If you are being pregnant and diagnosed with gestational diabetes, it’s so important to keep monitoring and managing the level of your blood sugar. And when it comes to managing blood glucose level, appropriate diet is a part of the primary treatment because any foods that you eat can be potential to affect the volume of glucose in the bloodstream. If you are still confused on how and where you should start your diet, here is gestational diabetes sample meal plan – however to keep safe and for best advice, it’s much better to discuss with your doctor before starting your diet.
Gestational diabetes is pretty rare in pregnancy, particularly if compared with type-2 diabetes (the most common type) – it only affects about 4 percent of all pregnancy cases, according to WebMD. It can affect the health of your baby and pregnancy if left untreated or poorly managed! After pregnancy, it usually will goes away on its own. However, if you have it during pregnancy, your risk of having type-2 increases later in your life! Therefore, it’s still important to stick with a well-balanced diet and healthy lifestyles to prevent prediabetes of type-2.
The major checklists in managing gestational diabetes
As noted before, controlling blood sugar as close to normal as possible is the major goal of your diet. However, there are also other crucial issues that you also need to concern in your treatment plan. These may include:
- Your focus should not only your blood sugar – you need also to control blood pressure! Having high blood pressure during pregnancy also can increase your risk of pregnancy complications.
- Eating right and in right amount! It’s not only important to make sure you get plenty of essential nutrients for your baby and your pregnancy, but also can help control your weight gain. How far you should gain weight during pregnancy – visit this section for in-depth information!
- There are several types of tool to help you monitor your blood sugar. But you can also monitor it through your urine. If you find ketones in your urine (ketones are a kind of acid that can signal uncontrolled blood sugar), tell your doctor!
- Diet is not single way of you treatment plan. You need also get plenty of physical activity (moderate exercise) to improve your fit status and your insulin sensitivity.
- If necessary, sometime your doctor may also ask you to take insulin replacement.
- Follow your treatment plan that made by your healthcare provider!
Gestational diabetes meal plan during pregnancy
In general, meal plan for gestational diabetes is similar to meal plan for type-1 and type-2 diabetes. But there may be some adjustments to make sure that your diet can provide plenty of nutrients for your pregnancy and the growth of your baby.
What are foods you need to avoid?
The following are major checklists of foods you need to restrict or avoid if necessary:
- Foods high in sodium. Salt may not directly affect your blood glucose, but it can affect your blood pressure. If you have diet high in salt, this can put you at greater risk of hypertension which can also be harmful for your baby.
- Foods high in cholesterol (such as high-fat animal products, high-fat dairy products, and shellfish). Control your cholesterol not more than 200 mg /day!
- Saturated fats which commonly found in bacon or other animal proteins and high-fat dairy products.
- Another unhealthy fat you need to restrict is trans-fat! It is commonly found in baked foods, fried-foods, and processed foods.
Different approaches of diet for gestational diabetes!
There are several different approaches of diet to manage your blood sugar. With the help of your registered dietitian or doctor, you may find one of the following methods or a combination of the following methods works for you:
Glycemic index [GI]
It is a method to rate the level of food in affecting the blood sugar. Foods with low GI are commonly considered less likely to affect blood sugar, but they are not always considered healthier! For instance, foods high saturated fats are also more likely to have low glycemic index but they are unhealthy foods.
The exchange system
In this method, one package or group of serving is named an ‘exchange’. Each exchange is designed to have the same level of effect on the blood sugar. The foods of each exchange are different but contain the same amount of calories, fat, protein, and carbohydrate. For instance, you can exchange one-third cup of cooked pasta by 1 small apple.
It’s undeniable that carbohydrates that you eat play a key role of blood sugar fluctuation. Fats and protein also can cause impact on blood sugar, but they don’t cause as much as carbohydrate does. Therefore, counting your carbohydrate intake a day is crucial. Furthermore, you need also to stick with your regular meals in order to maintain the regular timing of your carbohydrate intake for every day.
Make your gestational diabetes meal plan!
The meal plan for pregnant women with gestational diabetes varies from person to person, depending on your normal calorie requirement /day, whether or not you take insulin, etc. But with your dietitian, you can make some meal plans that meet your body needs. Your meal plan may also be adjusted along with the progress of your pregnancy.
The following is a sample meal plan if your body needs about 1,200 calories – 1,600 calories per day:
- For your breakfast, you can try with whole-wheat pancakes, a cup of free-fat milk, and a piece of fruit.
- Then for your lunch – chicken kabob, a half cup of cooked rice, a half cup of broccoli (steamed broccoli)l, and a half cup of juice can be one of good choices.
- Pasta loaded with yellow squash, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, & Parmesan cheese can be a good choice for your dinner. A cup of low-fat milk is also good idea in the end of the day.
Below are some general tips that you can follow:
- It’s very important to stick with your meals at regular times every day – don’t ever skip your meal!
- You can try with 3 small main meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), and get 2-3 small healthy snacks — and again eat them at regular times every day!
- Generally, your carbohydrate intake per day should not be more than 45 percent of your total calories per day. For saturated fats (unhealthy fats), keep them less than 10 percent of your total calories. And for unsaturated fats (healthy fats), you can eat them for about 30 percent of your total calories – according to WebMD.
- Keep far away from greasy, fatty, and fried foods — and on the other hand, keep close with foods high in fiber, low in fat, and low in salt! Make sure you get plenty of fiber for about 20-35 grams per day!
- If you experience morning sickness, frequent meals or eating some small healthy meals throughout the day can be helpful – but again don’t forget include them in your carbohydrate counting!
- Gestational diabetes is not only about high blood sugar, there is also a chance for you to have hypoglycemia (too low level of blood sugar). So, make sure you also completely understand what you will do if you experience hypoglycemia – ask your doctor for more advice! The risk of hypoglycemia is relatively higher when you are taking insulin and experiencing morning sickness.
- Keep hydrated – get about 8 cups of liquids a day!
- Don’t forget to get plenty of other essential nutrients for the growth of your baby! You need also to get adequate vitamins and minerals from your diet. For this reason, your doctor usually prescribes prenatal vitamins, and some mineral supplements if necessary!
Again, it is very important to work with your dietitian and doctor to make the best meal plan. Healthy foods and eating in the right amount & at regular times (scheduled) are necessary to control your blood glucose during pregnancy. If you stray from the prescribed treatment plan, you will run your risk of getting more blood sugar fluctuation that then can be too risky for your pregnancy and baby.
Some studies found that pregnant women with gestational diabetes are more likely to develop some pregnancy complications if compared with pregnant women who don’t have it. However, many of them can cope with the problem and successfully deliver a healthy baby as long as they stick to the treatment plan and manage their blood sugar as well during pregnancy.