellent sources of fiber.
- Five servings of fruit. You can follow five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Eat fruit for breakfast, add a salad to your lunch, grab two vegetables for dinner and snack on fruit.
- Avoid saturated foods. Saturated fat raises cholesterol levels in the blood, putting people with diabetes at risk for heart problems and strokes. Avoid foods with saturated fats such as lard, salted pork, back fat, high-fat meat (bologna, bacon, sausage), high-fat dairy (full-fat cheese, ice cream), butter, and poultry skin. Look for better alternatives such as olive or sunflower oil for cooking, healthier spreads over butter, grilling or grilling in a deep fryer and trimming the fat from meats.
Whether you have gestational diabetes or not, proper nutrition is very important during pregnancy. Your main goal is to make sure your blood glucose levels are under control. Choose nutritious sources of carbohydrates or eat fewer carbohydrates.
It also helps spread your carbs throughout the day. After giving birth, continue your healthy eating habits especially if you plan to breastfeed as you run the risk of developing gestational diabetes again in your next pregnancy or worse, developing type 2 diabetes.