foods to avoid during gestational diabetes

Follow these workable diet tips to manage gestational diabetes

Pregnancy is a beautiful journey for women all over the world, but it comes with its own share of complications. Gestational diabetes is one of them. And if not managed and treated, it can turn into something more serious for the mother as well as the baby. Read on to learn all about gestational diabetes.

What is gestational diabetes mellitus?

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is a condition of Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT), which is diagnosed during pregnancy. This is basically a condition in which the blood glucose level is higher than normal. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after you give birth.

Additionally, women who are diagnosed with GDM have a higher probability of developing Type 2 diabetes later. However, with timely treatment and by following a proper diet, GDM can be managed quite well, to keep you and your baby healthy.

How to control diabetes during pregnancy?

Women suffering from GDM should ideally undergo Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) and insulin therapy/ metformin therapy. GDM can be initially managed with MNT and exercise. However, if it cannot be controlled this way, metformin or insulin therapy is administered.

Following MNT means consuming balanced meals with moderate amounts of carbohydrates, to ensure optimal nutrition for the mother and the foetus. Such meals also provide adequate energy, so that you gain the right weight for pregnancy and your glucose levels are regulated.

Diet to prevent gestational diabetes during pregnancy

In case of GDM, the dietary plan should be personalized with the help of a nutritionist who specializes in diabetes, so that you get accurate knowledge about your nutritional status. This evaluation is based on several factors, like your body mass index (BMI) and the pattern of weight gain during pregnancy.

ICMR guidelines recommend that you consume an additional 350 Kcal/ day, above the normal adult requirement, for gaining 10-12 kg on average, during the second and third trimester. However, this is a general recommendation for all pregnant women.

Women suffering from GDM should watch the calories they consume. Low-calorie diets can adversely impact foetal growth, apart from causing ketonemia and ketonuria, a condition where excess ketone bodies are present in the urine. However, moderate calorie intake might improve glycaemic control and limit the excessive gain in weight.

Selecting carbohydrates for women suffering from GDM

Carbohydrates are an essential component of a healthy diet, for both the mother and the baby. After digestion, carbohydrates are broken down to glucose, which gets mixed in the bloodstream. The type and amount of carbohydrates ingested have a major influence on blood sugar levels.

Some tips to select carbohydrates for women with GDM:

  • Some of the high-carbohydrate foods include cereals and products derived from them (ragi, corn, rice, sooji, refined flour, breads, pasta, noodles etc.), pulses, starchy vegetables (potato, sweet potato, corn tapioca etc.), fruits, sweets, juices etc. These should be included in the diet of a woman suffering from gestational diabetes.
  • Carbohydrate-rich foods should not be consumed excessively in one sitting, as they can result in high blood sugar level.
  • Try to evenly distribute carbohydrates over 3 small meals and 2 to 3 snacks per day, rather than taking 3 large meals.
  • Choose complex carbohydrates like whole-grain cereals over simple carbohydrates like foods with added sugar or honey, or foods prepared from refined white flour.
  • Monitor the amount of carbohydrates you consume daily. Your target should be 2 to 3 carbohydrate servings per meal and 1 to 2 carbohydrate servings per snack (23 g/day).

Selecting the right fats

Pregnant women should limit their fat intake. Saturated fat intake should be less than 10% of the total number of calories you consume. And dietary cholesterol consumption should be less than 300 mg/dL.

Tips to eliminate bad fats from your diet

  • Avoid fried food and use less oil or fat for cooking
  • Consume low-fat dairy products
  • Choose low-fat snacks (e.g. fresh fruits, salads, and baked items)
  • Pick lean meat

General diet suggestions

  • During pregnancy, women require extra protein, around 23g/day, to support foetal growth. High-protein sources are milk and milk products, egg, fish, chicken, pulses (dal), nuts, etc.
  • GDM positive mothers should follow a mixed diet containing adequate amounts of carbohydrate, protein, fat, and fibre. When all of these are eaten together, it results in slow rise of blood sugar level.
  • It is also a good practice for a pregnant woman to have a healthy breakfast every day. And, you should never skip your breakfast. A well-balanced healthy breakfast comprises 1-2 carbohydrate servings (like chapati/dalia/sandwich/poha/idli, etc.) and protein-rich foods (milk/curd/paneer/egg etc.)
  • For lunch or dinner, try to divide your plate into equal portions - the first portion is for vegetables like bottle gourd, lettuce, broccoli, spinach, carrots, green beans, tomatoes, celery, cabbage, mushrooms etc. You will get enough fibre from these, which will help control post prandial sugar level.
  • The second portion should be divided into two equal parts. Include protein-rich foods like dal, fish, paneer, chicken, and egg in the first part, and the second half should have chapatti, brown rice, cereals, etc.
  • Also try to include at least 1 serving of yoghurt or milk and 1 serving of fresh fruits.
  • Avoid taking heavy meals and limit carbohydrate intake.
  • Never skip any meal and do not take meals at irregular times.
  • Along with all the major meals, also include mid-day snacks like murmura chaat, sprouts, vegetable dalia, vegetable poha, idli, vegetable uttapam, besan chilla
  • Do not forget to maintain a gap of at least 2-3 hours between major meals and mid-day snacks.
  • Go for boiled, steamed, or sautéed food instead of food that has been deep-fried or shallow-fried.
  • Choose whole fruits over juices as whole fruits contain more fibre.
  • Include high-fibre foods like salad, beans, non-starchy vegetables, whole fruits, whole-grain cereals/millets, and whole pulses in your diet.
  • Drink lots of fluids including water, buttermilk, soups, soy milk, and other healthy beverages.