Once a woman begins her pregnancy journey, people start sharing advice about diet and lifestyle. Some of those tips are helpful and others are just myths that should be ignored. Some might tell you to avoid eating pineapple during pregnancy. Others might stress on eating for two. Yes, you need to keep an eye on the foods that you eat during pregnancy, especially if you have gestational diabetes. A study published in the National Library of Medicine revealed that in Southeast Asia, Malaysia had the highest prevalence of gestational diabetes at 18.3 percent followed by India at 13.6 percent. So, you must follow a gestational diabetes diet plan for a healthy pregnancy.
Health Shots consulted Dr Anurag Aggarwal, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad to get details about foods that pregnant women can eat if they have gestational diabetes.
What is gestational diabetes?
Expecting moms need to watch out as this is a form of diabetes that happens during pregnancy, typically around the 24th to 28th week. It is marked by high blood sugar levels, resulting from insulin resistance developed during pregnancy, explains Dr Aggarwal. Factors such as hormonal imbalances, genetic predisposition and excess weight can all lead to gestational diabetes. Turns out, women with gestational diabetes are at a higher risk of complications like cesarean delivery and the baby developing low blood sugar levels or jaundice.
Foods for gestational diabetes
The good news is that gestational diabetes usually resolves after childbirth. However, it requires careful management to safeguard both the mom and the baby’s health. So, let’s begin with foods that women with gestational diabetes can eat.
1. High-fiber foods
Whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables are excellent sources of dietary fiber, says the expert. These foods help to regulate blood sugar levels, promote satiety, and maintain stable energy levels throughout the day.
2. Lean proteins
Foods such as chicken, fish, tofu, and legumes provide essential nutrients while minimizing unhealthy fats. Proteins aid in stabilizing blood sugar levels and are crucial for the baby’s growth and development.
3. Healthy fats
Avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil are all examples of healthy fats that support overall health and help to control blood sugar levels. These fats promote a feeling of fullness, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce the risk of heart disease, says Dr Aggarwal.
4. Low-fat dairy products
Skim milk, low-fat yogurt, and cheese contain calcium, protein, and vitamin D, which are essential for the mother’s bone health and contribute to the baby’s growth.
5. Non-starchy vegetables
Broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, and bell peppers are low in carbohydrates and high in essential vitamins and minerals. These vegetables are ideal for maintaining a balanced diet and managing blood sugar levels effectively.
Skip these foods for a healthy pregnancy
If you have gestational diabetes, sugary beverages like sodas and sweetened drinks should be cut off from your diet. They all have high sugar content and can lead to quick spikes in blood sugar levels and provide empty calories, says the expert. You should also stop eating the following foods:
1. Refined carbohydrates
White bread, sugary cereals, pastries and processed snacks should be limited or completely avoided. These foods can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels and offer hardly any nutritional value.
2. Trans fats and saturated fats
Deep-fried foods, fatty cuts of meat and high-fat dairy products can increase the risk of insulin resistance and heart disease, says the expert.
3. Excessive salt
Try to stay away from foods with high sodium content such as canned soups, processed meats, and fast food. These foods can contribute to water retention and increase the risk of high blood pressure.
A balanced meal plan, which includes a variety of nutritious foods in appropriate portions, is the way to go. You should spread out meals and snacks evenly throughout the day so that stable blood sugar levels are maintained.