For controlling gestational diabetes, an easy meal plan is mandatory. In fact, a complete diet plan is the first line of defense against any form of diabetes including gestational one. However, it is important to have a diet plan that is practically implementable.

Selecting the ideal menu for the meals of a patient with gestational diabetes is not easy at first. Because most of the people find it confusing.

Gestational diabetes meals mean eating healthy food timely and in a limited amount. American Diabetes Association recommends three timely meals and two light snacks in between them.

In general, a gestational diabetes diet is a healthy meal, containing high nutrition and minerals with low carbohydrate, fat, and protein. Learn more about diabetes.

What is gestational diabetes?

Diabetes that occurs during pregnancy is called gestational diabetes mellitus. Therefore, you cannot get gestational diabetes unless you are pregnant.

Pregnant women experience hormonal changes in the body. As a consequence, gain weight and develop insulin resistance. As a result, for some women, insulin cannot lower blood sugar levels effectively. Consequently, the level of sugar in the blood rises and develops diabetes during pregnancy.

It generally occurs during the mid or late stages of pregnancy. Fortunately, this type of diabetes resolves after delivery of the baby. However, women with gestational diabetes are more prone to develop diabetes in the future.

What are the symptoms of gestational diabetes?

Usually, women with gestational diabetes may not notice any symptoms. Most of the times diagnosis occurs during routine visits to the doctor. However, few abnormalities might appear. such as:

  • Feeling more thirsty
  • Feeling more hunger and weakness
  • May have to pee more often

Why an easy gestational diabetes meal plan is important?

Around 50% of women who suffered gestational diabetes may develop type 2 diabetes later in their life, says International Diabetes Federation.

Furthermore, diabetes during pregnancy increases the risk of high blood pressure, obstructed labor and other related complications.

The baby even faces a higher risk than the mother. Gestational diabetes causes abnormal weight gain to the unborn baby. It not only creates breathing difficulty during birth but also increases the rate of obesity and risk of diabetes later in the future.

The mother may need a cesarean section more often due to a large baby. Damages to eyes, kidneys, and nerves also happen in this period.

Hence a healthy and easy gestational diabetes meal plan is necessary. Moreover, to control blood sugar, one must have to control what she eats and drinks.

Other than that, taking healthy meals and doing regular physical activities significantly reduce the chance of diabetes-related complications.

  • To keep sugar level, blood pressure level and cholesterol level in the normal range
  • Delays or prevents diabetes-related complications
  • To lose weight which surely will elevate living standards
  • Decreases chance of other gut-related illness
  • Leads to feeling good and more energetic

It should be followed by all the women irrespective of diabetic or non-diabetic. Since, if anyone follows a healthy diet and does regular exercise diabetes will not happen in the first place.

What not to add in a gestational diabetes meal plan?

Most of the foods we eat can raise blood sugar. It does not mean that we should avoid all of them.

Beverage drinks, processed food, highly sugary food always should avoid, whether one has diabetes or not. However, if anyone develops gestational diabetes, she must have to abstain from taking certain foods.

  • Added sugar and added salt (Total restriction)
  • Vegetables that grow underground, for instance, taro, potato, carrot, radish, turnip, kohlrabi, etc.
  • Evidence shows that pumpkin also can harm a diabetic patient
  • Trans fat has no known health benefit. It increases the level of LDH (low-density lipoprotein) known as bad cholesterol, whereas, lowers HDL (high-density lipoprotein) level which is known as good cholesterol.
  • Fatty food such as beef, Mutton, brain, liver, coconut, egg yolk, etc. should be limited
  • one can enjoy most of the fruits during gestational diabetes in a limited amount except pineapples and papayas. However, it is not because of diabetes but they may harm the baby and cause miscarriage.

Carbohydrates in a gestational diabetes meal plan

Carbs are necessary for body’s normal function. However, less than half of your calories should come from carbohydrates.

  • Avoid simple carbohydrates, for example, potatoes, white rice, candy, soda, and other sweets. They cause an immediate rise in blood sugar after eating.
  • Eat more high-fiber and whole-grain carbs. These are complex carbohydrates and beneficial during pregnancy.
  • Vegetables are healthy and packed with nutrition and vitamins. Enjoy as much as you like.
  • Make sure you are using whole-wheat or whole-grain flour in cocking. Low-fat bread such as tortillas, English muffins, and pita bread are perfect for a gestational diabetes meal plan.
  • If your main food is rice, try brown rice or wild rice during the gestational period.

Proteins in a gestational diabetes diet plan

Meat, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts are the main sources of proteins. American National Library recommends 2 to 3 servings of protein-rich foods in a day.

  • Eat more fish instead of meat.
  • Remove the skin of chicken and turkey before cooking or grilling.
  • Trim as much as fat from the meat. Cock, roast, grill or boil instead of frying.
  • These are rich in proteins, vitamin B, iron, and zinc.

Fats in a gestational diabetes diet plan

In general, fatty foods should be limited at any stage. Nevertheless, there is healthy fat out there, which is crucial for maintaining a gestational diabetes meal plan.

  • Don’t cut fatty foods completely. Fats are essential for the growth and development of the baby and the baby’s brain.
  • Make sure using healthy oil such as olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, and canola oil.
  • Include nuts, avocadoes, and olive in your diet.
  • Go smoothy on margarine, and cooking oil.
  • Strictly avoid trans fat such as cheese, hamburger, bacon, and butter.

Your easy gestational diabetes meal plan

The most important issue about diet in diabetes is not what you eat, it is how and when you eat. Moreover, maintaining a fixed time every day is crucial. Otherwise, it is impossible to control blood sugar levels.

Another must follow the rule for a diabetic patient, is never go empty stomach for a long time. Even if you have to, make sure you adjust your medications with the help of your doctor. Because there is a chance that you might lose so much sugar and become hypoglycemic, a life-threatening condition by doing so.

Here are some easy meal and snack ideas for gestational diabetes which are rich in nutrition.

Breakfast (7-8 am)

  • Whole wheat bread (1-2 slice)
  • 1-ounce ready-to-eat cereal (28 gm)
  • Leafy green vegetables- as much as you like
  • Egg- excluding yolk
  • Tea or coffee ( without sugar)

Snacks 1 (10-11 am)

  • 1 English muffin
  • Medium-sized fruit 1 piece
  • 1 cup of chopped or cooked leafy vegetables

Lunch (2-3 Pm)

  • 1/2-1 cup of brown rice or pasta
  • 1 cup (340 gm) green leafy vegetables
  • Fish or Meat- 2 slice
  • Legumes/vegetable soup- 3/4 cup

Snacks 2 (5-6 pm)

  • 1/2 cup cooked beans
  • Milk or sugar-free yogurt 1 cup
  • Whole fruit rather than juice- 1 piece

Dinner (7:30- 8:30 pm)

  • Whole wheat bread or English muffin 1 piece
  • Green vegetables- as much as you like
  • Fish or Meat- 2 slice
  • Milk 1 cup

Food habits can vary from region to region. Anyone can learn the best meal plan within one week by maintaining gestational diabetes recipes and regular blood sugar monitoring. This would give insight into how and what to eat.

List of foods to add with your gestational diabetes meal plan

Some foods are encouraged to take for their health benefits. These foods not only help to control blood sugar levels but also reduces the risk of complications.

  • Fish: Along with providing adequate-protein, many easily available fishes such as salmon, tuna contain Omega 3 fatty acids. These chemical particles are renowned to reduce heart disease. Therefore, these fishes are special during gestational diabetes to maintain heart health.
  • Green leafy vegetables: fresh green vegetables such as spinach, kale will provide you with carbohydrates as well as plenty of vitamins and minerals. They also contain antioxidants, which will protect you from blindness.
  • Whole grains and fibers: try different types of legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils. They still have carbs but they will help you lower the amount of taking carbs.
  • Greek yogurt: not only provide you with adequate protein but also will lower the bad cholesterol level.
  • Eggs: eggs are one of the finest balanced food. It also helps you to remain nourished for hours. Furthermore, eggs improve insulin sensitivity and increase good cholesterol levels whereas decrease bad cholesterol.

What else to deal with a gestational diabetes meal plan?

In addition to following a gestational diabetes meal plan, you must stick with some form of physical activity.

Just walking for 30 minutes at medium speed, in a day, 5 days a week can significantly improve your health condition.

Several studies found that walking during pregnancy at a moderate pace significantly reduces the risk of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and excessive gestational weight gain.

A recent meta-analysis published by shanghai university of sport reveals, pregnant women who were engaged in walking during early to mid-pregnancy, have 20% less risk of developing gestational diabetes.

Another study shows that glucose concentration was 4-21% lower after 25-40 minutes of low intensity walking during this period.

Apart from that, doing meditation during pregnancy is proven to be helpful. Along with refreshing your mind, it will increase oxygen and blood supply to the body. These are the most important elements for a healthy mother and baby.

Prenatal visits to doctors are vital. It will ensure your safe pregnancy and delivery. World health organization recommends at least four prenatal visits. The visits start after 4 weeks of pregnancy. It continues throughout the gestational period.

Without maintaining a proper diet and regular physical activities, it is impossible to control blood sugar levels only by medications.

Few last words

Medications are the last choice to treat diabetes. In many cases, patients are able to keep blood sugar levels in the optimum range, just by doing physical exercise and taking a healthy diet. Therefore, a practically implementable, simple and easy gestational diabetes meal plan is indeed necessary.

Categories: Health

Dr Mazharul Islam

Dr. Mazharul Islam acquired a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from Sylhet MAG Osmany Medical College and trained in internal medicine at Dhaka Medical College, Bangladesh. He is a practicing and motivated Medical doctor. He is exclusively working to eliminate superstitious belief from the society

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