Careful Monitoring By Your Doctor
To make sure all is going well, youll be watched more carefully during your nine months than other moms-to-be. Translation: You’ll need to have checkups and more routine tests.
Along with regular blood screenings, here are some of the exams you can expect:
Because diabetics are at somewhat higher risk for preeclampsia, your doctor will watch you closely for early signs of that condition, too, such as elevated blood pressure.
Gestational Diabetes And Pregnancy
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that is first seen in a pregnant woman who did not have diabetes before she was pregnant. Some women have more than one pregnancy affected by gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually shows up in the middle of pregnancy. Doctors most often test for it between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.
Often gestational diabetes can be controlled through eating healthy foods and regular exercise. Sometimes a woman with gestational diabetes must also take insulin.
Choosing A Healthy Diet
Since your diet will impact you and your baby, it’s important to find the right balance.
Start by asking your doctor for a referal to a registered dietician for guidance. It’s also good to eat low-glycemix index foods . To keep your blood sugar as stable as possible, spread your eating over 3 meals and 2-3 snacks.
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How To Manage Gestational Diabetes With A Healthy Diet
Consider a gestational diabetes diet plan your secret weapon to help prevent pregnancy and delivery complications. Even if you need diabetes medication, Asterino-McGeean says its still vital to follow a gestational diabetes diet.
Help keep blood sugar levels in check with a well-balanced diet. It should include lean sources of protein, plenty of non-starchy vegetables and correctly portioned complex carbohydrates, she says.
Bissell notes that working with a dietitian can take the guesswork out of eating with gestational diabetes. Your dietitian can help you set up balanced meals with the right amount of carbs to keep your blood sugars within the range your doctor recommends.
Gestational Diabetes Diet: 10 Dos And Donts To Follow To Keep Your Blood Sugar In Check During Pregnancy
If you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, dont get scared right at the onset of the diagnosis. Gestational diabetes is a common pregnancy complication that happens to many women in their second or third trimester of pregnancy where ones blood sugar levels remain higher than normal. But the silver lining is that the condition can be managed with proper diet and exercise. Medications are prescribed only when the first line of management fails to get the sugar levels under control.
Following a proper gestational diabetes diet plan can be of immense help.
What triggers gestational diabetes?
During pregnancy, an expectant mother can become resistant to insulin due to hormonal changes, especially due to the hormones secreted by the placenta. Insulin is the hormone secreted by the pancreas that helps in distributing glucose throughout the body to every single cell for energy.
In most cases, the body deals with this hormonal havoc on its own. However, it can lead to an increased amount of glucose in the blood if the body stops responding to insulin or doesnt make enough insulin for glucose dissemination. This could be a matter of concern as increased blood sugar levels could affect the health of both mother and baby.
What goes into a gestational diabetes diet plan?
Correcting your diet habits to keep gestational diabetes in control doesnt call for too much effort. Here are a few things that you can do:
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Type 2 diabetes causes the body to become resistant to the hormone insulin. This hormone unlocks cells. There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. While both types of the disease can cause problems, you can minimize the impact by following healthy eating and being physically active. The sooner you know more about diabetes, the better prepared you will be to deal with it. Once you know more about the disease, youll be better prepared for treatment.
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that causes the body to produce too much insulin. It is also known as type 2 diabetes. If you have type 1, you can control your blood glucose levels by eating a balanced diet. If you have type 2 diabetes, you can even prevent it by adopting healthy lifestyle habits and modifying your diet. Its important to seek information that can help you be your own health advocate. There are many different types of diabetes, so its important to learn as much as you can about the condition.
Planning Healthy Meals For Gestational Diabetes
There is only a slight increase in the amount of food you need to eat while you are pregnant. There is no need to eat for two. However, you do need more of certain nutrients, so its important to make healthy choices to make sure youre getting everything your body needs.
Your dietitian and diabetes educator can help you come up with healthy meal and snack options that are right for you. Its best to make small changes and swaps to the food you already eat rather than taking up a whole new diet. Itll be easier to stick to. Check out our tips on food swaps for gestational diabetes.
The below meal plan is just an example of how you can evenly spread out your carbohydrate foods across the day and ensure that you get enough of each of the different food groups. You might need slightly bigger portions or slightly smaller portions depending on your individual situation. It isnt meant to be a strict guide of what to eat, just ideas of balanced meals and snacks. Its food for thought.
Youll find more on healthy eating for gestational diabetes here.
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Choose Whole Fruit Over Fruit Juice
Fruits contain natural sugars . Whole fruits also contain dietary fiber. Fruits can be included in your meal plan, but because they contain carbohydrates, you should be mindful of portion sizes, eating only one serving at a time. Generally, a small piece of fruit or one-half cup of fruit or fruit juice counts as a serving size.
Fruit juice counts as fruit, but it usually doesnt contain the fiber found in whole fruits. For this reason, its recommended to choose whole fruit over fruit juice, as the fiber found in whole fruit will help keep your blood sugar levels from rising too high too quickly.
Avoiding Highly Starchy Foods
Starchy foods are high in carbohydrates and can have a significant effect on blood sugar, so it is important to eat them only in small portions. It is best to avoid or limit very starchy foods, including:
- white potatoes
- white rice
- white pasta
Although whole grains, such as whole wheat pasta and brown rice, are more nutritious, they are still high in carbohydrates. As a result, these foods may also be best in moderation.
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General Guidelines For A Gestational Diabetes Diet
Generally, you should focus on general heart-healthy eating practices. These can help manage your symptoms without medication. Good practices to follow include:
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables be sure to choose fresh or frozen foods. Canned fruit and vegetables can be higher in sugar.
- Choose fiber-rich foods fiber helps you stay full and helps control blood sugar levels.
- Consume enough protein protein is essential to build and repair tissue. Generally the recommended amount of protein is 0.36 x your body weight in pounds. E.g a 140 lb woman would need to eat 50 grams of protein a day.
- Eat healthy carbohydrates complex carbohydrates and take longer to break down into glucose. Too many unhealthy carbohydrates can spike your blood sugar. Be sure to choose carbohydrates like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and low-fat dairy.
- Choose healthy fats these include unsaturated fats found in foods like olive oil, avocadoes and nuts. Saturated fats are found in foods like red meat and processed foods.
- Keep an eye on portion sizes so you dont overeat.
Food Group & Function
Provide energy, essential vitamins & help maintain regular bowel function.
- ½ cup cooked rice/ noodles/ pasta
- 2 large crackers
Are needed for body repair & maintenance of good health.
Are needed for body repair & maintenance of good health.
Are essential for growth & maintenance of bones & teeth.
B vitamins (especially riboflavin & vitamin B¹²
2 3 serves
- 1 glass milk/ fortified soy milk
- 1 tub yoghurt
Are important for building, maintaining & repairing body tissue & muscle.
- 65 80g meat or chicken
- 100g fish
- 1 cup legumes
- 30g nuts
Adapted from The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating a publication of the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, 2013.
Here is a more in-depth look at iodine and folic acid, two nutrients especially important during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Iodine is important during pregnancy and breastfeeding for the normal development of a babys brain and nervous system. Iodine deficiency can result in learning problems in babies and young children and can also impact physical development and hearing. For mothers it can affect the thyroid gland resulting in a variety of symptoms including dry skin, hair loss, fatigue, slowed reflexes, depression and goitre.
For more detailed information see the Food Safety Australia & New Zealand fact sheet on Iodine in Food which includes the recommended daily intake for adults and children.
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Breakfast Ideas For Gestational Diabetes
Spinach Onion Swiss Omelet And Toast With Almond Butter
Omelets are a great choice for breakfast with gestational diabetes. This is the nutrition information for the omelets I make but you can put whatever veggies or cheese that youd like in yours and it wont change the carb and calorie content too much.
2 Eggs: Carbs 0 Calories 140
1/2 Cup Spinach: Carbs 0 Calories 5
1 Tbs. Chopped Red Onion: Carbs 1 Calories 4
2 Slices Swiss Cheese: Carbs 2 Calories 140
1/2 Tbs. Butter: Carbs 0 Calories 50
1 Slice Whole Wheat Bread: Carbs 17 Calories 90
1 Tbs. Almond Butter: Carbs 3 Calories 105
Dinner Ideas For Gestational Diabetes
Turkey Burger And Sweet Potato Fries
I absolutely love sweet potato fries and the nutrition information for this is based off of making them homemade using this recipe. One serving is about 1/2 a sweet potato.
1 Burger: Carbs 0 Calories 190
1 Slice Swiss: Carbs 1 Calories 70
Sweet Potato Fries: Carbs 13 Calories 56
2 Tbs. Ketchup: Carbs 10 Calories 40
Lemon Garlic Butter Shrimp, Brown Rice, And Broccoli
Lemon Garlic Butter Shrimp: Carbs 7 Calories 254
1/2 Cup Brown Rice: Carbs 22 Calories 108
1 Cup Broccoli: Carbs 11 Calories 55
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You should know that insulin can help you manage your diabetes and prevent further damage to your kidneys. If youre suffering from diabetes, its important to consult a doctor to make sure that youre a good candidate for the condition. If youre looking for more information, you can read about the various types of diabetes available, as well as how to get a free online health assessment. In many cases, its possible to avoid a doctors visit by doing simple exercises. If youre not familiar with the signs and symptoms of diabetes, you can read online articles about the condition and learn about its treatment.
Need More Information Or Support
Diabetes Queensland offers a Gestational Diabetes Support Service to provide you with additional support for a healthy pregnancy and connect you with others living with gestational diabetes.
This service is outstanding! For me, the gold was in the survival guide because it really helped me to understand Gestational Diabetes in a way that I wanted to take it seriously, but also felt supported on the journey and far less alone. Its a small cost for a lot of reassurance!
Sarah, 38, mum of twins
or contact us on 1800 177 055 to speak to a health professional that knows about gestational diabetes.
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Top Tips For Healthy Eating With Gestational Diabetes:
- Have some veggies like salad or cooked vegetables at every meal. Two handfuls will do the trick.
- Have two portions of fruit a day and choose low GI options like apples, pears, citrus and stone fruit.
- Choose wholegrain cereals with bran and oats, or natural muesli for breakfast.
- Choose grainy or seeded bread and bread rolls for extra fibre and slow release energy.
- Use low GI white or brown rice and pasta in your favourite family recipes.
- Choose reduced fat milk and cheese and low-fat plain yoghurt. Add your own fruit, seeds and nuts for flavour and crunch.
- Pick lean cuts of meat, take the skin off chicken, and include fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds and legumes for more protein variety.
- Use olive and canola oil and avocado for a dose of healthy fats.
Avoid foods and drinks with added sugars and little nutritional value like soft drinks, cordial, cakes, lollies and biscuits. Although its fine to have these every now and again if you have them regularly youll end up missing out on those important nutrients for you and your baby.
Dont forget that pregnancy hormones can affect a womans immune system, putting you at higher risk for food poisoning and other food illnesses. You should avoid:
- Soft cheeses and unpasteurized dairy products
- Sandwich meats and other cold meats
- Store bought sushi
Treatment For Gestational Diabetes
If your blood sugar results aren’t within the recommended limits for the follow-up glucose tolerance test, your doctor will want to keep a closer eye on your blood sugar for the remainder of your pregnancy. It’s possible that making dietary changes or getting more physical activity will be enough to keep your levels within recommended limits. If not, medication may be recommended. Either way, testing your own blood sugar will be a part of your daily routine.
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Things To Watch Out For With Gestational Diabetes Meals
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Foods To Avoid With Gestational Diabetes
Contrary to popular belief, you dont have to completely cut out a whole bunch of foods because you have gestational diabetes. Its all about balance and not going too crazy with the carbs, especially sugar.
But, in general, if you have gestational diabetes, try to avoid:
- Sugary drinks: Skip the soda and fruit juice. Even all natural, organic, no-sugar-added juice contains carbs and will raise your blood sugar. Try water with lemon or water flavoring packets like True Lemon, Tracy suggests. Sparkling water like LaCroix can also be refreshing and satisfying.
- Sweets: Got a sweet craving? Candy, cakes and a lot of fruit are no-gos when you have gestational diabetes because of their sugar and carbohydrates. But, says Auguste, you can have a little full-fat ice cream every now and then.
- Super-starchy foods: Were not saying pregnant women with gestational diabetes should skip carbs like potatoes, pasta, white rice and white bread completely, but you should definitely limit them, pair them with carbs and fats, and try to choose whole grain and/or fiber-rich versions instead.
- No-carb dieting: Do not try to cut carbs completely because you have gestational diabetes. Your body needs them, and youll feel too deprived without them.
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Checking Your Blood Sugar At Home
Checking and tracking your blood sugar with a blood glucose meter will help you and your health-care team manage your gestational diabetes. You may also take medication, if needed.
Sometimes healthy eating and physical activity are not enough to manage blood sugar levels, so your health-care provider may recommend insulin injections or pills for the duration of your pregnancy. Medication will help keep your blood sugar level within your target range. This will help to keep you and your baby in good health.
Your health-care team can answer your questions and support you through this important time in your life. But remember, the most important member of your health-care team is you!
Did Some Foods Increase Your Glucose Levels Above 78mmol
- Could you consider having a smaller portion or an alternative option next time?
- Some mothers find pairing carbohydrates with a protein or a small portion of a healthy fat can help to prevent post-meal spikes. For example:
- A portion of fruit with a teaspoon of no-added-sugar nut butter/ thin slice of cheese.
- Slice of seeded toast with a poached egg/tbsp of mashed avocado/ tsp of no-added-sugar nut butter.
Please note: For some expecting mothers it is not possible to manage their blood glucose levels through dietary changes alone and it may be necessary to start medication to help. Please do not feel that you have failed if this is the case.
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