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Gestational Diabetes Diet: Foods to Eat and Avoid

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Pregnancy is one of the happiest moments in a woman’s life. However, it is also a time of enormous physical and emotional changes. While it might feel overwhelming initially, mild to moderate ailments during pregnancy is much more common than you might think. Some illnesses are routine, while others, like gestational diabetes, can be a cause of worry. However, adequate rest and a proper diet can solve the issue. Studies have shown that following a healthy diet for gestational diabetes can significantly help you take control of the condition.

Go ahead, eat wisely, responsibly, and maybe even a little bit with enjoyment. The goal is to create lasting routines that feel manageable and stress-free while managing your blood sugar levels in a healthy range throughout this beautiful period.

Gestational Diabetes: An Overview 

Gestational diabetes, also known as pregnancy diabetes, is when you develop high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. The fact that your body naturally reacts to insulin differently during pregnancy is one of the causes. Your body becomes more resistant to insulin during pregnancy because your body has to give the developing baby extra glucose. However, in a few women, the process goes completely wrong. Your body either stops responding to the insulin as it should or does not produce the necessary amount of insulin.

As the name suggests, gestational diabetes appears only during pregnancy, particularly in those who have never had diabetes. Fortunately, in most cases, it goes away soon after delivery. While managing gestational diabetes, diet and portion control are vital. Know that you can deliver normal and healthy babies with careful dietary monitoring and treatment, even while having gestational diabetes. 

The HealthifyMe Note

A diagnosis of gestational diabetes might feel daunting during a time when there are many emotional and physical changes. But don’t let yourself become overwhelmed since a few minor adjustments can make a big difference. For example, tracking your daily carb intake while monitoring the foods your body accepts and rejects in lowering your blood sugar levels can help manage gestational diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes Diet: Foods to Eat

Everyone has their version of what to eat when pregnant. After all, you know what’s best for you. And if you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, a dietician or a nutritionist will help you understand what changes you have to make in your diet. 

Some healthy foods for gestational diabetes that you can include in your diet are:

Lean Proteins

Eating at least 2 to 3 portions of protein-rich foods every day gives you a feeling of fullness and provides the fundamental building blocks for your child’s development. Some excellent sources of protein are:

  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Turkey
  • lentils
  • Nuts and nut butter, hummus
  • Tempeh and tofu
  • Soy chunks

Non-Starchy Vegetables

They are very low in carbohydrates but do not compromise on essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Some examples are:

  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers
  • Spinach
  • Beans
  • Onions
  • Bell peppers
  • Lettuce greens
  • Mushroom

Complex Carbohydrates

Your diet plan for gestational diabetes must include complex carbs instead of simple carbs. That is because they are high in fibre and have a low glycemic index, which helps reduce your risk of diabetes in the long run.

Complex carbohydrates to include are as follows:

  • Vegetables like beans, peas, lentils, corn, spinach, lettuce
  • Whole grain cereals like millet, oats, barley, quinoa and sorghum
  • Brown rice
  • Fruits like lemon, orange, guava, green apple 

Healthy Fats

Choosing healthy fats makes you fuller for a more extended period without unhealthy calories. Some options are:

  • Avocado
  • Nuts like walnuts, almonds, or peanuts 
  • Olive oil
  • Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds and sesame seeds

Foods to Avoid if You Have Gestational Diabetes

Most foods are healthy when eaten in moderation and balanced, but certain foods are generally not good when gestational diabetes is present. These include the following:

Sweet Foods

Your blood sugar levels rise when you consume sugary meals, especially refined or processed. Therefore, those with gestational diabetes should avoid foods with added sugar.

Avoid sugary foods such as:

  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Candy
  • Desserts
  • Sweet pastries
  • Soda
  • Ice cream
  • Fruit juice

Starchy Foods

As per research, high carbohydrate content in starchy foods can raise blood sugar levels. Food that is exceptionally high in starch with a higher glycemic index is best avoided or kept to a minimum, such as:

  • White bread 
  • Potatoes
  • White pasta and white rice
  • Naans
  • Overly ripe bananas

Soft Drinks

Soft drinks are refreshing on a hot summer’s day, but their sugar and artificial flavours are not healthy. Instead, substitute soft drinks in your gestational diabetes diet with natural refreshing beverages like coconut water, lime juice (without sugar) or spiced buttermilk. 

The HealthifyMe Note

You are bound to have some cravings during pregnancy. But you must be careful with what you put in your body when dealing with gestational diabetes. For obvious reasons, there is a strict limitation on sweets like Jamuns, Rasgullas, pastries, and cakes. While they make for the tastiest of desserts, they also can worsen the effects of gestational diabetes.

Reference Plan for a Gestational Diabetes Diet

To be honest, there are no strict or one-size fits all menu for a gestational diabetes diet. Everyone may have a different diet, but the focus never shifts from following a balanced diet with complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. A doctor or nutritionist will always be the most suited advisor. One way to know what is right is to talk with qualified nutritionists by simply investing in a HealthifyMe subscription. 

Here is what a day on a gestational diabetes diet plan would look like. 

Early Morning (6 a.m. – 7 a.m.)

  • Cinnamon tea without milk: 1 cup
  • Almonds (previously soaked at night): 6

Breakfast (8 a.m. – 9 a.m.)

  • Vegetable oats upma: 1 bowl
  • Steamed sprouts: 1 cup or two boil egg whites

Mid Morning Snack (11 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.)

  • Guava: 1 medium-sized
  • Green tea: 1 cup

Lunch (1 p.m. – 2 p.m.)

  • Brown rice with steamed carrots, beans, peas, and onions: 1 small cup
  • Mint raita: ¼ cup
  • Dal/lentils/chicken curry: 1 small cup

Evening Snack (4 p.m. – 6 p.m.)

  • Coconut water: 1 glass
  • A handful of mixed nuts

Dinner (8 p.m. – 9 p.m.)

  • Multigrain Rotis: 2
  • Dal: 1 bowl
  • Tomato, cucumber, carrot salad: 1/4 cup

Before Bedtime

  • Low-fat milk: 1 small glass

Additional Strategies to Maintain Health During Gestational Diabetes

When you have gestational diabetes, food is not the only thing that can keep you healthy. You can take the following steps to have a healthy pregnancy in addition to eating a well-balanced diet:

Regular Exercise

Attempt to work out five days a week for at least 30 minutes. Don’t be scared to mix up your exercise routine for your health and enjoyment. However, talk to your doctor before beginning any workout regimen, and it is always good to have a fitness/yoga expert for supervision.

Do Not Skip Meals

Try to eat a healthy snack or meal every three hours to control your blood sugar levels. You can stabilise blood sugar levels and stay content by regularly eating nutrient-dense foods.

Vitamins

If your doctor advises, take prenatal vitamins, including probiotics.

Monitor Your Blood Sugar

Check your blood sugar four times a day, after fasting and for one to two hours after each meal.

Reduce Stress

Try to calm yourself down because stress also causes blood sugar to rise. The calmer and stress-free your mind is, the better you feel. Moreover, try some fun activities or light yoga to reduce stress. 

Conclusion

A good gestational diabetes diet plan includes lots of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables, so controlling gestational diabetes with food doesn’t have to be complicated. However, avoiding saturated fats, simple carbohydrates, and refined sweets is crucial. To assist your body in balancing blood sugar levels, you should also increase your daily exercise. During this joyous time, you can feel vibrant, full of energy, and have smooth, stable moods while managing gestational diabetes if your diet is more balanced.

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