“I am 12 weeks pregnant and my father and all his siblings have Diabetes, so I am worried about getting gestational diabetes. What changes do I make to avoid getting Gestational Diabetes?”
Diabetes is a common condition afflicted to many. But Gestational Diabetes may be a new term to many. In simple words, it means developing high blood sugars during pregnancy. It is said to commonly affect 3-10% of pregnancies. This can either mean undetected diabetes and or diabetes developed during pregnancy.
What are the risk factors for Gestational Diabetes?
- Family history of Type 2 diabetes or Gestational diabetes.
- Being overweight,obese before and during pregnancy or excess weight gain during pregnancy
- Maternal age-Pregnancies above 35 years of age.
- Excessive stress
- Wrong eating habits during pregnancy
It can also occur due to hormonal changes that occur in a woman during pregnancy.
Now how can you prevent GD and enjoy a safe pregnancy?
It has always been advised to plan a pregnancy as one can get physically as well as mentally ready. Physically, healthy weight changes if overweight or obese and changes in eating habits are always advised. But as most of the pregnancies are unplanned, women after 5-6 months of pregnancy are asked to under go a Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT).
If the GTT comes high, then a lot of risk factors need to be altered.
Although weight loss is strictly prohibited, weight maintenance is required. A healthy diet and a regular exercise routine is very important.
The main concern in GD are the carbohydrates as the have the greatest impact on blood sugar. Hence it is very important to eat the same amount of carbohydrates in every meal along with some protein and fat. A healthy diet should contain whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat products, ragi, bajra, jowar, oats and pulses and legumes such as bengal gram (channa), Kidney beans (rajma), green gram(moong), sprouts etc.
Include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid refined sugars such as maida, fruit juices and lower your intake of sugar and fat. Completely avoid junk food such as hamburgers, pizzas, chips, cookies, coke which are completely unhealthy for your blood sugars and bad for your baby.
Eat enough protein by including milk and milk products and other protein sources such as lean meat like chicken, eggs and fish. Refer to what not to eat during pregnancy for further information.
Increase your calcium intake by including soya milk, low fat milk, cheese(yes, it is allowed), peanut butter, green leafy vegetables etc.
Iron too is very crucial. Hence include eggs, lean meat, fish and green leafy vegetables.
A few guidelines for healthy eating during GD:
- Eat 3 small meals and 2-3 snacks in between. Do not skip meals. Try to eat on time as much as possible. This will prevent sugar spikes.
- Completely avoid alcohol. No amount of alcohol is safe.
- Caffeine too should be limitted. Stick to not more than 2 cups of coffee per day.
- Do not try to “diet” or try to eat very less, to bring about changes in your weight and blood sugars.
- Determine your weight gain with your doctor. He/She will help you with your weight gain in regard to your pre-pregnancy weight.
- Work out a diet plan with a competant dietitian who will help you to eat healthy.
- Eat a variety of foods.
- Keep a record of your food intake.
Last but not the least. Exercise!!!! Walking is the safest exercise, so walk for at-least 30 minutes daily. A healthy diet and regular exercise can do wonders to you and to your baby.