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If you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, at first, it might feel stressful having to closely watch what you eat and know that if you don’t take care of your dietary plans, you and your baby might be at risk for problems.
On the other hand, it can be empowering to know that eating right can keep you and your baby healthy! So, let’s take on this challenge! Let’s get you to eat like a smart, savvy mom-to-be. Who knows? Maybe you’ll enjoy it a little, too. Keep on reading to know more about Gestational Diabetes Diet!
What Is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a condition where your body is not able to properly regulate the level of glucose or sugar present in your blood. Somewhere between 2% and 10% of pregnancies each year are affected by this condition. During your pregnancy, if you get gestational diabetes, it most likely was brought on by the hormones released by the placenta and/or the weight gain. It will most likely go away after your little one is born.
When you are between 24 weeks pregnant and 28 weeks of pregnancy, most women get glucose tolerance and/or glucose challenge tests. If your blood sugar levels are elevated in those tests, it indicates that you might have gestational diabetes. After a gestational diabetes diagnosis, your healthcare provider will most likely have a talk with you on how to check your blood sugar levels.
Also, they would recommend you discuss this with a registered dietitian about a personalized eating plan. If you eat according to the suggested gestational diabetes meal plan, it will protect your baby from any potential complications, such as high birth weight and preterm birth. Remember to not stress, because eating smart can help you and your baby stay healthy! It is worth it!
What Are Some Symptoms Of Gestational Diabetes?
Some expecting women might notice gestational diabetes symptoms even before being tested by their health care provider. You might notice symptoms like blurred vision, increased thirst and urination, and fatigue. All of these could be masked by normal pregnancy fatigue. Though, most women might not experience any symptoms at all. So, it’s important to go to all of your prenatal appointments to make sure you and your baby are healthy.
How to Prevent Gestational Diabetes?
You can do a couple of things to help reduce your risk of developing gestational diabetes. However, if you do get diagnosed, remember that it’s not your fault. If you are obese or overweight, you can lower your risk simply by making some necessary dietary changes to keep your blood sugar levels normal and help you gain less weight throughout pregnancy.
If you were at a healthy weight before pregnancy which is BMI 18.5-24.9, there are no dietary changes shown to prevent gestational diabetes. You could also start exercising from the start of your pregnancy to lower your risk of gestational diabetes.
What are The Guidelines for a Gestational Diabetes Diet?
In the case of gestational diabetes meal plans, there’s no one-size-fits-all. The ultimate goal of your diet is to incorporate foods that support healthy blood sugar levels. You need to follow the general guidelines, then customize your meal plans based on the sample gestational diabetes meal plan and the foods that you like. Consult a registered dietitian to determine your exact carbohydrate needs. They will also provide you with an individualized gestational diabetes meal plan.
1. Choosing complex carbohydrates
It’s important to pay attention to the type and amount of carbohydrates you’re eating because carbohydrates increase blood sugar more than protein and fat. Always talk with your dietitian about your specific needs.
Try to aim for about 15-30 grams of carbs per snack and 30-45 grams of carbs per meal. A good choice would be complex carbohydrates because they have more fiber, which slows digestion and prevents blood sugar from rising. Some other examples of complex carbs are beans, whole grains, and vegetables.
2. The "Plate Method" for Easy Portion Control
In this method, you can eyeball appropriate portions without pulling out a measuring cup or counting calories. This makes plating a healthy, balanced meal simple and easy. Your plate should be portioned in such a way that during each meal, half of your plate is non-starchy vegetables, a quarter of your plate is lean protein, and a quarter of your plate is whole grains. Eating a consistent amount of carbohydrates during each meal is important.
3. Pairing Carbohydrates With Protein and Healthy Fats
Doing this prevents spikes in blood sugar, and also keeps you full because protein and fat are digested more slowly than carbohydrates. For instance, if you are having an apple as a snack, pair it with peanut butter. This provides you with protein and healthy fat.
4. Eating at Regular Intervals Throughout The Day
You need to eat three meals and two or three snacks every day. Remember to not skip your meals! If you skip your meals, it will deprive you and your baby of necessary nutrients and it could also cause your blood sugar to drop too low.
What Should A Gestational Diabetes Food List Include?
Like we mentioned before, there’s no standard food plan that works for every expecting mother with gestational diabetes. It all depends on how much carbs you’re eating with protein and fats. As your blood sugar spikes the most because of carbs you should limit them. Different people have different dietary needs and their tolerance to carbohydrates varies too. To know if you’re eating the right quantity of carbohydrates and balanced foods, you need to pay close attention to your blood sugar response after meals. Hence, why it’s important for expecting women with gestational diabetes to monitor their glucose levels with the help of a glucose meter. You can tweak your diet plan with your healthcare provider or dietician as you go, to make it work for you. Women with gestational diabetes should aim to include the following in their diet:
1. Balanced Meals and Snacks
Every meal should contain fat, carb, and protein.
2. Lean Protein
Some healthy protein choices for women with gestational diabetes include fish, poultry, tofu, and beans. Adding protein to your meal will help you feel satisfied and full. It might help you think more clearly when it is time to choose your next meal or snack. When you eat it along with carbs, protein helps balance your blood sugar level.
3. Healthy Fats
You should opt for unsaturated fats such as avocados, olive oil, salmon, tuna, and chia seeds. Even though carbohydrates provide you with quick energy, they might raise your blood sugar too quickly. Whereas, fat acts as a speed bump and slows your body’s absorption of the carbohydrate.
Opt for non-starchy vegetables that are low in carbohydrates and full of fiber and nutrients. This includes greens, tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, and peppers.
5. Lots of Water
Keep drinking up because dehydration can cause your blood sugar levels to rise. Stick with plain ol’ H2O!
6. Fiber-rich Foods
Dietitians and nutritionists recommend having fiber, as it slows the absorption of food and also prevents a spike in blood sugar. For instance, go for bread and crackers that consist of at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
Additionally, you might want to consider taking a walk after every meal. After eating, even a little bit of exercise can lower blood sugar levels and help you manage your gestational diabetes.
What Foods Should You Avoid For Gestational Diabetes?
Unlike popular belief, just because you have gestational diabetes, you don’t have to completely cut out a whole bunch of foods. What you need is balance and not to go too crazy with the carbs, especially sugar. However, expecting women with gestational diabetes should try to avoid the following:
1. Any Sugary Drinks
You should skip the soda and fruit juice, even the all-natural, organic, no-sugar-added juice comes with carbs. It will increase your level of blood sugar. If you want to drink something different, you could go for water with lemon, water flavoring packets like True Lemon, or some sparkling water like LaCroix can also be refreshing and satisfying.
2. Too Many Sweets
Do you feel like having something sweet? Avoid having candy, cakes, and a lot of fruit when you have gestational diabetes because of their carbohydrates and sugar. However, you are allowed to have a little full-fat ice cream now and then.
3. Super-starchy Foods
Instead of skipping carbs like potatoes, pasta, white rice, and white bread completely, you should limit them or try pairing them with carbs and fats. You should go for whole grain and/or fiber-rich versions.
4. No-carb Dieting
Your body needs carbs, so do not try to cut them out completely just because you have gestational diabetes. Then, you’ll feel too deprived without them.
Some Gestational Diabetes Meal Plan & Recipe Ideas
While planning for a gestational diabetes-friendly meal, you should keep the needed balance in mind. Nutritionists and Dieticians recommend that each meal should contain some protein, healthy fat, carbohydrate, and non-starchy vegetables.
For instance, during lunch, you could try a whole wheat sandwich with roasted turkey breast, with a couple of slices of avocado, and top it off with lettuce. You can also add a side salad with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil dressing.
Are you in search of some recipes that fit into a gestational diabetes meal plan? Well, look no further because we have some seriously delicious options that you can enjoy when you have gestational diabetes. Besides, eating well for your baby’s health might help you stick to some healthy habits for the rest of your life. Check out these recipes!
A Final Word
We know that managing gestational diabetes through your diet seems a bit daunting. However, it doesn’t have to be! Simply use the gestational diabetes diet guidelines outlined above to customize your own gestational diabetes meal plan based on your preferences and tastes. What matters the most is to implement some sustainable habits that you can manage and be stress-free during this exciting time!