When you are pregnant, your body naturally develops a resistance to insulin which frees up extra blood sugar for the developing baby. However, resistance to insulin is also the cause of diabetes. If the body cannot produce enough insulin to cover the deficit, a special type of diabetes specifically related to pregnancy forms, called gestational diabetes. This can complicate the pregnancy causing problems for the mother and baby.
When this type of diabetes forms, diet becomes even more important than in a normal pregnancy. Not only do you need to eat enough food and nutrients to nourish the baby and yourself, but you also need to follow a diet that helps to keep your blood sugar from becoming dangerously high. A gestational diabetes diet needs to walk a fine line between these two competing challenges.
The first thing to do is speak to your doctor. They will know your specific situation and needs, including whether you need to be prescribed insulin injections. Your doctor will also be able to give you recommendations for your diet, and you should always take their advice first. However, there are a few general guidelines for a gestational diabetes diet that may be able to help you.
The first thing to keep in mind is that your calories and carbs should be distributed as evenly as possible. Do not load up on calories during one meal, as this can lead to a dangerous blood sugar spike. Instead, try to eat smaller portions throughout the day, with plenty of nutrients as well. The American Diabetes Association’s guidelines suggest three smaller meals each day, with two to four snacks spaced out between them, including a snack after dinner. Try to eat a normal sized meal, and then if you are still hungry in an hour, have a snack. Spacing our your calories like this keeps your blood sugar regulated.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this goes double for diabetes patients. Blood sugar levels have time to drift overnight, so eating well in the morning is essential for getting them back to normal. It is often necessary to avoid high carb foods in the morning, opting for protein instead. If your blood sugar levels are off after breakfast, try reducing or eliminating bread, cereal, milk, and fruit. Instead, load up on eggs, cheese, and nuts. These foods will give you calories from protein and fat, which are easier to process for diabetics.
Sugary, sweet foods are dangerous for diabetics. Avoid sodas, fruit juices, and other sweetened drinks, as well as sweet desserts like ice creams and cakes. If you do indulge, limit your intake to a tiny amount. Simple sugars can very quickly elevate your blood sugar, which is dangerous.
Gestational diabetes typically ends after the baby is born, so you will only need to deal with it until then. It can be difficult to get enough calories and nutrients for you and the baby while also watching your blood sugar, but with careful planning it is possible.