Gestational Diabetes Diet is the special diet formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of a pregnant woman who has developed clinical Diabetes during the course of her pregnancy. As such, pregnancy is a very delicate period in the life of a female, governed by hormonal imbalances and if any untoward complications arise, it becomes even more of an emotional burden to deal with. However, it is very essential for the female to remain as stress free as possible to ensure a normal and smooth delivery. When the developing foetus is exposed to the mother’s elevated blood glucose (not brought under control by her insulin), chances are that the premature pancreas is stimulated to produce more and more insulin to offset the high sugars, resulting in what is known as a ‘macrosomic’ (large) baby, increasing the risk of premature delivery. Other adverse delivery outcomes may also be possible. The Gestational Diabetic diet, in concurrence with prescribed medications, assists in normalizing blood glucose levels so that the foetus is unaffected and continues its normal process of growth.
Laws Governing Gestational Diabetic Diet
Diet, during Gestational Diabetes, is a significant tool that can be used to bring the elevated blood sugars under control. In fact dietary management is the first line of treatment unless blood sugars are extremely high.
- Carbohydrates, being high in sugar and starch, have the maximum impact on blood glucose levels as they are disintegrated to simple sugars on digestion. Therefore it is important to control the amount and type of carbohydrates consumed. Intake of simple sugars is to be strictly avoided. Complex carbohydrates in limited quantities are permitted. Fibre-rich foods such as whole grain cereals, legumes, beans, vegetables and certain fruits are digested and absorbed into the blood stream slower than simple sugars and do not elevate blood sugars as much.
- Protein is vital to the growing foetus. In fact protein must be consumed in combination with carbohydrates in order to slow down the rate of carbohydrate release into the blood stream. Lean protein intake in the form of poultry, fish, egg whites and soy can not only meet the daily protein requirements but also leave the woman more satiated, sustaining her energy levels, and providing better sugar control.
- Fat intake must be restricted to a minimum by avoiding fried fatty foods as excess weight gain must be prevented. Essential fats such as omega-3 fatty acids need to be supplied either through diet or supplements.
- It is important to not skip or miss any meals. The recommendation is to have 3 small meals interspersed with 2-3 snacks at fixed times each day. The amounts consumed should be limited and possibly uniform to avoid unnecessary spikes in sugar levels.
- Beginning the day with a high protein breakfast such as egg whites, cheese, sprouts, nuts etc., is advisable. After an overnight fast, it is best to limit carbohydrates such as cereals, breads, oats and totally avoid fruits and juices to maintain blood sugar levels within limits.
- Variety in the diet would help in obtaining all essential nutrients. Distributing calorie intake evenly throughout the day is another factor that must be borne in mind.
- At least 64 ounces of water must be consumed per day, to avoid any constipation. Consumption of colas and other sweetened beverages is disallowed. Plain soda with lemon juice, or decaffeinated, unsweetened iced tea or green tea is allowed.
- In order to obtain at least 1200 mg of Calcium per day, at least 4 servings of dairy and calcium-rich foods must be included in the diet.
- To obtain at least 30 mg of iron per day, consumption of iron-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, lean meat, eggs and poultry are advised.
- Vitamin C intake is needed for iron absorption. Similarly Vitamin A and Folic acid intake is crucial.
- Avoiding alcohol consumption and limiting caffeine intake is advised.
Meal Plan- Gestational Diabetes Diet
Early morning- a glass full of milk without sugar, 2 Marie biscuits
Breakfast- ½ cup pasteurized juice, 2 slices whole grain toast with peanut butter.
Mid-morning snack- Fruit (apple, banana, pear), a cup full of cottage cheese
Lunch- Lentil soup, breads without butter, yogurt and whole grain crackers.
Post Lunch snack- 1 cup diced Carrots, 10 almonds, fruit
Dinner- Fish, steamed broccoli, brown rice, breads.
Benefits of Gestational Diabetic Diet
Following these dietary guidelines, the medical treatment advised, regularly monitoring blood sugars and engaging in moderate amounts of physical activity such as yoga and walking can help maintain the blood sugar levels within limits. Consequently the pregnant woman can enjoy a healthy pregnancy and an uncomplicated delivery.