The guidelines mainly specify that a gestational diabetes woman, during pregnancy, must incorporate in her diet the list of foods that balance out the restrictions of her diabetes condition and cater to the additional requirement of nutrients and calories needed during pregnancy.
Your diabetic specialist and dietitian will help you in this regard. They will guide you on what to eat and what to avoid when you develop gestational diabetes.
Carbohydrates form the center of a healthy gestational diet plan and are limited to control your blood sugar.
For those who are unaware, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is glucose intolerance (high blood sugar levels) that develops in a non-diabetic woman during her pregnancy.
As mentioned in treatment for gestational diabetes, what foods you eat play a central role in the management of gestational diabetes and can even help prevent the need for medication.
The right way to eat for gestational diabetes during pregnancy
- Have frequent small healthy snacks during the day – every four hours or so – instead of three large meals. The American Diabetes Association recommends that you eat three small-to-moderate-size meals and two to four snacks every day, including an after-dinner snack.
- Do not overeat.
- Do not skip meals.
- If you are of normal weight, your daily additional calorie requirement increases by 200 calories to promote your baby’s growth and keep you healthy during pregnancy.
- Eat food that is properly cooked.
- Avoid foods described in the post: Foods to avoid during pregnancy and why
- If you have morning sickness, do eat breakfast in the morning that contains carbohydrates (complex carbs) and has a little bit of protein too.
It is necessary to remember that during pregnancy you are eating not just for yourself but also for your baby. Eating for two does not mean you have to eat double.
You just need 200 calories more every day to cope with your additional demands of pregnancy. And what you eat is more important than how much you eat. Gaining the right amount of weight during the pregnancy period is very important. It tells you that your pregnancy is growing at a healthy pace.
There is a whole good wide variety of foods for vegetarians and for the non-vegans to choose from to plan your GDM meals
In gestational diabetes, it is necessary to pay special attention to the type of carbohydrates that you eat. Carbohydrate counting helps you to determine the amount of your carbohydrate intake and helps you learn how to spread its intake throughout the day.
ScienceDirect gives a good recount of carbohydrate counting.
Choosing complex carbohydrates (high-quality carbohydrates) will be good and this will also prevent you from going overboard with your weight. Due to their fiber content, complex carbohydrates help fight constipation which is often present during pregnancy.
Eating these high-quality carbohydrates also helps to prevent gestational diabetes. Complex carbohydrates are digested and absorbed slowly in the intestines thereby preventing any spike in blood sugar levels.
Complex carbohydrates give more nutritional value than simple carbohydrates. Read about nutrition in pregnancy to know the good carbohydrate foods.
Limit simple carbohydrate intake.
Whole grains are a good source of complex carbohydrates and fiber. Eat whole grain bread, whole grain rice, and pasta, oats, and cereals as they contain fewer carbohydrates and will not let you go beyond the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). Whole grains including oats are also a good source of fiber and proteins.
Low-fat milk and milk products
Low-fat dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, buttermilk, and paneer are the best source of proteins and calcium, and you should take them daily.
However, milk contains lactose, a simple sugar and therefore, limit your intake of milk. Avoid soft cheese such as goat cheese and feta (white salty Greek cheese made from the milk of ewes or goats).
Fresh vegetables, nuts, and fruits form an important part of the gestational diabetes diet
Fresh fruits and vegetables are a good source of proteins, vitamins, minerals such as iron and fiber.
While some fruits and vegetables are high in carbohydrates, they also contain fiber, which reduces the net carb value of the foods, helps to regulate blood sugar and prevents constipation, which is a symptom often seen during pregnancy.
Vegetables that should be kept in mind are green leafy vegetables, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, legumes, beans, peas, lentils. Limit intake of starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, and peas because they contain more simple carbohydrates and can consequently increase your blood sugar levels at a quicker rate.
Fruits that are good for gestational diabetes patients will be mango, oranges, apple, dried fruits, pear, strawberries, bananas, tomato juice, watermelon, peaches, and cherries.
Nuts are a good source of proteins. Nuts rich in proteins include peanuts, cashew nuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts and coconuts.
Lean Meat and Poultry
Meat is a good source of proteins, which contains all the required amino acids. Choose lean meat and avoid fatty meat portions. Eggs should be eaten but never raw nor soft-boiled.
Seafood such as wild salmon, trout, shrimp, lobster meat, tilapia, crab meat, and clams are a good source of proteins and essential fatty acids. About 3 oz will again supply you with half your daily requirement.
It is important to note here that mercury is a contaminant, which is found in certain fish and this is detrimental to the development of the brain and nervous system of the baby. Therefore, avoid fish such as swordfish, shark, marlin, tilefish and king mackerel
Fluids and Water
Drinking adequate amount water (about 10 to 12 glasses) during pregnancy helps to keep you well hydrated. This also flushes out toxins from the body and helps to prevent constipation, edema and hemorrhoids.
Ensure that the water you drink is clean. Fruit juices and coconut water are also good to replenish your fluid requirement but they contain calories so don’t over use them.
Tea, coffee or cold drinks cannot be considered as good fluid additives. Do read benefits of drinking water.
Now head over to the American Diabetes Association to their myplate article, which will help you plan your healthy plate for each meal.
Foods to Avoid in Gestational Diabetes
You should avoid foods like chips, fried junk foods, butter, cookies, cakes, stick margarine, fat ice cream and such fatty foods.
Limit your intake of foods and beverages that contain simple sugars such as soda, fruit juice, flavored teas and flavored waters, white potatoes and white rice and most desserts – or avoid them altogether. These foods can cause a rapid rise in your blood sugar levels.
And, no alcohol in any form.
If your prescribed diet does not control your gestational diabetes, then maybe you are not exercising enough.
But if are, then you need to consult your doctor who may possibly put you on medication.