Nutrition Strategies for a Healthy Pregnancy with Gestational Diabetes
September 13, 2023
Discover effective gestational diabetes nutrition strategies and management tips, helping you ensure a healthy pregnancy and optimal outcomes!
There are health conditions that impact women specifically during pregnancy. One of the more common ones is gestational diabetes (GDM). GDM is characterized by high blood sugar levels due to the body not producing enough insulin to meet the increased demands during pregnancy.
Doctors will screen for GDM at the 24-28 weeks mark of pregnancy, and if diagnosed, it is important to seek the care of a Dietitian for support in managing the condition and avoid further complications. Proper nutrition management will directly work to manage blood sugar levels to significantly improve outcomes for both you and your baby.
General nutrition requirements are similar to those during pregnancy. Energy needs, carbohydrate, protein, and fat requirements all stay the same with a focus more on the quality and distribution of meals. Let’s discuss nutrition strategies for GDM:
- Monitoring blood glucose levels. With any type of diabetes, the goal is to maintain your blood sugar levels to avoid having super highs and super lows, frequently in the day. Take time to monitor your blood glucose levels as recommended by your doctor, keep a journal to track what you ate and how your levels responded. Start noticing patterns and how your body reacts to different foods and meals so you can best manage.
- Food Choices & Diet Quality. Keeping your blood glucose within range and preventing any spikes & crashes, requires focusing on eating balanced meals to allow for a slower digestion process. Balanced meals include:
- Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains like brown rice, beans and legumes like lentils, and/or starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes. Also focus on reducing intake of foods/drinks high in refined sugar.
- Foods rich in fiber like whole grains, legumes, fruits & vegetables. Fiber works to slow down the digestion process and with that is able to prevent major spikes in blood sugar levels, and keep you feeling fuller longer.
- Healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds are an essential part of the diet during pregnancy, providing important nutrients. They are also beneficial to our blood sugar levels after a meal.
- And lastly, your meal should always include a lean protein like poultry, fish, tofu, or legumes. In addition to being helpful in managing blood sugar levels, protein will keep you feeling satisfied and provide essential nutrition during pregnancy.
- Daily Meal Pattern. Another important element of managing your blood glucose levels is not only what you eat but how much and when. Create a meal schedule that works for you, aim to spread your meals out throughout the day – avoid extreme hunger or extreme fullness. Use your plate as a guide for how much to eat each meal. Consider using measuring cups and food scales too.
- Physical activity. Aim to include pregnancy-safe movement into your daily routine. Avoid too much sedentary time and focus on light movement after meals as a way to help control blood sugar levels. **Speak to your doctor about what is safe/allowed for you during this time**
Having to manage a condition like GDM on top of being pregnant, can be challenging. But with support and guidance from a Dietitian, as well as other healthcare professionals, you can create a personalized plan that works for you and properly manage and monitor your progress.
By making informed food choices, staying active, and following your healthcare provider’s guidance, you can optimize your health and the health of your baby. To learn more about what Dining With Nature offers – take a look at our Services page.