Food is a popular subject when it comes to pregnancy from the “eating for two” disclaimer to the late-night ice cream cravings. While you might see pregnancy as a time to relax and treat yourself, having a balanced diet is essential during this time in order to make your health and the health of your baby a priority, especially when it comes to gestational diabetes. This condition can lead to further problems as the pregnancy continues. But, by implementing these healthy eating practices, you can manage and even avoid getting gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
It may come as a shock to some women that yes, you can get diabetes simply by being pregnant. 6 to 9 percent of women in the United States experience this fortunately short-lived condition, which is typically diagnosed around 24-28 weeks.
Like type 1 and 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes causes your body to have problems producing and processing insulin, which is responsible for maintaining blood sugar levels in your bloodstream. This imbalance can also cause additional conditions such as high blood pressure and even have a very large baby that could potentially result in a c-section.
Making Healthy Food Choices
If you haven’t experienced diabetes before, it can seem like an immense challenge to dramatically change your eating habits. But if you make these simple changes to your diet and lifestyle, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think!
- Avoid eating food high in sugar – This one can often be the most difficult, as this not only means limiting desserts but also many food and drinks where added sugar is hidden, especially in fruit juices and soft drinks. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll be entirely safe eating gobs of fruit either. Fruits have lots of natural sugars and, while fruit may be a better alternative to some of your sugary go-to’s, you should still be careful not to overindulge.
- Limit processed food and simple carbohydrates/starches – While you can easily understand this to mean just cutting down on fast food and oil-fried products, you will also need to watch out for other common food items that might seem healthy, but still have large amounts of carbs or starches.
- Focus on the nutrients you do need – As you avoid sugar and carbohydrates, build your diet and meals around the nutrients your body will need the most. This includes a lot of protein and fiber, which will make you feel full and give you the energy you will need to nourish both your own body and the little life growing inside. Good protein options include white meats like chicken breast, turkey, and fish, as well as eggs and vegetarian alternatives such as tofu. Unsaturated fats found in foods like avocados, nuts, and olive oil are also going to be beneficial. And don’t skimp on the vegetables either! They provide an excellent source of fiber as well as vitamins and essential minerals.
- Prioritize your breakfast – For many, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this still holds true for individuals with diabetes, so make sure you start off your day right with a breakfast packed with nutrients.
- Get inspiration for cooking and meal prepping – If you struggle with finding things to eat under these restrictions, look into different ideas for meal prepping or diabetes-friendly recipes that others have published. The internet is a great place to look for this kind of support if you need it!
No matter what changes or struggles you go through during those nine months, remember to be kind to your body as it grows and nurtures the baby that will make this time of waiting worth it!