by Elisa Olivier-Nielsen, MA, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, EON Consulting
Gestational diabetes is one of the complications that can happen during pregnancy when blood glucose (sugar) levels are higher than normal. Pregnant women are usually screened at 24 to 28 weeks gestation during regular prenatal care visits.
Gestational diabetes can cause certain complications for both the mother and baby, so close monitoring by the health care team is a must to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
The risk factors of gestational diabetes include:
- Being older than 25.
- Having had a previous pregnancy with gestational diabetes.
- Having had a baby weighing over 9 pounds.
- Being overweight or obese prior to getting pregnant.
- Having a family history of diabetes.
- Being African American, Hispanic, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.
Management of gestational diabetes involves:
1. Following a balanced, healthy diet.
2. Not skipping meals.
3. Engaging in regular physical activity.
4. Checking blood sugar levels daily and at different times during the day.
5. Taking insulin as prescribed by your doctor.
- Become familiar with foods that provide carbohydrates.
- Follow a recommended meal plan that outlines how many carbohydrates to eat per meal/ snack.
- Choose high-quality carbohydrates.
- Eat every 3 to 4 hours.
Combine protein and fat with carbohydrates, making sure there is protein with every meal. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Avoid: processed foods, baked foods, spicy and sugary foods, alcoholic beverage and too much salt.
And, make your snacks count. Instead of having potato chips, cookies, ice cream or candy, choose an apple with peanut butter, vegetables and hummus, whole grain chips, Greek yogurt and granola, light popcorn, etc.