gestational diabetes diet plan

Best Foods to Eat

Pregnancy is a time of great change throughout the body. On top of noticeable physical changes and discomforts, gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy when the individual hasn’t been diagnosed with diabetes before.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 2-10% of pregnancies are impacted by gestational diabetes. So, why does gestational diabetes occur? And what is a gestational diabetes meal plan you can easily implement over the next few months?

Why Does Gestational Diabetes Happen?

Gestational diabetes is similar to other types of diabetes. It occurs when the body is unable to make enough insulin. In turn, there isn’t enough insulin to help glucose enter the body’s cells from the bloodstream.

Generally, this happens due to weight gain and hormonal changes during pregnancy. The result? Your body isn’t able to use or produce insulin as effectively. In fact, all pregnant women experience some level of insulin resistance during pregnancy. However, not all of these cases result in a gestational diabetes diagnosis.

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Your Gestational Diabetes Diet Plan

It’s always important to listen to your doctor’s advice. The following should not replace the recommendations given to you but, rather, complement them. However, if you’re unsure, discuss your options with your doctor first.

With that in mind, here are a few guidelines for eating healthy with gestational diabetes.

1. Select Complex Carbs Over Refined Carbs

Monitoring your carbohydrate intake can go a long way in managing your blood sugar levels. A healthy meal should always consist of about 30-45 grams of carbs, alongside some protein and fats.

By selecting complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, vegetables and legumes, you’ll also lower your risk of spiking your blood glucose. In turn, this can help prevent diabetic complications during your pregnancy.

2. Eat at Regular Intervals

With diabetes, portion sizes are important, but so is eating regularly so your body falls into a rhythm. Plus, eating too much at once can lead to unnecessary blood sugar spikes.

Instead, consume about two to three meals each day with about two snacks. This should help you obtain balanced nutrition and adequate calories to support you and your baby.

3. Eat Plenty of Fiber

Fiber slows down the amount of sugars that enter your bloodstream. This can help prevent blood sugar spikes and associated complications. Some great types of fiber-rich foods include:

  • Whole grains.
  • Beans.
  • Lentils.
  • Split peas.

Some fruits may also fall into this category. However, you want to be careful with fruit as some types may spike your blood sugar more than others, depending on their glycemic index (GI) rating.

4. Eat Primarily Whole Foods

Whole foods will help you obtain the nutrients your body and baby need. In contrast, processed and pre-packaged food items often contain low nutritional values and high calories, which can lead to tricky situations for those with diabetes.

Focus on making homemade meals over eating out. Select vegetables and fruits from the produce sections instead of grabbing packaged options.

5. Limit Sugary Drinks

Soda, energy drinks and more contain plenty of sugar and few nutrients. While you may crave these, it’s important to opt for alternatives instead to avoid a quick rise in blood sugar levels. For instance, diet sodas may be a better option or even flavored water.

6. Incorporate Movement

Always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine. Yet, research shows that aerobic and moderate strength training during pregnancy can help efficiently manage gestational diabetes.

It’s recommended to perform aerobic and resistance training at least three times a week. Additionally, regular walks can help manage blood sugar levels, especially post-meal.

Other Things to Note

Lastly, make sure you monitor your blood sugar levels regularly. This can not only prevent complications associated with gestational diabetes but also help you learn efficient ways to manage it.

Your doctor may also recommend taking insulin or other medication, depending on your situation.

Will Gestational Diabetes Go Away After Pregnancy?

For most women, gestational diabetes resolves on its own post-birth due to the sudden changes in hormones and other chemicals in the body. In fact, most doctors will recommend not taking any gestational diabetes medication immediately after giving birth.

If it doesn’t go away, you may be diagnosed with type II diabetes and be advised of ongoing management of your condition. It is likely your doctor will closely monitor this after delivery and determine the best strategy going forward. Most often, many women diagnosed with gestational diabetes undergo glucose monitoring and testing six to eight weeks after delivery.