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Gestational Diabetes-Healthy diet

Gestational Diabetes – Advises for a healthy diet

Having gestational diabetes implies a daily control of the consumed food by wisely choosing which food is appropriate to keep the body healthy and the diabetes under control. By eating healthy, measuring regularly the glucose level in blood and doing exercise regularly it is less likely that the health care provider will prescribe medications. Further, it will be also less likely that mother and child suffer any kind of complications during birth and afterwards.

Advises for a healthy diet:

- Control the carbohydrates intake: Gestational Diabetes implies having a control of the consumed carbohydrates because the amount and type of carbohydrates (starches and natural sugar) present in the food affect the blood sugar level.

The first to do is to reduce the amount of carbohydrates in each meal e.g. a 40% of the daily calories should be carbohydrates. Try to eat high fibre carbohydrates because they are being digested slowly. Whole grain have a lot of fibre, therefore it is recommended to consume brown bread and brown rice instead of the white ones. In this way, the body will digest them using a longer period of time, which means that the sugar will get later into the blood.

Avoid food and beverages containing lots of additional sugar such as cakes, cookies, sweets, soft drinks and sodas. Sweeteners such as Nutrasweet and Equal and sucrose e.g. Splenda can be taken moderately. It is important to mention that 20% of the daily consumed food should be low fat proteins. This means that in order to have a healthy protein intake, the consumed fish, beef and milk products should be low fat.

Further, 40% of the consumed calories should come from healthy fat (unsaturated fat) such as olive oil. Saturated fat (animal based food) such as butter, fatty cheese, bacon, fatty meat and trans fats (hydrogenated) should be avoided. These are mainly found in processed food. Food makers use trans fats to enhance taste and texture and make foods last longer. Some examples include frozen pizza and biscuits, fried food, microwave popcorn, desserts. Last, read the labels in each product and look for 'partially hydrogenated oils'. They are also a hidden source of trans fats.

- Maintain stable the blood glucose level: In order to maintain stable the blood glucose level, special attention should be paid to how and when the food is consumed. This means the blood sugar level must be stable and avoid an increase in sugar. In case of medication intake, this aspect results more important. This can be achieved by eating a small amount of protein in each meal such as whole wheat oat with an egg or yoghurt. In this way an increase in sugar can be prevented. It is not recommended to eat cereals or oat in the box because they are digested quicker and turn into glucose quicker too.

Further, to maintain stable the blood sugar level it is important to eat every three hours. Eating daily three small meals and three to four healthy snacks inbetween will help to regulate the blood sugar level. Before sleeping it is also recommended to eat a small snack to avoid a decrease in the blood sugar level. Avoiding increases in blood sugar level will make sure that mother and baby are having a healthy diet and the diabetes is under control.

- Choose food with low glycemic index (GI): The Glycemic index classifies carbohydrates based on the speed, in which they release energy in form of glucose. Knowing the GI of each food can help to plan meals during pregnancy. Food with a low glycemic index release energy in a sustainable way. Since they are digested slowly and also converted into glucose slowly, food with low GI are less likely to cause an increase in sugar and therefore blood sugar levels can be kept under control.

It is important to mention that the GI can be affected by several issues such as the manufacturing process, the combination of ingredients, the maturity and the amount of time, that was used to cook them. The longer the time was needed to cook them, the higher the GI. Food with high GI are dangerous because they are full of carbohydrates and added sugar.

Food with low GI include: fruits such as apple, orange, pear, peach, mango; vegetables such as brocoli, green beans, peas, sweet potato, lettuce, cabagge and carrots. Legumes such as beans, lentils and chickpeas, whole wheat rice, whole wheat oat, whole wheat oat based cereals, oat bran, multigrain bread and rye bread. Food with high GI include: fruit juice, cereal in the package, pizza, soft beverages, white bread, white rice, brown skin potato (russet potato), pasta and oat in the package, salty crackers, white rice crackers and pretzels.