Gestational diabetes (mellitus) is diabetes, or glucose intolerance, recognized during pregnancy. It has all of the normal effects of diabetes mellitus, but compounds with the possible complications that may result to the mother or child. Thankfully, gestational diabetes is manageable with simple things, like exercise and a proper gestational diabetes diet menu. If properly managed, gestational diabetes may reverse after pregnancy ends.
Gestational diabetes can be managed with diet control. However, unless advised otherwise by a competent physician, a mother should not restrict her caloric intake, or curb her urges, as those are natural and will help the baby grow. The following is a list of suggestions on what to add and subtract from one’s everyday diet.
- Sugar. Try to get rid of excess sugar in the diet. This includes hidden sugars in softdrinks, juices, and other liquids. The rule of thumb is to try and drink only water while pregnant. Drinks other than pure water will often contain sugar to make them more palatable. Of course, it might be advisable to drink pure juice, but one should be sure that it really is just juice with nothing added. A juicer would be good for this purpose.
- Foods with lower glycemic index. The glycemic index is a measurement of how long it takes for the glucose in the food to go into your bloodstream. In addition, the lower the glycemic index, the longer it will take for one to become hungry again. Foods with a low glycemic index include pasta, corn, oatmeal, and wheat bread. Rice should be avoided.
- Foods with a high insulin index/glycemic index ratio. A food’s insulin index shows how high one’s blood insulin levels will rise upon consumption of the food. The highest insulin/glycemic index ratio belongs to yogurt: while yogurt has a relatively high glycemic index, the amount of insulin it induces allows the glucose it contains to be taken out of the bloodstream relatively quickly.
- Meats. Unless you’re vegan (staying vegan for a pregnancy is highly discouraged as the baby needs the proteins most abundant in meat to grow and develop), meat can be filling. One should not consume too much processed meat. It would be best if one cooked their own meat fresh from the market. This is the food one should eat when they are truly hungry, as meat provides essential amino acids for growth and does not contain too much sugar. It is a good idea to eat meat with every meal to maintain satiety. When a pregnant mother is hungry, it might be a good idea to have a little beef jerky or perhaps some pieces of cooked liver.
Diet alone may not suffice for managing diabetes. If needed, exercise, especially light aerobic exercise, will be beneficial to both the mother and the child, as exercise improves blood circulation throughout the body, allowing more nutrients and oxygen to pass from the mother to the child, as well as getting rid of excess energy in the form of glucose. Walking for long periods of time could help, as long as it is not too much of an inconvenience to do so, since the extra mass that the baby adds provides an additional load for one’s legs, but it can be done. Other exercises that could be recommended are swimming, as the water will support the combined weight of the mother and child and make it easier for the mother to exert herself. Mothers should not completely exhaust themselves, however.
If the gestational diabetes diet menu combined with exercise still fails to manage the blood glucose levels, a physician may recommend getting insulin shots, just like a diabetic. Thankfully, it may end after pregnancy, as gestational diabetes is reversible in most cases.