Gestational diabetes is glucose intolerance developed during pregnancy in a woman, who does not have pre-existing diabetes. It usually happens, when a pregnant woman's body can't efficiently produce or use insulin and large amounts of glucose collect in her blood, which can be harmful for herself and her developing baby. However, gestational diabetes can be well-managed by controlling blood glucose levels through a healthy diet.
The main consideration for Gestational Diabetes diet is carbohydrates in your foods. Carbohydrates convert to glucose when digested inside your body and raise blood sugar levels more than protein or fat. So, higher the carbohydrate content of the food you eat at one time, the higher your blood glucose level will rise. Foods rich in carbohydrates include starchy refined flour products (bread, breakfast cereals, biscuits, pasta, rice, noodles); starchy vegetables (potato, yam, sweet potato, and cola cassia); natural sugar containing foods like fruits (mango, banana, sapota (cheeku), pineapple) and dairy products.
However, you need not totally avoid carbohydrate foods, as sufficient intake of carbohydrates is necessary to avoid keton-uria, which occurs when the body burns fat and muscles for energy. So, just be careful that you do not take too many carbohydrates at one meal and distribute your carbohydrate intake throughout the day with frequent smaller meals and smaller portions.
As hormonal impact may cause early-morning insulin resistance, you need to limit carbohydrates especially refined carbohydrates in the morning. Choose more of complex carbohydrates from whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat, barley, finger millet), lentils, legumes and non-starchy vegetables.
Protein foods (beans, pulses, seed and nuts) help in maintaining post-meal blood glucose levels. Therefore, combining carbohydrates with a source of protein at each of your meal is recommended for optimizing your diabetes control. Protein foods also help you in controlling your appetite and healthy weight maintenance.
High fiber intake has many therapeutic benefits for gestational diabetes. It helps in lowering blood glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels; relieves constipation and assists in weight control by keeping you full for longer. Foods high in fiber are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, pulses and beans.
Another important thing, you have to watch out for is your fat intake. High fat foods, besides causing excess weight gain, makes your body prone for insulin resistance. However, do include healthy fats from nuts and seeds especially walnuts and flax seeds to meet your omega-3 fatty acids requirements.
Typically an Indian diet is high in carbohydrates with judicious use of protein (pulses, beans, seeds and nuts); fiber (vegetables, fruits and whole grains) and healthy fat, which is nutritious enough for your baby and you, without unhealthy rise in blood sugar levels. Also, go for light exercise such as 20-30 minutes of walk after every meal to maintain your blood sugar levels in a healthy range and manage your gestational diabetes naturally.
Dos for managing Gestational diabetes
1. Eat 3 smaller meals and 3 snacks, spaced at least 2-3hours apart at the same time everyday
2. Consume a well-balanced diet with variety of foods to get all the nutrients you and your baby need without unhealthy rise in blood sugar levels
3. Eat protein foods at meals and snacks or occasionally as an extra.
4. Include more high-fibre foods, such as fresh fruits, non-starchy vegetables and whole grain products in your meals and snacks.
5. Eat healthy home-made snacks (soup, salad, trail mix) and drink plenty of water or caffeine-free, sugar-free herbal teas in between meals.
Don'ts for managing Gestational diabetes
1. Don't skip meals or have long gaps between meals. Don't make more than 10 hours of gap between your bedtime snack and the breakfast meal
2. Don't eat sweet chutneys, oily pickles, ready-to-eat and fast foods that contain high levels of sodium and other preservatives
3. Limit added fats, choose low fat dairy products, and avoid fried or high fat foods and takeaways like samosas, tikki, creamy pastas and pizzas
4. Avoid sugar, honey, jam, syrup, Nutella and desserts containing these i.e. pastries, cakes, donuts, croissants, ice cream, lollies, sweets and chocolates
5. Don't drink alcoholic beverages, sweet sherbets, fizzy soft drinks, fruit juice and cordial. Limit coffee to 2 cups per day.
Also read more about: Top Tips For Managing Gestational Diabetes