Gestational Diabetes generally diagnosed at the beginning of the second semester is a condition when pregnant women have an increased level of glucose in their blood. It is similar to Type 2 diabetes except that it resolves after child birth. However, around half of the women who develop Gestational Diabetes are likely to develop it later in life, according to some studies.
A healthy diet, exercise and regular monitoring of blood sugar level will suffice in most of the cases, with only few people requiring medication.
Gestational diabetes should be taken seriously and if untreated it can affect your baby's health and may result in premature birth or still birth. Shruti Bhardwaj, Senior Clinical Dietician, Narayana Hrudalaya Multi Speciality Hospital Ahmedabad talks about foods to eat and avoid during gestational diabetes.
There are certain women who are more at risk of getting gestational diabetes:
- One who is overweight or obese
- One who gains too much weight during pregnancy
- One who has diabetes in her family history
How the Diet for Women With Gestational Diabetes Is Determined
"As a dietician the first intervention is to determine weight gain goals of the pregnant women suffering from gestational diabetes and to calculate her energy needs. We should focus on the total calory requirement of the person after complete assessment depending on patient's BMI. Before pregnancy what is the patient's weight," says Bharadwaj.
Calorie requirement is determined by certain factors like:
- Energy requirement for foetal growth
- Increase in weight gain
- Age of the pregnant woman
- Pre-pregnancy weight
- Occupation - housewife or working
- Stage of pregnancy
Dietary Requirement In Pregnancy As Per ICMR
Calorie requirement of the person + additional 350 calories in second and third trimester
Foods To Eat in Gestational Diabetes
1. Complex Carbohydrates
In gestational diabetes, complex carbohydrates like whole-grain cereals, brown rice, whole wheat pasta should be preferred over simple carbs like bread, rice, potatoes, cookies etc. The carbohydrate servings on a whole should be according to the daily calorie requirement. Complex carbs ensure the blood sugar level in women with gestational diabetes do not increase.
- 2-3 carbohydrate servings are ideal.
- Carbs should be distributes equally among all meals from breakfast to dinner
- Less than half the calories should come from carbohydrates
2. Green vegetables
Green vegetables are high on fibre and full of vitamins that are essential in pregnancy. The high fibre ensures the sugar level is maintained and also that constipation is taken care of.
A mix of raw and cooked green leafy vegetables like spinach, beans, cucumber, broccoli, carrot, vegetable juices should be consumed.
3. Soluble Fibre
These foods not only help control blood sugar level but are loaded with good bacteria and promote bowel movement. Apple, Guava, Avocado, Flaxeeds, carrots etc are the examples of food with soluble fibre.
These are good snacking options also. Instead of snacks loaded with sugar and salt, the ones with soluble fibre will keep you full and healthy.
Indians are believed to consume low proteins compared to many other countries. Depending on the body weight, 1gm per kg per day is normal, in third trimester an additional 20-22 gm of protein should be added to support foetal growth.
Here's how you can take your protein:
- Bowl of dal in lunch and dinner
- Low fat milk
- Meat, fish, beans, eggs, nuts
- 30-40% of your total calorie requirement should come from protein.
5. Dry Fruits & Nuts
They are good as a snacking option and are rich in nutrients.Here's what's recommended for a gestational diabetic patient:
- 8-10 almonds
- 2-3 walnuts
Foods To Avoid During Gestational Diabetes
1. Packaged Products With High Sugar
While eating frequent and small meals are advised in pregnancy, packaged snacks loaded with sugar and salt must be avoided at all costs. The high sugar content will raise the level of blood glucose and can harm the development of the baby.
Sweets, cake, pudding, juice, chips, pizza, junk food should be avoided and replaced with healthy snacks as listed above.
2. Fruit Juices
Fruit juices lose out on fibre content and a whole fruit should be preferred anyday. A whole fruit has a good amount of soluble fibre which also helps in bowel movement as well as get the body all the essential vitamins and minerals.
Constipation can be a major issue in pregnancy and fruit juices will not help with that.
3. Dates and Raisins
Dates and Raisins both have high GI so they must be avoided during pregnancy. Instead handful of mixed nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachios, fox nuts will be a good option.
4. Trans Fatty Acids
- The consumption of saturated and trans fatty acids beyond a limit can be harmful especially during gestational diabetes. This includes all the fried food items (outside ones), because they are fried in re-used oil.
- The consumption of oil should be around 3-4 tea spoons ideally and the same can be determined by dividing the oil consumed during a month with the number of members.
- Avoid Dalda oil and use soyabean, groundnut, olive oil, mustard oil in rotation.
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