How to beat gestational diabetes
Symptoms of gestational diabetes
Many women panic and assume that they have done something wrong during their pregnancy but in fact, it is a hormonal issue and it does not come from having diabetes before.
Research according to the American analysis from disease control and prevention has shown that 9.2% of pregnancies develop gestational diabetes and this leads to delivery complications and chances of C. sections and if not treated correctly, could lead to macrosomia or hypoglycaemia in babies.
The research also suggests that pregnant women who have gestational diabetes might develop stage 2 diabetes within 5 to 10 years after delivery and it might also cause baby to develop a glucose intolerance later on in life.
Gestational diabetes means that you have high blood sugar levels and this happens due to the placental hormones blocking the insulin to the mother making it difficult for her to use up the insulin. Without enough insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and turn into energy. Instead it builds up in the blood causing high blood sugar levels.
Insulin is produced in the pancreas and the job of this hormone is to regulate the body's fats and carbohydrates.
Symptoms of gestational diabetes are only found in late pregnancy after the baby's body has formed and mom to be is between weeks 24 and 28;
- If you feel thirsty all of the time
- frequent need to urinate
you might have gestational diabetes and your doctor will be able to tell as your baby will be rather large too but there are no other noticeable signs.
A urine sample is taken at each gynaecologist visit and this is to test for sugar and protein as well as being sent for a glucose test that could tell if you have gestational diabetes.
It is not the end of the world if you receive the news that you have gestational diabetes because it can be beaten by taking care of your health with exercise and healthy eating.
Most women who are overweight during pregnancy or have done no exercise are more prone to get it but it is not something that cannot happen to women who have not gained weight. Hormones cause many weird and strange things to happen to our bodies and the trick is to work through it in order to produce and protect a healthy baby.
There are many steps that you can follow to get your sugar levels down and if you do have gestational diabetes then NOW is the time to fix the problem before it gets out of hand.
Anyone can develop gestational diabetes but it is more common for a woman who has delivered a big baby in the past or if they have diabetes in the family genes as well as being overweight during pregnancy.
Another factor is age, yes we have to bring it up every time but women over 35 have more of a chance in developing gestational diabetes.
This does not mean that you need to panic and stress it simply means that you need to stop eating the garbage immediately and get yourself a healthy eating plan. This is a good idea for you and for the health of your baby because having gestational diabetes and not doing anything about it, will result in an unhealthy baby, complications at birth and a chance that you might develop type 2 diabetes in the future.
This would mean using insulin and injections!! So let's prevent that from happening and get on with becoming healthy.
Foods to Avoid with Gestational Diabetes
Naturally you need to avoid sugar and all products that contain sugar.
Sometimes pregnancy gives us the right to eat and enjoy whatever we want to but it does not mean that it is the healthy choice for you or for your baby.
Eating the right foods is necessary and you can have a treat every now and again but eating for two and eating treats throughout your pregnancy will take its toll on your body. The baby will suffer for it if you do not treat the problem quickly.
By now if you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes then stop all sugar intake and avoid fruit and fruit juice all together.
Monitor your intake of carbohydrates because this turns into glucose once it is digested. Although it is fuel for your body you do need to keep the levels normal.
Carbohydrates are found in most of the food that we eat;
milk and yoghurt
fruit and juices
rice, pasta, cereal, breads
potatoes, corn, squash, peas and lentils
sweets, desserts, pastries, honey, syrup and soda
You need to eat healthy carbohydrates and portions should be smaller than usual giving you three small meals a day with 3 small snacks in between.
Avoid cereals, fruit and milk for breakfast it might cause your levels to increase.
Do not skip meals
Avoid white flour, pasta and potatoes as well as ice cream, sweets and cake.
Avoid Cakes and Pastries
Healthy foods for gestational diabetes
Fibre in your diet can stabilise your sugar levels.
Whole grains, green leafy vegetables, bran and prunes are a good source of fibre.
Increase your protein intake with broccoli and spinach they are good sources of protein, high in iron and you can add lean meats to the menu with chicken and certain fish that do not contain mercury.
Stick to a diet of about 2000 calories and eat small portions throughout the day rather than pile on your plate and skip meals.
Eating smaller portions throughout the day will keep your insulin levels low and will not cause them to spike.
Eating 300 to 400 calories every three hours will give you five balanced meals that will not spike up your levels.
The healthiest food that you could eat and nourish your baby with is;
There are so many snacks to choose from and at this stage I would avoid fruit and fruit juice but you can have a banana, apple or a fruit of your choice once per day.
Everything that you do choose to eat should be eaten in moderation and smaller portions is the key.
Water, water, water!!! You need to drink 8 glasses per day
You cannot diet while you are in the middle of your pregnancy but changing to a healthier way of eating is a must do.
Do not eat heavy food late at night
Whole grain and low G.I bread is a better option than white bread
Pita bread can be found in whole wheat forms too
Instead of potato have sweet potato and avoid eating this late at night.
You have a choice of when to eat your carbohydrates and you should only choose two carbohydrates for the day.
If you choose to have bread for breakfast then you cannot have carbs for the rest of the day.
Keep your meats light and lean
Healthy Options for Gestational Diabetes
Exercise to lower sugar levels
If you have not exercised during your pregnancy then you need to consult your doctor before attempting any form of exercise now.
A light walk can do wonders for your health but at no time should you take strain or feel as though you are unable to breathe. This is harmful to your baby.
Light exercise even if you do two hours per week can decrease your risk of worsening gestational diabetes.
If you are able to do this then aim for 30 minutes of light exercise per day whether it is walking or swimming, this can help decrease your diabetes by almost 70%.
Have you had gestational diabetes and how did you manage it?
Diet for Gestational Diabetes
A healthy eating plan is important once you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and you need to start it immediately in order to avoid complications for you and baby before birth.
Drink 8 glasses of water per day this does wonders for you and it also flushes sugars out of your kidneys.
Six small meals per day will increase your metabolism as well as keep your body from having high sugar spikes.
2x scrambled eggs
1x sourdough rye or low G.I
1x teaspoon of butter
Mid morning Snack
1x tablespoon peanut butter
1x whole wheat bread
1 glass of milk
1 piece of grilled chicken
half an avocado
2 slices of tomato
100 grams of feta cheese
mid afternoon snack
50grams of nuts
plain unsweetened yoghurt
fish, green leafy vegetables and buckwheat
This is a rough idea of what you can have but the idea is to cut down on the bad sweets and sugars and replace them with healthier options.
Don't go on a drastic diet and avoid hectic exercise unless you have consulted your doctor first.
Keep your portions small and eat six times per day with a glass of water at each meal or snack time.
By keeping your portions small and eating healthier options you will definitely keep your sugar levels low and this will save you and your baby from an unpleasant hospital experience.
Keep monitoring your progress and if you have no idea what to eat then ask a dietician to help you but keep it simple and replace your sugar snacks with free foods.
Free foods and Healthy snacks that will keep you full
You can snack on this all day long but remember that you do have a little person in there and it can get crowded.
Make a Plan before you eat
It is really frustrating to find out that you have a condition and looking for ways to fix the problem might be hard to come by.
Here is a video with a few ideas on what to eat while you have gestational diabetes.
You should make a plan for the week so that you do not have to wake up and think about what to eat.
Buy your food for the week and prepare it so that you can just open the fridge and eat, especially when energy levels are low.
Meal Plan for gestational diabetes
Get Healthy and Beat Gestational Diabetes
- Avoid white breads, pastas and pastries
- Do not skip meals
- Have 6 small portions per day
- No fruit juice
- Drink 8 glasses of water
- Eat green leafy vegetables
- Exercise mildly and regularly
- Keep meats lean
- Snack on free foods instead of breads
- Say no to cake, soda, sweets and sugar
If you can ensure that you swop bad carbs for good and avoid sweets then you will beat diabetes and both you and your baby will be healthy.