Nourishing Choices for Managing Gestational Diabetes

A diagnosis of gestational diabetes requires adherence to a healthy, low-carbohydrate diet. Sometimes it’s hard to understand, contain and follow all the instructions and that’s exactly what we’re here for. Our nutritionists explain everything to you: what are the recommended foods, what to stay away from, how to eat and how much and how to behave after giving birth

Many pregnant women in the world are diagnosed with gestational diabetes. If you are one of them and have just been diagnosed, you may feel confusion and stress combined with feelings of guilt. It’s time to take a deep breath, learn about the nutritional treatment that does most of the work and even how the new situation you’ve found yourself in is a kind of advantage for you in the future.

Gestational diabetes: why does it happen?
Insulin is a hormone that is secreted by the pancreas and brings sugar into the cells in a process that requires the cooperation of the cells. In the second half of pregnancy, all women secrete different hormones that cause the body’s cells to not respond effectively to insulin.

When the sugar enters the cells, its level in the blood decreases but when your cells become “resistant” to insulin, the sugar level remains high and the pancreas mobilizes to secrete more insulin.

In fact, at the end of pregnancy you should produce 3 times more insulin than at the beginning. There are women who fail to produce all the necessary amount of insulin for a variety of reasons – these are the women who develop gestational diabetes.

The nutritional treatment
The diet is the heart of the treatment of gestational diabetes, because it is the main influence on the sugar level. Therefore, it is very important to see a dietician as close as possible to the time you were diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

In about 70% to 85% of cases, the nutritional treatment alone is enough to balance the sugar level and treat gestational diabetes. In about a quarter of the cases, drug treatment or an insulin injection is necessary, but even then it is important to maintain the menu.

What to do
In a situation where the body does not produce the full amount of insulin needed, it is important to switch to a diet where the amount of carbohydrates is reduced at each meal, to allow the body to “get by” with the amount of insulin it has. However, it is important to continue eating carbohydrates and not omit them from the menu completely – the reason: too low consumption of carbohydrates can lead to the creation of substances called ketones which have a negative effect on the neurological development of the fetus.

In a situation where changing the menu is not enough to balance the sugar levels, you need to inject insulin or take a drug that increases insulin secretion from the pancreas.

What, how much and when you should eat
It is important to eat foods that lead to a slow rise in blood sugar. Among the foods rich in carbohydrates are recommended:

whole grains

  • Whole wheat (wheat grains or bulgur or whole semolina or whole pasta) and whole wheat breads.
  • Whole grain breads such as whole rye and whole wheat.
  • Oatmeal.
  • corn.
  • Buckwheat.
  • quinoa
  • millet and more.

And what about rice? Since brown rice may contain more arsenic than white rice, it is best to minimize the consumption of brown rice in general. There is no objection to eating basmati rice in a small amount.

Legumes

  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • A pea
  • Chickpeas
  • Soya
  • Libya
  • From fire
  • Lupine and more

Whole grains and legumes are richer in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber that allow for a slower rise in blood sugar, and a better feeling of satiety. The dietician will adjust the amounts of grains and legumes in the menu for you personally.

Combining grains and carbohydrates also improves the value of protein in the diet.

Additional recommended foods
vegetables
Most vegetables are low in carbohydrates and it is recommended to eat a variety of them, in all colors and ways of cooking. It is recommended to eat about 7 servings of vegetables during the day. A serving of vegetables is defined as a cup (240 milliliters), fresh cut vegetables or half a cup of cooked vegetables. Carrots, beets, onions, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes contain slightly more carbohydrates, so it’s worth limiting their amount at each meal.

fruits
All fruits are rich in sugar, so they should be included in the menu according to your dietitian’s instructions. In most cases, you can eat 2 servings of fruit a day, but not both at once. Portion of fruit – about 150 grams of net fruit. The dietician will guide you in what is defined as a portion of fruit.

Eating fruit in combination with a handful of almonds or nuts allows for a slower rise in blood sugar, as the fat from the almonds and nuts slows down the emptying of the stomach.

Foods rich in fat
The amount of carbohydrates in nuts and various seeds is negligible, and you should include them in the menu, taking into account their high caloric value. Other sources of healthy fats that should be included in the menu: olive oil, avocado, raw tahini and canola oil.

In this area too, you should adjust the amount of fat in the menu in consultation with the dietitian to keep your weight within the recommended limit.

Foods rich in protein
Chicken, beef, fish and eggs do not contain carbohydrates but can affect sugar levels.

dairy products

Niger milk contains the milk sugar, lactose, so it is important to consume it according to the menu you will receive from the dietician. Cheeses such as cottage cheese, white cheese, labneh and natural yogurt are desirable and can be combined on a daily basis.

And what about cereal? It is better to avoid them because it is a highly processed food and high in sugar and as such it quickly raises the blood sugar level.

And what is recommended to download from the menu?
Sugary drinks such as: carbonated drinks, juices (including natural juices) and black beer.

It is also recommended to avoid foods that cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels, such as sweets and sweets, cakes and sweet pastries, sugar (including brown sugar, demerara sugar or coconut sugar), maple syrup, agave syrup, honey, jam (even if it is without added sugar) and silane.

when to eat and how much
To allow the body to deal with the amount of carbohydrates in the menu, it is important to spread it throughout the day in small meals. It is customary to recommend six meals: three main meals (morning, lunch and dinner) and three intermediate meals (between morning and noon, afternoon and dinner).

However, this is not necessarily what will suit you personally, so it is recommended that you receive the composition of the meals that will be tailored to you personally by the dietitian and according to the sugar levels you monitor during the day, according to the rate of weight gain and according to the stage of pregnancy. It is important to consider the amount of carbohydrates in meals, the type of carbohydrates and their distribution throughout the day.

There is a menu! What now?
Now it is important to follow up to make sure that the menu manages to balance the sugar levels and if changes are necessary. The follow-up includes an accurate recording of each meal and measurement of the sugar level on the device two hours after it, according to the doctor’s instructions, and of course the fasting sugar level, upon getting up in the morning. After about a week or two, you can tell if the menu alone is enough to balance the sugar or if it is necessary to add insulin treatment or an oral pill.

And after giving birth can you go back to sweets?
After giving birth, at a good time, some women experience a mental “stress drop”. After long weeks of being careful about what you ate and closely monitoring it, all you feel like doing is eating everything that was forbidden until now, and a lot, maybe even of the delicious foods you were given in abundance.

It is important to remember that even though the sugar returns to normal levels within a few days after giving birth, you are still 7 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in the near future (only 7 to 10 years after giving birth) compared to a woman who did not have gestational diabetes.

The diabetes that appeared during pregnancy can serve as a reminder for you to maintain a healthy diet and physical activity for life, thus minimizing the risk of diabetes in the future and perhaps even in the next pregnancy.

All women who had gestational diabetes should go through a 75 gram sugar load within 6 to 12 weeks of giving birth, as well as check the sugar levels before the next pregnancy. It is important to be monitored by a dietician even after giving birth; Regular monitoring will help you achieve your goals and keep you healthy for a long time.

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