Real food for gestational diabetes
What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is usually defined as the diabetes that develops or is first diagnosed during pregnancy. However, it can also be defined as “insulin resistance” or “carbohydrate intolerance” during pregnancy.
Rely on the latter explanation because at the end of the day gestational diabetes is the result of insulin resistance, meaning that a woman cannot tolerate large amounts of carbohydrates without experiencing high blood sugar. Technically all women experience some resistance to insulin during pregnancy because it is a natural metabolic change that works to transfer glucose and nutrients to the developing baby. This means that even if you have not been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, it is helpful to know how and why your metabolism changes during pregnancy (and how dietary changes can ensure your baby’s health) can help).
From a biological point of view, low insulin resistance is very important because it allows the baby to survive even if the pregnant woman is experiencing famine or short-term starvation. However, in our modern world where food is scarce and refined carbohydrates are everywhere, this adaptation can work against us. This is especially true if a woman has a certain level of insulin resistance before pregnancy, which becomes more common.
Real food for gestational diabetes
Carbohydrate restriction is not the only diet that women need for gestational diabetes. Food should be thoroughly researched and not just one part. In addition, there are many types of carbohydrates and some are better than others.
Here’s a look at what the gestational diabetes diet should look like:
Most women need 80+ grams of protein per day for a healthy pregnancy. Protein helps regulate blood sugar and is essential for the baby’s growth. Healthy sources of protein include fried eggs, meat / poultry, butter, wild caught fish, and gelatin or collagen (preferably from bone marrow).
Consuming enough fat is vital for a baby’s organs and brain development and is important for regulating blood sugar. Healthy sources include meat (including red meat), butter, eggs, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, limited dairy and more.
Vegetables and fruits:
Vegetables and fruits contain a variety of vitamins, minerals and fiber that are beneficial during pregnancy. Fiber is especially important in regulating blood sugar.
Drinking enough water supports the increase in blood volume that occurs during pregnancy as well as replenishes amniotic fluid. But it is also useful in regulating blood sugar. Water lowers the amount of sugar in the bloodstream. Around a gallon, one day is a good rule of thumb.
Moderate and low carbohydrates from healthy sources – Carbohydrates from healthy sources such as sweet potatoes and other starchy vegetables are fine. However, if you need to limit carbohydrates further, stick with non-starchy vegetables, which also provide carbohydrates. Anything with a high glycemic load (such as fruit juice or anything with extra sugar) should be avoided altogether (not just during pregnancy!).
The number of carbohydrates that every woman should eat varies. A good way to find out what is right for you is to follow your blood sugar level throughout the day on your regular diet. Then you can sort by what you find. One way to track the types of foods you eat is to create a meal plan that will help you plan a healthy meal and can help you remember what you ate recently.
How is gestational diabetes managed?
The primary treatment for gestational diabetes is diet and exercise. When these two are not enough to bring blood sugar levels back to normal, a woman may need insulin or medication.
Many women make dietary changes instead of controlling their gestational diabetes, instead of going for medication (and many doctors feel the same way). Unfortunately, traditional nutritional counseling for gestational diabetes is often not enough.
Any type of pregnancy disorder can cause some anxiety. No one wants to have gestational diabetes. But taking precautions and taking the first steps to help prevent gestational diabetes can help you avoid blood sugar issues during and after pregnancy.