Gestational diabetes also known as Gestational Diet Mellitus (GDM) is a condition in which a woman who normally doesn’t have sugar, gets diabetic during her pregnancy. This diabetic condition now occurs widely throughout the world, 5% of all pregnant women have gestational diabetes, and the mother has nothing to worry about her delivery or her child as long as she keeps the sugar levels under control. The sugar levels should be closely monitored to avoid complications during the delivery period.
A hormone called insulin is responsible for getting the glucose from the blood into the cells of your body. If you are diabetic, then your body is not producing as much insulin as is required, or your cells are not using it the way it should be used.
If the gestational diabetes is in the mild stage then it can be controlled purely through proper diet. In some cases where the diabetes is in a more progressed state you may have to take insulin to bring your blood sugar levels under control. Your physician will know what to do, and when a diet needs to be followed, he will draft out the diet taking into account your present eating habits making sure that you get all the necessary vitamins and nutrients.
- Eat a variety of foods and make sure that most of your calorie content comes from carbohydrates and foods that are rich in fiber.
- It is recommended by the American Diabetes Association to eat three small to moderate sized meals per day and two to four snacks every day. It is also advisable to have a bedtime snack just before you get into bed.
- Never skip meal. Your blood sugar level will be consistent if your meals and calories are distributed evenly throughout the day.
- Meals should be taken around the same time every day.
- Do not wait till you are burning with hunger to start eating. When you do eat like this, your blood sugar levels will rocket up.
- Restrict your intake of foods and juices that are rich in simple sugar like sodas, colas and fruit juices. These foods will quickly raise your sugar levels so limit their intake or if possible avoid them altogether. Instead of drinking fruit juices, you can eat fresh fruits which are also rich in fiber. Also, milk contains lactose which is a form of sugar. So if you drink more than two glasses of milk a day you may need to think for another source of calcium and avoid drinking more that two glasses of milk a day.
- Get some exercise. It need not be something that is strenuous and physically exerting. A simple walk after your meals has been shown to work wonders on gestational diabetes.
- Drink lots of water to maintain the body’s water levels.
- Continuously monitor your body’s blood sugar levels and keep a record of them.
Mild cases of gestational diabetes can be controlled by proper dieting. We are looking for reducing the amount of fat, simple sugar and salt consumption and increasing the amount of complex carbohydrates and fiber rich foods. According to the American Diabetes Association, less than 30% of the total calorie count should come from fats, no more than 10% to 20% of the total calorie count from proteins, and around 50% of the calories should come from carbohydrates and fiber rich food stuffs like whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
A day’s calorie intake can be divided into six small meals to make sure that the calories are distributed evenly throughout the day.
When you wake up in the morning your blood sugar levels will normally be low. To start your day, a small high protein meal that includes meat and a food that is rich in carbohydrates like whole grain toast will be good. Wash it down with a glass of milk or a cup of low calorie yogurt.
Vegetable sticks with a low calorie dip, whole wheat crackers, and small servings of fruits or cottage cheese will be ideal for the second meal of your day. This will keep you fill till it is time for your lunch.
Choose a meal that is rich in proteins like garden vegetable salad or whole grain pasta or pita bread.
Meal 4 mainly comprises of fruits and vegetables. Vegetable or fruit juices with a dash of cheese and whole grain bagel will make a quick, tasty and healthy snack.
A whole grain wrap stuffed with chicken and salad is a good meal. You can dress this up with a drizzle of a salad of your choice or you can treat yourself with a sugar free cookie.
When you are up for more than three hours after having your dinner, you sugar levels will start to dip. An apple or a whole grain muffin or a few peanut crackers with a cup of milk will be an ideal bed time snack.
As you would have surmised, with proper diet and exercise as advised by your doctor it is easy to fight gestational diabetes.