Gestational diabetes is, as the name of this condition suggests, a complication discovered during pregnancy, in approximately 5% of women. It appears, most often, suddenly and many expectant mothers feel extremely worried and perhaps totally lost because of this news.
The condition can have consequences for both the mother and the fetus. Most commonly, the diabetes will disappear after birth. In 75% of cases, a specific diet will be enough to regulate the blood sugar level and prevent other risks. Only in 25% of cases is a treatment needed to balance the blood sugar level. And paying more attention to your diet and lifestyle for a few months doesn’t require much effort compared to the rest of your life. Here’s what you need to know about the lifestyle that can keep gestational diabetes under control.
Why does gestational diabetes occur?
The disease occurs either in women who had an unknown diabetes until it manifested itself during pregnancy, or in those who develop it only during this period, the condition disappearing after birth. However, there is still a significant risk of around 30% that within 10 years of giving birth, the mother will develop type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes occurs when the pancreas, which now has to provide twice as much insulin, does not do so properly, and thus hyperglycemia occurs. Among the symptoms are intense thirst, the desire to urinate frequently, profusely and severe fatigue. Screening for gestational diabetes it is done at the end of the second trimester of pregnancy, based on the oral glucose tolerance test.
The risks associated with diabetes are hypertension, premature, difficult or caesarean delivery and the appearance of edema in the case of the mother, macrosomia and neonatal hypoglycemia in the case of the baby.
Lifestyle rules in gestational diabetes
There are some principles that must be respected in the case of the diet in gestational diabetes and which are relatively simple to apply. A balanced and varied diet – it sounds like a rule to be applied throughout life, but in the case of diabetes, it is essential for regulating blood sugar levels. The diet generally recommended in diabetes is preferable even now, but, in the context of pregnancy, there are some particularities to consider:
Three main meals a day and one to three snacks are recommended, depending on blood sugar levels. The three meals will be essential to properly distribute the consumption of carbohydrates (sugar) throughout the day and will bring the energy, vitamins and minerals that the pregnant woman needs.
It is recommended not to skip meals, because this behavior can favor the occurrence of hypoglycemia.
Breakfast is particularly important, because overnight the body has gone through a long period of fasting. Carbohydrate intake is essential to restore blood sugar levels and prevent possible hypoglycemia. Foods containing sugars are recommended, but it is preferable to maintain a stable blood sugar level.
If you ate more carbohydrates at lunch, don’t trick your body by eating only a little soup or salad in the evening, because there are large variations in blood sugar that can have effects for several days.
If the blood sugar level at the three meals remains high, then it will be necessary to divide the amount of carbohydrates. For example, a small amount – a slice of bread – can be moved 2-3 hours later and eaten together with a sweet dairy product or a handful of oilseeds.
Whole grains – bread, rice, pasta – are recommended to better control blood sugar levels. These products are richer in fiber and help to slow down the assimilation of carbohydrates, the carbohydrates being distributed gradually.
Physical activity is recommended for all pregnant women, and in case of gestational diabetes, it is an excellent way to regulate blood sugar. With the doctor’s approval, you can do moderate physical activities, such as swimming, special gymnastics for pregnant women, yoga, pilates and even long walks, of at least 30 minutes, three times a week.
Small pleasures are allowed, but occasionally, and the amounts of carbohydrates during meals must be adjusted accordingly. Also, weight gain must be progressive and adapted. In case of an excess, an attempt will be made to maintain that weight.
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