Why Should I Care if I Have Gestational Diabetes?

Why Should I Care if I Have Gestational Diabetes?

Since gestational diabetes only occurs to pregnant women, most women have no idea what this means. Although many are familiar with what diabetes is in general, they do not know what to expect when it comes to gestational diabetes. Questions plague the mind of a woman who is newly-diagnosed with gestational diabetes: Is it the same as the common type 2 diabetes? What are its effects on me and my baby? Should I be alarmed? Should I even care? The answer to the last question is very simple: Yes, you should care. Just like any other types of diseases, you should take some precautionary measures if you are diagnosed with this condition. In order to help you understand the gravity to the situation, here are some information on what gestational diabetes is.

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a condition that manifests only during pregnancy. Just like the more commonly known diabetes type 2, gestational diabetes involves an increase in blood glucose or sugar levels. This is because the body cannot produce adequate amounts of insulin to match the glucose intake of the pregnant woman, since a pregnant woman’s insulin needs is multiplied to two or three times the normal insulin requirement. Moreover, a pregnant woman releases certain hormones that antagonize the action of insulin. Hence, control of blood sugar is important for women with gestational diabetes.

What are the effects of gestational diabetes?

So what if you have gestational diabetes? Remember that since you are carrying a child in your womb, this means that the effects of gestational diabetes might not only manifest on you, but also on your child. Glucose can cross the placental barrier since this is the main source of nutrients for your growing fetus. The child of a mother with gestational diabetes tends to be larger in size because of the amount of glucose that they get. This can pose some problems during delivery. If the baby is already too large before it becomes term, this might prompt the doctor to deliver the baby prematurely. If the baby reaches full term, s/he may be delivered via Caesarean section because s/he cannot fit inside the birth canal. Normal spontaneous delivery might injure the baby. Moreover, your baby can have periods of hypoglycemia during his/her first few days since his/her pancreas have gotten used to producing large amounts of insulin while still in the womb.

You can become affected as well. Those who have gestational diabetes have higher risks of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy because of the thick consistency of the blood. Hypertension during pregnancy, also known as preeclampsia, is a life-threatening condition for both the mother and the baby.

Based on the aforementioned effects, pregnant women should definitely care about their condition. Controlling blood sugar levels is of utmost importance to prevent any unwanted incidents. That being said, proper diet that is low in sugar and enough exercise should be practiced by women with gestational diabetes during pregnancy. If you want to learn more about the dietary recommendations for gestational diabetes and other related information, sign up for our newsletter.

How is Gestational Diabetes Treated?

How is Gestational Diabetes Treated?

Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes is not the end of the world. Although the word “diabetes” might seem imposing to you since it is a chronic condition, remember that you can still do something about your condition because it only happens during pregnancy. Besides, it is of paramount importance that you do something about gestational diabetes so that it will not adversely affect your baby. To be able to cope with gestational diabetes in a healthy way, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Keep your blood glucose levels in check. Your aim is to keep your blood glucose levels within normal range, just like those pregnant women without gestational diabetes. It is important that you know the normal values so that you can easily monitor your blood sugar levels. Your blood glucose level should be 95 mg/dl before meals. One hour after eating, it should be less than 140 mg/dl. It should go back to the normal range of 120 mg/dl or less two hours after eating. In order to monitor this, you would need a blood glucose monitor at home. This should be used at least once a day, or more frequently as needed.
  • Lose weight before you get pregnant. Just like type 2 diabetes, women who are most at risk for developing gestational diabetes are those who love to eat and are overweight. Therefore, those who are more than 20% their ideal body weight should start thinking about going on a diet. This does not only mean that you have to decrease the amount of food that you take. You should also consider making healthier choices, such as eating a vegetable salad instead of a whole chocolate bar. You should also limit your fat intake, as this would also benefit your baby. In addition, exercising is an important component of losing weight. Even though you are pregnant, you can still exercise as long as you first consult your doctor regarding the exercises that are safe for your condition.
  • Monitor your baby. Even if you do not have gestational diabetes, you have to go on pre-natal checkups at least once every trimester. For women with gestational diabetes, this should be done more frequently. Your doctor will monitor your baby’s movements through kick counts to know whether your baby is moving less than usual. Fetal ultrasounds will also be done to see how big your baby is growing, and whether or not your gestational diabetes already affects the growth of the baby. Your baby might also be subjected to a non-stress test to see how your baby’s heart responds to movement.
  • Take your prescribed medications. You have to make sure that you control your blood sugar levels. However, if your blood sugar remains uncontrolled, you should ask your doctor about taking insulin shots. The good thing about these is that insulin cannot cross the placental barrier, so your baby will not be affected by this medication. But before taking insulin shots, your doctor might first give you oral hypoglycemic agents to lower down your blood sugar levels. Avoid self-medicating and always ask your doctor about the safety of your child when taking any type of medication during pregnancy.

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What Are Great Gestational Diabetes Snacks To Carry With You When You Have Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational Diabetes Snacks

When you have gestational diabetes, you might find it hard to decide on what kinds of snacks you need to eat. Some women might even avoid eating snacks altogether, making them very hungry during mealtimes. The truth is that women with gestational diabetes need to eat snacks in between meals. These gestational diabetes snacks keep you from getting hungry until your next meal, thus helping you not eat too much at mealtimes. This, in turn, will help keep your blood sugar levels in check. Moreover, it prevents the risk of having hypoglycemia in between meals.

Women with gestational diabetes are advised to have two to four snacks per day. Your gestational diabetes snacks choices will largely depend on how much you exercise and also the hypoglycemic agents you are taking. In general, however, here are some examples of snacks that have low glucose content and can be eaten by women with gestational diabetes:

  • Plain yogurt with natural sweetener – A cup of plain yogurt combined with an herbal sweetener like Stevia is a good dessert for women with GDM. You only get carbohydrates from yogurt, but since you use a natural sweetener, you don’t get extra calories or glucose.
  • Sugar-free gum – The chewing action that you make while chewing the gum in your mouth can give you a satiated feeling while you are waiting for your meals. Also, since this is sugar-free, you don’t get calories from it. You can also try munching on some sugar-free candies.
  • Unsalted almonds – 23 pieces of naturally unsalted almonds is only equal to five grams of carbohydrates, so you can enjoy quite a lot of these healthy and crunchy almonds without fearing a sudden spike in your blood sugar levels.
  • Fruit-flavored bottled water – You can find different variants of these fruit-flavored bottled waters in the supermarket. Whether carbonated or not, they taste like your favorite fruity drinks, only with no caffeine and no carbs. However, what you need to remember is that most of these fruit-flavored bottled waters contain Splenda, so always drink these in moderation.
  • gestational diabetes snacksLow-carbohydrate vegetables – You can munch on vegetables with low carbohydrate content like asparagus, artichoke, celery, and cucumbers. Although these veggies won’t really sate your sugar cravings, they act like the chewing gums that occupy your mouth while waiting for your meals.
  • Sweet pickles – You can get individual-sized servings from Mt. Olive. They give you a tangy flavor while still remaining sugar-free. Moreover, the strong flavor provides a feeling of satiety, thus quelling the appetite easily.

In choosing gestational diabetes snacks, you have to remember to always eat healthy, meaning indulge in foods that have low caloric and sugar content but contain nutrients and vitamins that you and your baby needs. You should also limit the carbohydrates you consume per snack to 1 to 2 carbohydrate choices. As for midnight snacks, you might also need to eat some, but make sure you talk to your health care provider first.

For more information on gestational diabetes and the dietary choices you have, you can sign up to our newsletter.  If you are in search of a complete gestational diabetes diet meal plan with recipes you can look at buying my book on Amazon, find the link here. Gestational Diabetes Book!

Eating Right is Eating the Way You Want to Eat

The title of this article may seem conflicting to you. After all, how can you eat what you want if you have gestational diabetes? Although at first the dietary modifications that you need to employ may limit your food intake drastically, remember that this is not the goal of gestational diabetes treatment. You only need to lessen your carbohydrate intake so as not to increase your blood glucose levels. That means that you can still eat other foods as long as they do not spike up your sugar levels. Hence, you still have a pretty vast variety of foods that you can choose from.

Eating right means knowing what is good for you and choosing from the foods that you want to eat from those choices. To aid you in making healthy diabetic food choices, here are some tips for you to remember:

  • Choose complex high-fiber carbohydrates. If you love eating carbohydrates, you can still indulge in them even if you have gestational diabetes. It all boils down to what kind of carbohydrates you can eat. Generally speaking, you should only avoid those that contain refined carbohydrates, such as pasta, rice, and white bread. You also have to avoid those that contain simple sugars, like candy and soda. What you can eat are those known to be slow-release carbohydrates, which are so-called because they are digested slowly, thus letting your body control the blood glucose levels more easily. These are even advantageous because they make you feel full for a longer period of time. Choose alternatives to your favorite refined carbohydrates, such as brown rice instead of white rice, sweet potatoes instead of mashed and fried ones, and whole-wheat pastas and breads instead of the regular ones.
  • Watch out for your sweets. Although sweets contain simple sugars, it does not mean that you can never eat them during the duration of your gestational diabetes condition. Moderation is the key in eating these favorite desserts. At first, your sweet tooth habit may be hard to overcome, but it will get easier overtime once you keep on practicing healthy eating. Learn to compromise, like letting go of complex carbohydrate foods if you want to have some dessert. You should also learn to eat healthy fats, such as those found in yogurt and peanut butter. Also, sweets should be eaten as part of the meal to avoid spikes in blood sugar levels.
  • Eat healthy fats, not unhealthy ones. There are two kinds of fats – the unhealthy fats (saturated and trans fats) that can be found in whole milk dairy products, red meat, and eggs; and the healthy fats (unsaturated fats) coming from fish and plant sources. Of course, common sense dictates that you should eat more healthy fats, since these contain omega-3 fatty acids that are good for both your brain and heart. Those with gestational diabetes are also at risk for developing heart and brain complications.

Remember that eating smart is the key to eating right for women with gestational diabetes. If you want to learn more tips in eating the right foods for gestational diabetes, please sign up for our newsletter or Buy my book on Amazon, it is a complete gestational diabetes meal plan.

Common Portion Sizes of Carbohydrate Choices Part 3 – Milk and Dairy Gestational Diabetes

milk and dairy gestational diabetesWhen it comes to gestational diabetes, one of the most important things you need to look after is your diet. The main problem in gestational diabetes is that your body does not produce enough insulin or does not have enough insulin receptors to lower the glucose levels in the blood.  That is the reason why the foods that you eat contribute a lot to the management of your condition. Carbohydrates, most especially, should not be totally avoided, but ingested moderately to avoid sudden surges or dips in blood sugar levels. We shall discuss milk and dairy gestational diabetes

Aside from bread and other starches, you can get carbohydrates from milk and other dairy products. This includes soy milk and yogurt. This food group serves as great sources of energy, proteins, and fats. It is also high in vitamin A and calcium. Each serving of milk and dairy products is equivalent to 12 grams of carbohydrates. Here are the serving sizes:

Milk and Dairy Products Gestational Diabetes

Size of One Serving

Nonfat milk 1 cup
Low-fat, reduced, or skim milk 1 cup
Evaporated, fat-free milk ½ cup
Plain, unsweetened, low-fat soymilk 1 cup
Plain, light, low-fat yogurt 3/4 cup or 6 ounces
Low-fat, frozen yogurt 1/3 cup
Non-fat, fruit flavored yogurt with sweetener 1 cup
Sugar free custard, pudding, or evaporated milk ½ cup
Fresh milk 1 cup
Non-fat milk powder 1/3 cup
Non-fat or low-fat cottage cheese ¼ cup
Low-fat, reduced, or non-fat cheese 1 ounce
Peanut butter 1 tablespoon
Margarine 1 tablespoon
Low-fat or fat-free cream cheese 2 tablespoons

Tips on Including Milk and Dairy Gestational Diabetes Diet

  • Since you are pregnant, you can have four to five servings of milk or yogurt every day as part of your diet.
  • Drink more skim or low-fat milk instead of whole milk, since this contributes less glucose to your bloodstream.
  • If you want to add sweetener to your low-fat or fat-free yogurt, you can do so, provided that you use a low-calorie sweetener. There are many low-calorie sweeteners that are being sold in the market nowadays, especially made for persons with diabetes.
  • If you are going to use sour cream, you can use low-fat, plain yogurt as a good substitute. This can also work as a dip for chips and such.
  • It is best to eat dairy products that are either non-fat or low-fat. As much as possible, you should avoid foods that are high in saturated fat.

Aside from the tips that have been mentioned above, you should also keep in mind that you should eat in small, frequent feedings. Also ingest more protein, since this helps even out the carbohydrates in your diet. Proteins like meat and other meat products also give you energy, making you feel sated throughout the day. High-fiber foods should also be included in your gestational diabetes meal plan, and these foods include cereals and fruits. Indulge in sweets sparingly, as these can quickly raise your blood sugar levels.

To know more about meal planning for gestational diabetes, you can subscribe to our newsletter in the form below, or check out our new book about gestational diabetes meal planning.

Fruits and Vegetables Gestational Diabetes-Common Portion Sizes of Carbohydrate Choices

Fruits and Vegetables Gestational Diabetes

In gestational diabetes, it is important that you control what you eat. This does not necessarily mean that you should avoid eating certain foods. On the contrary, you can eat any type of food that you want, provided that you do so in moderation. This is to avoid raising your blood sugar levels to uncontrollable heights. The important thing is to keep a balanced diet with all the nutrients still present in your meal so that both you and your baby can grow healthy. On your diet try fruits and vegetables gestational diabetes!

That being said, carbohydrates are very important parts of your meal. It will give you the energy to do your daily activities, although too much of it can raise your blood sugar levels. Therefore, here are the serving sizes for fruits and vegetables.

Each fruit here contains 15 grams of carbohydrates:

Fruits

Size of One Serving

Apple, orange, pear, or peach 1 small piece the size of a tennis ball
Banana or mango ½ piece
Grapefruit 1 large piece
Small grapes 17 pieces
Honeydew or cantaloupe 1 cup
Raisins 2 tablespoons
Unsweetened, canned fruit ½ cup
Papaya or watermelon 1 cup cubed
Apple, orange, or grapefruit juice ½ cup
Applesauce ½ cup
Fresh blueberries or blackberries ¾ cup
Kiwi fruit 1 piece
Dried fruit ¼ cup
Fresh strawberries 1 ¼ cup
Lemon 1 large piece
Nectarine 1 cup
Diced pineapple ¾ cup
Canned pineapple 1/3 cup
Raspberries 1 cup
Fresh cherries 12 pieces
Dates 3 pieces
Figs 2 small pieces
Plum 2 pieces
Diced rhubarb 3 cups
Low-calorie cranberry juice 10 ounces
Unsweetened orange, grape, or pineapple juice 4 ounces
Unsweetened lemon juice 6 ounces

 

On the other hand, each vegetable here contains 5 grams of carbohydrates:

Vegetables

Size of One Serving

Raw broccoli 1 cup
Cooked broccoli ½ cup
Spinach and other greens 1 cup
Raw cauliflower 1 cup
Raw carrots 1 cup
Fresh pepper 1 cup
Canned tomato ½ cup
Leafy vegetables 1 cup
Tomato sauce 2 tablespoons
Vegetable or tomato juice 1 cup
Chopped asparagus 1 cup
Bamboo shoots, beans, Brussels sprouts, or bean sprouts ½ cup
Cabbage, celery, collard greens, green beans, fresh mushrooms, mustard greens, radishes, or squash 1 cup
Chili pepper 5 small pieces
Turnips, kale, leeks, okra, onion, sauerkraut, scallions, or rutabagas ½ cup

Take note that vegetables contain 1/3 of the carbohydrate of a regular serving of any other carbohydrate.  You can eat 3 times as much of them as other carbohydrates for the same 15 gm.  Vegetables and whole fruits also contain more fiber and keep you feeling full longer than other foods, so they are an important part of your overall plan to reduce your blood sugar.

Tips on Including Fruits and Vegetables in your Diet- Fruits and Vegetables Gestational Diabetes

  • Eat vegetables with only little or no fat, dressings, or sauces.
  • If you want to have salad dressing, choose the low-fat type.
  • You can also steam vegetables using low-fat broth.
  • When cooking vegetables, add a small piece of smoked turkey or lean ham instead of fat.
  • Sprinkle herbs and spices on your vegetable salad because these flavorings have almost no fat or calories.
  • If you do use fat in cooking vegetables, choose soft margarine, olive oil, or canola oil.
  • Eat smaller pieces of fruit rather than make them into juices.
  • If you are going to make a fruit juice, do not add any more sugar.

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