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A Complete Guide to Gestational Diabetes Diet | Foods to Include & Meals Plans

pregnancy foods to eat

Pregnancy is complicated in itself. However, certain medical conditions, such as gestational diabetes, make it even more complicated.

Your Gestational Diabetes Diet is different from a normal diet. Gestational Diabetes is pregnancy-specific diabetes, in which your blood glucose levels raise significantly in the first or second trimesters and move down to safer levels once you have delivered the child.

The good news is that gestational diabetes isn’t here to stay, and in most cases, it’s manageable without requiring medication or insulin injections.

Unfortunately, the only way to manage this diabetes is through your diet.

To ensure your blood glucose levels do not affect your fetus or your cardiovascular health, it’s important that you keep them in check throughout your pregnancy.

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes and are wondering what might impact your blood glucose levels, you are not alone. First things first, there’s nothing to worry about.

Gestational diabetes can be managed with dietary and lifestyle changes. And it doesn’t mean you won’t have a healthy pregnancy.

In this post, we will walk you through a list of the foods to eat during gestational diabetes and some healthy eating tips.

But before that, let’s take a look at the meaning of gestational diabetes and its symptoms.

Table of Contents

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes only occurs in pregnant women. It produces the same symptoms as normal diabetes, except that gestational diabetes is common in pregnant ladies.

As mentioned earlier, gestational diabetes refers to the high glucose levels that are first diagnosed during pregnancy.

Although the factors that cause gestational diabetes are unknown, experts believe that it’s mostly caused by hormonal changes that affect the way insulin works.

Insulin uses glucose for energy and transfers it to your cells and tissues through the bloodstream.

If the insulin level drops or its production is halted completely, the glucose in your bloodstream will raise drastically.

As a result, you will need insulin doses or medication to bring the glucose levels down to what’s considered normal.

Your insulin levels change automatically during pregnancy, as you need to provide your child with glucose for growth. As a response to that, your body might stop producing insulin, or it won’t respond to the insulin well.

Let’s discover the ideal gestational diabetes meals, fruits, and other healthy foods.

Safe Foods for Gestational Diabetes

While diet plans for pregnancies with gestational diabetes differ for every woman, a few tips remain the same.

  • You should eat sufficient protein in all meals combined.
  • Add healthy fruits and vegetables to your diet.
  • Do not eat processed foods, raw meat, or foods rich in saturated fats.
  • Keep your portion sizes small so that you don’t end up overeating.

Women diagnosed with gestational diabetes must pay special attention to their diet, which can drastically raise their blood glucose levels.

It’s natural to get carb cravings during pregnancy, but make sure you eat good, complex carbs to manage your glucose levels.

It’s better to seek a dietician’s help if you are having trouble managing your glucose levels. They will prepare a diet chart for you.

They will also help you add snacks and meals that satisfy your cravings while keeping you and your baby safe.

Eat Fruits

There’s a common misconception that fruits are unsafe for pregnant women diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

While certain foods are unsafe for all pregnancies, you don’t have to avoid fruits altogether. Just make sure you eat them in moderation.

It’s important to monitor carbs in fruits so that you don’t eat something that drastically increases your carb levels.

Talk to a dietician to figure out the ideal daily carb intake. Try to add fruits like berries. They are low in sugar and rich in fiber, making them the best food for gestational diabetes.

Add them to yogurt or your favorite sweet dish if you can’t eat berries alone.

Lean Proteins

A healthy pregnancy diet includes lots of lean proteins that keep your baby healthy and full for longer, thus helping women with gestational diabetes.

A few foods rich in protein are fish, chicken, eggs, and turkey. You should eat proteins for breakfast, as that will help keep your hunger levels normal throughout the day.

It may help you with morning sickness. Ask your dietician about the recommended protein levels for the day.

Healthy Fats

Fat-rich foods are low in nutritional value and high in calories, which makes your diabetes harder to manage.

While you need some fat to absorb vitamins and minerals from your food, you should switch to unsaturated fats, as they are healthier and safer.

Try to add more nuts and beans to your diet. They are packed with unsaturated fats. Omega-3 fatty acids found in different varieties of fish are also pretty healthy.

Complex Carbs

Whole grain, high-fiber carbs are healthy for pregnant women diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

If you crave carbohydrates, make a smart and healthy choice by switching to complex carbs.

Simply put, you should replace soda, white rice, and candy with beans, brown rice, yogurt, berries, and sweet potatoes.

Unsweetened dairy products also provide you with healthy carbs, fulfilling your carb cravings without increasing your blood glucose levels.

However, all foods rich in carbs (good or bad) will affect your blood glucose to some extent, which is why it’s advisable to limit your carb portion. Eat healthy carbs in moderation.

Eat Healthy Snacks

The best gestational diabetes snacks include low-sugar yogurt, fruits, and vegetables, unsalted nuts, etc.

Then again, when you are craving snacks, be extra careful about your portion sizes.

Eating too much of them can raise your blood glucose levels significantly and make gestational diabetes unmanageable without medication.

If you are still confused about snacks that don’t affect your diabetes and satisfy your evening food cravings, you should try walnuts, almonds, and peanuts.

These foods are low in carbs and are rich in fiber and healthy fats, making them perfect for your heart and baby’s health.

Eat More Fish

Fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, the most crucial food for gestational diabetes and pregnancies in general.

They are healthy for your baby’s growth. You should set the goal of eating two portions of fish every week.

One portion of oily fish should be enough for pregnant ladies. It’s approx 140 grams and includes mackerel, salmon, sardine, and trout.

While picking fish, make sure you avoid those rich in mercury. It’s a dangerous element found in polluted water and can be harmful to your and the baby’s health. Examples include sharks, swordfish, and marlins.

Healthy Tips for Preparing Gestational Diabetes Meal Plan

Be Aware of Glycemic Index

Glycemic index levels show the effect of carbs on your blood glucose levels after consumption.

Certain types of foods have a high Glycemic Index, meaning they are unsafe for pregnant women with gestational diabetes. It’s important to monitor the GI of all carb-rich foods before eating.

Seek the help of a dietician to monitor your carb intake and add foods low in GI to your diet.

Remember, your portion size, as well as the total carbs in your food, have a significant impact on your glucose levels. Then again, not all foods low in GI are good for your health.

So, it’s important to read the labels before buying.

Your Weight Matters

Your doctor will advise you to gain a few pounds to ensure a healthy pregnancy. They might recommend certain supplements, too.

However, women with gestational diabetes must monitor their weight regularly.

Gaining too much weight in too little time can raise your blood pressure and might negatively affect your heart health.

Managing weight will avoid these problems and keep your blood glucose levels in control.

This isn’t just for your pregnancy, but managing a healthy weight after the pregnancy is key to a healthy lifestyle.

There’s also a lower risk of developing gestational diabetes in future pregnancies when you have a normal weight. Moreover, keeping your weight in control will prevent the risk of type 2 diabetes in the future.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can lead to constipation, which is the most common health issue in pregnant women. That can be more frustrating for women with gestational diabetes.

Pregnant women must drink 64-96 ounces of water daily to flush the toxins out faster and keep their babies healthy. It promotes smoother circulation of essential nutrients throughout your body.

Avoid cold drinks, sodas, and beverages. You should replace them with water. Alcohol is a big no during pregnancy, especially if you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Bottom Line

Pregnancies with gestational diabetes fall into the “high-risk pregnancy” category, but that shouldn’t concern you if you have a healthy diet.

Ideally, a pregnancy diet should be low in Glycemic Index, high in fiber and unsaturated fats, and have good, complex carbs.

The ideal gestational diabetes breakfast includes proteins, vegetables, and healthy fruits. To learn more about healthy vs. unhealthy food for gestational diabetes, talk to your dietician.

They will help you establish an ideal weight management and dietary plan for pregnancy.

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