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!

Gestational Diabetes Bread and Starches-Common Portion Sizes of Carbohydrate Choices Part 1

Gestational Diabetes Bread and Starches

gestational diabetes breadA very important part of gestational diabetes therapy is watching your diet. As in any type of diabetes, the food that you eat should be moderated in order for you avoid sudden spikes of glucose in your blood, as your body’s insulin cannot cope up with the amount of glucose in your body. Carbohydrates are the main sources of glucose, but this does not mean that a woman with gestational diabetes is no longer allowed to eat carbohydrate-rich foods. A gestational diabetic can enjoy any type of food, as long as she controls the portion sizes of every food she eats.

If you are planning your gestational diabetes menu, here are the serving sizes of the most common breads and starches. All of the amounts here are equal to one serving, and each serving contains about 15 grams of carbohydrates.

Gestational Diabetes Bread

Size of One Serving

Whole grain bread 1 ounce slice
Cooked cereal ½ cup
Cooked rice or pasta 1/3 cup
Cooked beans, peas, or lentils ½ cup
Corn ½ cup
Large baked potato ¼ portion
Mashed potato ½ cup
Flour or corn tortilla 1 to 6 inches
Low fat crackers 6 squares
Hamburger or hot dog bun, English muffin, or frozen bagel ½ portion
Popcorn 3 cups
Rice cakes 2 pieces
Graham crackers 3 pieces
Concentrated bran 1/3 cup
Dinner roll 1 small portion
Broth-based soup 1 cup
Pretzels, potato chips, or tortilla chips 3/4 ounces
Sweet potatoes or yams ½ cup
Pancake 1 piece, 4 inches

It would also be very helpful if you consult your dietitian regarding your numbers of servings per day of carbohydrate, since this varies from person to person. However, in general, you can choose one kind of starch and have a maximum of three servings per meal, or you can choose several combinations of starches for a bit of variety.  If you find a gestational diabetes meal plan is helpful, you can read more about planning in our gestational diabetes diet meal plan.

Tips on Including Starches and Bread in Your Diet

  • If possible, choose pasta, cereals, and whole grain bread, since they are made of complex carbohydrates, hence not causing sudden spikes in blood glucose levels.
  • Fried and high-fat starches, such as tortilla chips, potato chips, and biscuits, should be eaten sparingly. Instead, you can opt for baked potatoes, pretzels, and low-fat muffins.
  • Instead of using sour cream on baked potato, try using a low-fat or fat-free yogurt.
  • For your dips and bread fillings, remember to use low-fat or fat-free substitutes, like low-fat mayonnaise or light margarine.
  • Use skim or low-fat milk together with your cereals.
  • If you are buying foods from the market, check out the nutrition facts on the food labels so that you have an idea how much carbohydrate and other nutrients are stored in the food that you eat. (remember, one serving carbohydrate = 15 gm of carbohydrate)
  • Check the serving sizes using measuring cups and spoons. You can also use a food scale if you have one.

Remember that planning your diet is an integral part in coping up with gestational diabetes.

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What Makes a Good Lunch for a Gestational Diabetic Diet?

Eating Lunch At Work?  Try To Make & Take Your Meals-lunch for a gestational diabetic diet

lunch for a gestational diabetic dietWomen with gestational diabetes should make some lifestyle modifications, and that includes modifying their diets. Although you can still eat whatever types of food that you want, the key is to limit the portions that you eat, especially foods that increase your blood sugar levels. In order to watch your diet, it is advisable to plan your meals accordingly. Here are some tips in creating a meal plan and lunch for a gestational diabetic diet that is suited for women with gestational diabetes.

How to Create a Meal Plan-lunch for a gestational diabetic diet

There are a few basic ideas that you need to keep in mind when making a meal plan. The first concept is the importance of carbohydrates in your diet. Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates need to be included in your meals even though they are the main sources of glucose. Besides, it is hard to totally eliminate carbohydrates from your diet since all foods, more or less, contain a combination of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. The only thing that you need to remember when it comes to carbohydrates is that you have to regulate your intake of carbohydrate-rich foods. Unlike fats and proteins that take a long time to affect the blood sugar levels, carbohydrates can cause sudden spikes in blood sugar levels, so that is why they need to be measured.

Another idea that you need to keep in mind is that you have to promote nutrition through a balanced diet. Healthy food choices are very important, since you are not just thinking about your health but also of your baby’s. Aside from good choices, you also need to consider the timing and portions of your meals, as everything has to be taken in moderation.

Controlling Blood Glucose Levels

Here are some helpful tips in meal planning that can help you control your blood sugar levels:

  1. Eat small, frequent feedings. You need to eat at least every 2 to 3 hours so as to spread the amount of glucose that you take throughout the day.
  2. Include proteins in your diet. Proteins help even out your blood glucose, plus it also gives you energy to last throughout the day.
  3. Eat high-fiber foods. Foods that are high in fiber include cereals, whole-grain breads, beans, and fresh and frozen vegetables. You can also include fruits in your afternoon or evening meals since these are also good sources of fiber.
  4. Avoid sugar and sweets. These can easily raise your blood sugar levels since these are composed of simple sugars. Although it is okay to take them every now and then, do so sparingly. Avoid fruit juices, soft drinks, and desserts.
  5. Limit fats. This is especially needed if you are watching out for weight gain. Choose only foods that are low-fat or fat-free.

Sample Lunch Meal Plan

In order to help you in your meal planning, here is a sample meal plan for lunch that you can also do one of these days:

  • 2 to 3 ounces of turkey (protein)
  • ½ cup of low-fat milk (protein and carbohydrates)
  • 1 small orange (vitamins and fiber)
  • Carrot sticks with lettuce and tomato (fiber and carbohydrates)
  • 2 pieces of wheat bread (starch carbohydrates)
  • 1 tablespoon of light mayonnaise (fat)

If you want to learn more on how to create a meal plan, you can subscribe to our newsletter on gestational diabetes and get 3 days of dinner meals and a great booklet about gestational diabetes.

Regular Exercise Can Help With Gestational Diabetes

In a post by News Medical, about Gestational Diabetes and Exercise, they talked about :

Regular moderate-intensity exercise during the second half of pregnancy can improve fetal and maternal outcomes for women who develop gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), show study findings, although the team notes that regular exercise did not significantly reduce the risk for developing GDM per se.

As reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Jonatan Ruiz (University of Granada, Spain) and colleagues assessed the benefits of an intervention promoting moderate exercise three times a week (50-55 min per session) from weeks 10-12 to weeks 38-39 of pregnancy versus usual care for 510 women who were initially healthy and diabetes free.

I usually encourage women to exercise, even just a little, especially after a meal.  It seems to help lower the blood sugar levels and improve the health outcomes, and now there is proof!  Now, regular exercise did not reduce the women’s chances of developing gestational diabetes, but it helped their blood sugar levels.  So, walking about an hour for 3 days a week – which is almost the same as the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week we give to non-pregnant persons, makes a difference.

Keep walking and keep working on your meal plan, using a good meal guide!
Exercise can help with gestational diabetes!