- Women's Health
Gestational Diabetes - Indian Food Diet. Diabetes during pregnancy and the calorie count
This article tries to give a diet plan for Indian women who have Gestational Diabetes. It also provides the amount of carbohydrate in some of the indian food items commonly consumed on a day to day basis.
Disclaimer: “I am neither a licensed medical practitioner nor a dietician. Please do not take this as a medical advice. This is based on observations with my wife who had Gestational Diabetes (controlled by diet only - no medication). Your condition might vary, so please consult your Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN).”
“The period of development in the uterus from conception until birth”,
Gestational Diabetes is a diabetic condition that affects women during their late stages of pregnancy, usually 24-28 weeks.
The human body takes food we intake and digests it. The digested food is absorbed into our blood stream as glucose. As the glucose increases, the pancreas releases the insulin.
Diabetes - What happens?
The insulin is like a key that opens the cells so that they consume the glucose in the blood. In a diabetic condition the insulin is produced less or it does not open the cells to accept the glucose.
Pregnant women due to increased hormonal activity, require higher levels of insulin to keep their blood glucose level normal. Some pregnant women can’t produce these higher levels and hence their blood glucose levels start rising.
The problem with this during pregnancy is that the baby gets more glucose than normal and the results of this are listed below,
- The baby will grow bigger and might lead to difficulties during delivery.
- The baby for a short time after delivery will make more insulin than needed and blood glucose levels may drop too low.
- Baby might have breathing difficulties.
This condition goes away after pregnancy since the requirement for higher insulin levels are gone.
Indians and Diabetes
Did you know India is considered the diabetic capital of the world? It is estimated that up to three million people die from the disease every year, and over a quarter of a billion people are affected by diabetes. Why is that? Is it their food habits? How about Indians abroad? In a research conducted by Dr. P.V. Rao, a renowned diabetes researcher who tested Indians all over the world, in countries like Fiji, South Africa, Mauritius, … who had migrated there a few centuries ago were also prone to diabetes much more than the local demographic.Another interesting fact is Indian women living abroad are more likely to have diabetes than the ones in India.
The reason attributed to this is the changes in Indian diet. The traditional Indian diet was a well balanced combination of carbohydrates, proteins, fibers and other nutrients. But due the urbanization and life style changes in India the diet had been completely replaced by a much more easier to cook or eat out attitude. Indians eat less, weigh less hence this is very puzzling condition. Indians are supposedly genetically prone to get diabetes than any other ethnic group in the world. Further research is being done to find out the exact cause for this condition. In a test done in 2008, 14% of Urban Indians had diabetes and that is the largest anywhere in the world. Indian women will need to be extremely cautious and need to take proper measures to make sure they do not have Gestational diabetes and if they do take proper care to control this condition through proper diet and exercise or in extreme cases through medication.
Gestational Diabetes - Life Savers
You can monitor your blood glucose level after 2 hours of every meal you have. During initial days, it helps you find out what foods elevate your blood glucose levels. Must have!
Meal plan for Gestational Diabetes
Women with diabetes during pregnancy are required to follow a carefully regulated meal plan. The idea is to have small, frequent meals and lot of water. The diet should have 3 meals and 3 snacks. The food that they eat must be high fiber, less sugar foods like whole grain bread, beans, fresh fruits and vegetable. Chocolates, Candies and Cakes are a strict no no! These items deliver a large amount of glucose from a very small volume and very quickly shoot up your blood sugar levels.
Also avoid fruit juices with a lot of added sugar and watch out for saturated fats in your diet such as butter, whole milk, dairy and other animal fats.
Remember the idea is to have a balanced meal with fewer carbohydrates but not to completely stop you sugar intake. In fact that would be very dangerous to do so since carbohydrates are absolutely necessary for energy to you and your baby!
Here is the meal plan,
Meal – 30 grams of Carbohydrates, Any amount of protein, moderated fat.
Brunch Snack – 30 grams of Carbohydrates, Any amount of protein, moderated fat.
Lunch Meal – 45 grams of Carbohydrates, Any amount of protein, moderated fat.
Evening Snack – 30 grams of Carbohydrates, Any amount of protein, moderated fat.
Dinner – 45 grams of Carbohydrates, Any amount of protein, moderated fat.
Late Night Snack – 30 grams of Carbohydrates, Any amount of protein, moderated fat.
Allow at least 2 hour gaps between meals (you would be usually testing your sugars after 2 hours from time of starting a meal). The idea is to balance out your carbohydrates with protein. Protein takes longer to digest and hence gives a feeling of satisfaction.
Tip: We observed that eating egg (scrambled or even omlette) with 2 slices of bread and a glass of milk gave better results than without. Likewise for lunch with chapati's, one could get away eating an additional chapati when adding eggs to the lunch menu. Egg here serves as a source of exclusive protein, unlike chick peas or lentils which have to be counted not only as a source of protein but as also having carbohydrates.
Here is a list of Indian gestational diabetes food items that equals 15 gram of carbohydrates. Please refer meal plan above for the amount of carbohydrates allowed for each meal/snack (if eating packaged items refer nutrition label for exact amount of carbohydrates). The quantities given below are approximate values and the effect on glucose levels might vary for different persons.
Milk 1 cup (236 ml)
Kadi 1 cup
Lassi 1 cup
Yogurt 3/4 cup
Paneer 4 small cubes
Buttermilk 1 cup
Breads/Pasta/Rice (The quantities shown is for cooked food only)
Roti/Chapathi 1, (7 “diameter)
Naan ¼, (8”X2”)
Paratha 1nos, (6 “diameter)
Phulka (thin) 3nos, (6 “diameter)
Rice ½ cup cooked
Khichiri/Upma ½ cup
Potatoes ½ cup
Peas ½ cup
Popcorn (no fat) 3 cups
Bhakri rice 1 thick (4” diameter)
Jowar 1 thick (4” diameter)
Bajra 1 thick (4” diameter)
Poha ½ cup
Sabudhana ½ cup
Pita bread ½, (6” diameter)
Tortilla 1, (6” diameter)
Whole Wheat Bread 2 slices
Cereals ¾ cup
Pasta 1/3 cup
Kurnura/Pori/Rice puffs 2 cups
Marie Biscuits 4-5
Chicken 3 oz
Lamb 3 oz
Seafood 3 oz
Peanut Butter 1 tablespoon
Dried Peas ½ cup
Cheese (made in pasteurized milk) 1 oz
Moong ½ cup
Masur ½ cup
Tuar ½ cup
Urad ½ cup
Yellow Dhokla 4 pieces (no vaghar)
Yellow Dhokla 1 piece 2”X2”
Whole pulses 1 cup (usala, chowli, rajmah, matki, green watana, white watana)
Peanuts 10 nuts
Almonds 6 nuts
Cashews 3 nuts
Small Yellow or Green Banana 1
Small Mango ½
Small Papaya ½
Cantaloupe 1 cup cubes
Watermelon 1 ¼ cup
Small Grapes 17
Pineapple ½ cup
Small Orange 1
Small Plum 1
Raisins 2 table spoons
Figs 1 ½ large or 2 medium
Fruit Juice ¼ cup
Small Chikoo 1
Small Pear 1
Small Apple 1
Non - starchy vegetables listed below can be had as much as you want provided they are simply boiled and garnished. Adding flour or any starch to the vegies will limit the amount you can consume.
Other leafy vegetables
Fats, Oils - Will add calories use only in very small amounts.
Oil 1 table spoon
Tip: In any food item, take a look at the “Nutrition Facts” label; if the Dietary Fiber is more than 5 grams then you can subtract every excess gram from the carbohydrates value.
In the above figure the total carbohydrate is 8g and dietary fiber is 5g. You can subtract any dietary fiber content greater than 5g from carbohydrates. So if it is your breakfast, and you are having this bread you are supposed to have only 30 grams. Since it has high fiber (>5 g) you can afford to have a little bt more of the same bread.
Tip : If you eat more vegetables and proteins you might escape eating just a little bit more carbohydrates. Remember to drink a lot of water.
Tip : Burn calories by regularly going for slow walks.
Tip : Avoid stress and anxiety. Relax meditate and join a prenatal yoga class.
But there sure is light at the end of the tunnel, my wife gained a total of 11kgs (24 pounds) during her term, 9 kgs before being diagnosed and 2 kgs after.Today she thanks gestational diabetes for helping her keep her weight gain in check.
And a note for the Would-be-Dad’s, your wife is going through a lot and she needs your support, love and motivation to take her through another 15 weeks.