Managing Gestational Diabetes

Following on from my post about being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes I thought I would tell you a bit more about the problem itself.

Gestational Diabetes (GD) is a type of diabetes that some women can develop during their pregnancy.  During pregnancy the body needs extra insulin, a hormone that controls the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood.  With GD, your body does not produce enough insulin so your blood glucose is too high.  This can cause problems for both mum and baby, as the extra blood glucose can cause the baby to grow too large and subsequently make delivery more difficult.

Healthy eating can control blood glucose levels and it is normally recommended that dietary changes and keeping active can control GD, although sometimes, and in my case, you need additional insulin to treat it.

8 Steps to Eating well with Gestational Diabetes

  1. Limit sugar and sugary foods and drinks – drink water, low calorie squash or diet drinks and don’t add sugar to tea and coffee.  Limit fruit juice, smoothies and milk shakes to one small glass a day and choose wholegrain cereals for breakfast.  Desserts for treats only!!
  2. Avoid Large Meals – It is a fact that large meals increase your blood glucose level
  3. Eat three regular meals a day – Spreading the food eaten during the day can prevent large changes in blood glucose levels
  4. Choose healthy snacks – Snacks can be nutritious – choose raw vegetable sticks, natural yoghurt, Dried fruit and nuts, a small portion of fresh fruit, low fat crisps, twiglets or popcorn etc
  5. Eat 5 a day – servings of vegetables, salad and fruit.  I have swapped potatoes for sweet potato, green veg is fine but Grapes, Apples and Oranges are very high in natural sugar!
  6. Drink plenty of fluids – but sugar free as point 1
  7. Test you blood glucose – aim to be under 7.5mmol/l
  8. Keep a food diary – that way you will know what your triggers are and you can see how your food choice and meal pattern affect your blood glucose.
One of the things that surprised me most was the sugar content of some foods you buy everyday at the supermarket.  Most packaging now contains information about the sugar content and some even has a traffic light system to display it.  High Sugar content (> 15g per 100g) is Red / Low Sugar Content (  Sugars can also be listed by different names – Sucrose, Glucose, Fructose, Dextrose, Honey, Syrup, Invert Sugar and Malt Extract – so you have to be vigilant!
It isn’t just sugars to look out for though – starchy foods can increase your blood sugar too.  This is because Starch is a type of carbohydrate that is digested into sugars.  Foods that contain Starch are  – Pizza, Pasta, Noodles, biscuits, crackers and pastry.  the advice is to choose wholegrain or wholemeal varieties of starchy foods as they are a good source of fibre.
The best diet to follow to help with GD is The GI (Glycaemic Index) Diet.  Foods with a low GI contain slowly absorbed carbohydrate, which can help prevent blood glucose levels increasing quickly after a meal.  As well as improving the blood glucose levels, low GI foods help you feel fuller for longer so can help with weight control.  In fact, with my last two pregnancies I put on no extra weight (always a bonus).
Low GI food include:  Oats, muesli, porridge, Multigrain bread, pasta, lentils, beans and peas.  Most supermarkets do help and label their foods based on GI too!
My first week of testing has gone quite well.  I have had a couple of high readings, but mostly I have kept well within the target levels I have been set.  I keep glucose tablets with me, in case my blood sugar levels get too low, which is a really horrible feeling – you get hot, sweaty and shaky, but thankfully it has all been OK so far.
I will keep you posted………..

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