Diet advice made simple
This page will give an overview to dietary advice in gestational diabetes. It is not intended to take the place of a registered dietician and people with pre-existing diabetes will likely be using much more advanced dietary techniques such as carbohydrate counting – such detailed exchange use and carbohydrate counting will not be covered here. This advice is culled from my experience, the nutrition advice notes from our local health authority (Alberta Health Services/Covenant Health) and diabetes in pregancy units I had the good fortune to visit including Joslin Diabetes Center, Cambridge University Hospitals UK, Auckland District Health Board and Adelaide,South Australia.
If you take three meals a day and three snacks (mid morning, mid afternoon and bedtime) and avoid high fat foods, sweet foods and sugary drinks (drink water) you are well on the way to a healthy diet. If you measure your blood sugar after a meal you may find one particular type of food raises your blood sugar and thus might be best avoided.
Foods fall into one of three primary groups:
Carbohydrates – made up of starchs and sugars and these typically drive the rise in blood sugar after eating. Examples of carbohydrate foods include: bread, potato, pasta, rice, fruit, breakfast cereals, cookies. Some carbohydrate foods raise the blood sugar more readily (high glycemic index foods) and usually the more fibre in food the slower the glucose absorption. In general use whole grain foods – multigrain breads, whole-wheat flour foods, high fibre cereals, fruits (not fruit juice) and avoid processed foods, jams and syrups work the best in helping control blood sugar. Many people find the portion size critical, smaller is better.
Protein – typically found in fish and meats. Usually healthy once not a lot of fat present.
Fat – found in dairy produce and some meats but often in pastries, cookies, fries, chips. The body will readily use fat as energy so a high fat meal and some carbohydrate results in the sugar not being used up so it stays higher. Fat is calorie dense (lots of calories for the amount of food consumed) and since overweight plays such a big role in gestational diabetes fat intake needs attention. Try to avoid fried foods, aim for low fat dressings, trim off extra fat from meats, use skinless poultry pieces and leave the batter off fish. Snack foods are often loaded with fat so try to steer clear of them.
An example of a good food choice day would be-
Two slices whole grain toast with no trans fat margarine
Piece of fruit (not juice), boiled egg
Decaf coffee or tea
Fruit, skim milk
Whole grain sandwich, lettuce, tomato, chicken, sliced turkey, lean ham.
Fruit, Water, decaf coffee or tea, skim milk
Fruit, Crackers, Skim mild, water with slice of lemon.
Potato and vegetable
Lean meat, chicken or fish
Salad and low fat dressing
Water of decaf beverage.
Bran muffin – careful with the fat, Skim milk.