You’re probably worried that gestational diabetes will mean you have to go on insulin, starve, or possibly even both. That’s crazy talk! Your registered dietician will help you determine your individual nutrition needs during pregnancy.
Everyone digests food a bit differently and it is important to understand how different foods affect your own blood sugars by testing your blood sugar after eating.
- Alex eats a banana and her blood sugar goes up. When she eats a cookie, her blood sugar stays stable.
- Diana eats a banana, and her blood sugar stays stable. When Diana eats a cookie, her blood sugar spikes.
The best way to know how a food affects your own body is to test using the blood sugar meter. In general, the more sugary and starchy a food (carbohydrate-heavy foods), the higher it will raise the blood sugar.
In general, here are a few suggestions:
Watch out for hidden sugars!
Gestational diabetes means the body is having a hard time processing the sugar that is in the food that is eaten, so reducing the amount of sugar to the body is the first step to getting things under control. Foods high in both natural and added sugars cause the blood sugar to be high, so even if it says “Unsweetened” or “No added sugar”- you need to check the label to see how much sugar there is. For example, this is the label for Unsweetened apple juice:
Yikes! One cup (250mL) has 30g of sugar—which means it has 6 teaspoons of sugar per cup! The World Health Organization recommends people to have less than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, so this one cup of apple juice would be the limit PER DAY! And this 6 teaspoon recommendation is for people without diabetes, so it may have to be even less if you have gestational diabetes. Beware, as most sugar is hidden in processed foods like flavoured yogurt and sauces. For help reading nutrition labels, please click here.
Some women are very prone to swelling during pregnancy, and reducing salt may help to reduce the swelling.
Eat smaller meals/snacks at regular time
Given the needs of the baby and the growing uterus as it takes up more and more room, eating smaller meals may help to reduce heartburn and help with digestion. Eating smaller meals more frequently may also prevent you from getting too hungry and feeling weak, especially if you have pregnancy-induced nausea and/or vomiting. That being said, don’t force yourself to eat if you’re not hungry. If you’re concerned about your weight gain, please speak to your health professional.
Including foods high in fibre:
High fibre foods help make you feel full, reduce constipation, and stabilize blood sugars. The American Pregnancy Association recommends that pregnant women eat 25 to 30 grams of dietary fibre each day. Fibre is found in:
- whole, unprocessed vegetables, fruit, and nuts- particularly in the skins
- whole grains where you can see individuals grain kernels: :brown rice, quinoa, and barley
- legumes including beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
Foods that contain more than 5g of fibre per serving are good choices.
Now that you know a little bit about healthy eating with GDM, let’s take a look at what kind of exercise is safe for GDM.
With a little dedication and discipline, you can do it! You’ve got this!