Below is a recommended diet for gestational diabetes. In addition, we have discussed the necessity of food classes such as carbs, proteins and fats. While carbs should not be eliminated from the diet, they should be consumed in moderation.
To get the best possible diet, however, consult with your doctor or a dietician. Do not consume any of the foods recommended here in case you are allergic or unsure. Always verify your proposed diet with a qualified doctor.
Part of a healthy diet for gestational diabetes includes carbohydrates, but only a minimum amount. Avoid a high carbohydrate meal as it can cause a spike in sugar levels. However, you can consume complex carbohydrates from foods like beans, whole grains, vegetables and substitute carbs with lean meat.
Carbohydrates provide a person with energy, but the excess is stored in the body as fats. Foods like milk, yoghurt, rice, grains, cereals, pasta, potatoes, corn, yam, peas, etc., are foods rich in carbs. Your baby will need the energy from carbohydrates, so you cannot exclude carbs totally from your diet.
Fresh fruits can be eaten in moderation to maintain a good gestational diabetes diet. Berries are a good fruit choice because they are low in sugar and high in fibre. Fruits like apples, oranges, grapefruit, and tangerines too, are also good options.
Moreover, consume whole fruits and not fruit juices because they are rich in fibre. For example, citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, while other fruits like apples and avocado are rich in vitamin A, B, etc.
Fresh vegetables, either consumed raw or cooked, are a great source of fibre, minerals and vitamins. Vegetables also play an important role in keeping the digestive system running well. However, some vegetables like potatoes, corn, carrots and peas are high in starch. These may raise blood sugar levels.
Vegetables are also known as fibrous carbohydrates and should be consumed al dente or raw for the best intake of nutrients for a gestational diabetes diet.
Proteins are a vital component of the diet for gestational diabetes during pregnancy. In addition, lean proteins from chicken, fish, turkey, low-fat dairy and eggs are a vital source of amino acids, which are the building blocks of life.
Moreover, proteins help you to feel full and can even help reduce morning sickness. These foods are also a source of B vitamins, iron and zinc. Hence, do not cut back on these minerals, which are highly necessary for foetal growth, development and metabolism.
Low Glycaemic Foods
Low glycaemic foods release sugar slowly. The body breaks these foods down gradually than it does for high glycaemic foods.
Therefore, these foods are ideal for a gestational diabetes diet in which glucose needs to be released moderately rather than all at once.
Foods with a low glycaemic index are beans, lentils, chickpeas, apples, oranges, grapefruit, peaches and pears. All these foods release sugar into the blood slowly, hence keeping the sugar levels stable. You can enjoy the benefits of low glycaemic foods from non-starchy and starchy vegetables.
Nuts, such as peanuts and almonds, are a great way to gain many natural fats and proteins. They are also consumed as gestational diabetes food "pairs." When you consume these foods with carbohydrates, they slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream. Hence, consume them raw, toasted or as nut butter.
Any form of protein is considered "safe" for gestational diabetes diets. 50% of proteins take around 2-5 hours to turn into glucose, so you feel full for longer. Therefore, plant-based proteins are a good option for vegan moms-to-be.
Nuts, seeds, quinoa, lentils, beans and soya milk are some of the plant proteins that you can try out.
Starchy vegetables like corn, beets, peas and carrots help provide the much-needed bulk to a meal. They are a good source of vital nutrients like minerals and vitamins. These vegetables should be prepared fresh and not consumed from a can.
Consuming these vegetables in partly cooked form or raw form helps the body to absorb more nutrients. Fully cooked vegetables digest faster and leave you hungry sooner.
This vital food group helps in the development of the brain and vital organs of the baby. In addition, they are good for blood cholesterol levels. Nut oils like sesame, olive and sunflower oil are a good source of mono-unsaturated fats. Another source of unsaturated fats is poly-unsaturated fats. These fats come from soybeans, walnuts, oily fish and tofu.
Wholegrain Bread and Cereals
Bread and cereals need not be eliminated from the diet. However, they need to be consumed in moderation. Small amounts may be consumed at each meal. However, the portions should be limited to one large slice of wholegrain bread or three tablespoons of rice or a fist-sized baked potato.