So you’ve been one of the millions of pregnant women who have unfortunately been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Now what’s next? Your doctor (should have) probably told you that you should see a diabetic nutritionist to build a plan that is going to battle the ailment and bring your blood-sugar levels down to a healthy amount. If you are going to do in on your own instead, you are probably here to find what type of diet plan you should follow and what foods you should consume. Well don’t worry because I am here to assist you!
The diet for gestational diabetes focuses mainly on controlling carbohydrate intake, which is a key ingredient that affects a person’s blood sugar levels. It may seem like carbs are the enemy here, which they can be, but they are also the cure of this type of diabetes as well. The carbohydrates we aim to consume are the complex ones, with high fiber ones being the best. We will focus on eating a steady and healthy amount of these complex carbohydrates daily, which should be around 15g each serving and a total of around 12 servings a day (spread evenly throughout). Let’s begin with a general structure of the plan and then move on to specific foods you should eat and foods you should avoid.
Gestational Diabetes Diet Guidelines:
It is recommended that you eat three moderate meals a day of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as one snack in between each meal. This will keep a steady nutrient intake which will ultimately help stabilize blood glucose levels. Here is a general guide of the nutrients you should be consuming within these meals.
- Balance is key in battling gestational diabetes, and slightly limiting carbohydrate intake is a must. Instead of simple carbs, make use of your whole carbohydrate intake with complex ones that also include fiber (see table below for a list of complex carbs).
- Lean protein is a great way to reduce blood sugar and it enables you to fill your stomach faster. Look for lean protein rich foods that will give you more energy to last throughout the day.
- Fruits and Vegetables are an absolute must. You all know how healthy vegetables and how much they help prevent and reduce a cornucopia of ailments, gestational diabetes being no exception. Do not go crazy with fruits however as they do contain natural sugar, so just keep monitoring your levels just in case.
- Avoid sugary drinks at all costs. This will spike your blood sugar levels almost instantly. You should never drink soda or fruit juices as these are the most common culprits of high glucose. Focus on drinking the recommended eight glasses of water daily instead (NOT flavored water).
- Avoid any candy or desserts. This might be obvious but it still must be said. Sorry but if you want any chance of beating gestational diabetes you have to cut the sweets.
- Limit your milk intake. Milk includes a high amount of lactose which is broken down into glucose and galactose (simple sugar basically). You can get your daily calcium from beans, peas, legumes, and almonds instead.
As you see, there are many guidelines you should be following and having a nutritionist is ideal to get a custom made diet plan tailored to your body’s physical needs. I strongly recommend you be in contact with your doctor at the very least and monitor your blood sugar levels so that they don’t spike to a dangerous level. Since carbohydrates are an important part of the diet, here is a list of the carbs you should be eating and the ones you should be avoiding:
|Complex Carbs to Eat||Simple Carbs to Avoid|
|Legumes and Beans||Candy|
|Whole Wheat and Whole Grains (Cereals, breads , oats)||Fruit drinks (Including juices)|
|Pasta (Preferably whole wheat)||Canned fruits|
|Green Leafy Vegetables (Broccoli, kale, cabbage)||Corn syrup (Avoid this ingredient)|
|Starchy Vegetables ( Potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, green peas)||Honey|
|Fresh Fruits (Apples, bananas, figs)||Desserts (Cakes, ice cream)|
|Brown Rice or Wild Rice||Soft drinks|
Now that you’ve seen which carbohydrates you should be consuming and which you should be avoiding, you should be able to adjust your eating habits respectively. As a more general meal plan, these are the foods and portions you want to be focusing on daily:
Fruits: 3 servings daily
- All berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries)
Vegetables : 4 servings daily
- Bok Choy
- Romaine lettuce
Protein : 2 servings daily
- Lean meat
The rest of your servings (around 12 daily) should come from the carbohydrates listed above. You may have a couple of servings of some low fat dairy daily but keep it to a minimum. As for simple sugars such as sweets and sugary drinks, I would try and avoid them completely. If you are unable to, keep it to a bare minimum and only consume 3 times a week. You really want to avoid these refined sugars as they are the bane of a diabetic.
Where to find Gestational Diabetes Recipes
If you are looking for specific recipes to cook, you will be happy to hear that there are a lot of very flavorful ones available out there. A lemon thyme roasted chicken or pesto chicken with whole wheat fettuccine pasta will be sure to light up your taste buds. There are not too many places that actually offer gestational diabetes recipes out there, however I will update this very soon when I come across a great one that does not misinform you.
All in all, you should not be terrified if you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. It is an ailment that can easily be defeated and it does not have to ruin your pregnancy. If you have any concerns or questions about what foods are safe to eat, you can leave me a comment and I`ll surely assist you.