A gestational diabetes diet plan is extremely important for expecting mothers. Gestational Diabetes is a cause for concern because it affects approximately one in fourteen women during pregnancy. The key to a healthy pregnancy for a woman with gestational diabetes is to keep blood sugar levels in balance. For this purpose, the benefits of a gestational diabetes diet are crucial.
Causes and Concerns of Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy when the blood sugar level, also known as glucose, is too high. During this process, the body does not create enough insulin, causing the blood sugar levels to rise above normal. Without enough insulin, glucose cannot exit the blood to be changed into energy. As a result, the build up of insulin takes place, and the blood cells do not receive the amount of fuel needed to properly function.
The most common occurrences of gestational diabetes are complications during labor and delivery, and a high infant birth weight. Birthdefects associated with gestational diabetes include heart damage, limb deformities, still born, and neural tube defects.
Dietary Recommendations for Gestational Diabetes
Dietary recommendations for gestational diabetes should meet the needs of pregnancy and maternal blood glucose requirements. In order to maintain normal blood glucose levels, carbohydrates should be restricted to 35-40 percent of energy or caloric intake. Moderate exercise and diet may help to control gestational diabetes. However, if blood glucose levels fail to normalize, insulin or other forms of medication may be required.
The basic guidelines for a gestational diabetes diet plan are inclusive of a variety of foods with an even distribution of calories and carbohydrates on a daily basis. The American Diabetes Association recommends three small to moderate sized meals and two to four snacks a day. Complex carbohydrates and high fiber foods should be the emphasis of the plan, and the guidelines below should be followed:
- Eating the same amount of carbohydrates at the same time each day will help to keep the blood sugar level normal.
- Eating meals and snacks on an even schedule (about every two to three hours) is also recommended.
- Avoid foods and beverages with added sugar, honey corn syrup, maple syrup, jams and jellies. Limit milk to two to three glasses per day to keep lactose levels down.
- High fiber foods will control bowel movements and blood sugar levels.
- Do not skip meals. Consistency is the key and will help blood sugar levels remain normal if food is distributed evenly throughout each day.
- Eat a good breakfast to help stabilize glucose levels. Boost protein intake and limit carbohydrates if needed.
- An exercise plan should be approved by your physician to help increase fitness levels.
Benefits of a Gestational Diabetes Diet Plan
The benefits of a gestational diabetes diet plan is to help control and reduce related health risks for the mother and baby by following a regulated meal plan. The plan is designed specifically for the mother based on weight, height, physical activity, and glucose intolerance. Considerations are made for daily calorie intake, portion size, and overall food balance, including vitamin and mineral supplementation.
Overall, a gestational diabetes diet plan inclusive of scheduled meals and physical activity will lower health risks for the mother and baby during pregnancy. However, some women with gestational diabetes, develop diabetes (usually type 2) after pregnancy. Health care professionals strongly advise against excessive weight gain, and encourage weight management programs that include proper diet and physical activity.