Updated: Jun 2, 2022
Gestational diabetes is diabetes diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy (gestation). Like other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how your cells use sugar (glucose). Gestational diabetes causes high blood sugar that can affect your pregnancy and your baby's health.
During pregnancy, your placenta makes hormones that cause glucose to build up in your blood. Usually, your pancreas can send out enough insulin to handle it. But if your body can't make enough insulin or stops using insulin as it should, your blood sugar levels rise, and you get gestational diabetes.
This is the medical reasoning behind having this condition but what about when it's developed from diet? It's crucial for a pregnant person to have a well balanced nutrient filled diet. Good habits lead to good outcomes. This is what we tell all of our clients. Nutrition is the foundation for a healthy pregnancy and birth. Some people may still think that the old saying of your "eating for two", means you eat all the time and in bigger portions. What this actually means is you'll need a higher amount of proteins, good fats and good carbs to adequately give you and your baby the proper nutrients needed for growth & development. So technically you can say you'll need to eat twice as healthy.
Here's an example of a healthier diet plan:
Ideally, you should always have 6 portions of protein a day. This would be 3 meals, 3 snacks and they should always start with a protein. Protein is very important during pregnancy. It's typically recommended to get 80-100 grams of protein a day. This is to ensure the proper growth of the baby's tissues and organs, including the brain. As we like to say, protein is the building blocks for your baby. It also helps with breast and uterine tissue growth during pregnancy. It even plays a role in your increasing blood supply, allowing more blood to be sent to your baby. Along with protein, there should be lots of veggies. The veggies would be considered good carbs and are filled with good nutrients for you and your baby. When choosing fruits, always go for the ones low in sugar. Tropical fruits like mango, melons, grapes etc are very high. Berries like blueberries, blackberrie and even strawberries are much better options and are filled with good antioxidants too. If you decide to have carbs they should be healthy carbs like veggies as mentioned, but stay away from the starchy carbs like white rice, white potatoes or pasta. Instead, try to stick to small amounts of brown rice, sweet potato, and if you must have pasta then you can try shredded zucchini or spaghetti squash as an alternative. Always measure everything out to ensure you are having a serving size. This will give you good practice at reading the labels to all of the food that you eat. This is important because you may find that something you assumed was healthy is loaded with carbs or sugar. Another very important thing to keep in mind is to drink lots of water. In fact, a pregnant person should be drinking half of their weight in water. It's also best to avoid all fruit juices or sugary drinks, sodas as they are loaded with sugar and other unhealthy ingredients not meant for a growing baby. Having said that, ice cream, candy, sweets in general are completely out of the question. Especially if there is a risk of gestational diabetes. The goal is to try to prevent this by eating healthy but if this is something that becomes a risk factor then diet would be the only way to hopefully lower your risks. Sometimes, changing your habits can be difficult but over time will get easier. You may notice by changing your eating habits and focussing on healthier options that your family will probably start to change theirs as well. This is definitely important so that this new baby on the way grows up seeing healthy habits too. So even though nutrition is the foundation for a healthy pregnancy and birth, it's also setting the foundation for a healthier family as you all grow together.