If you’re mothers-to-be and you actually are tempted by the thought: pregnancy diabetes diet. You will see numerous important material on that topic, as well as tips, assistance, experiences, and answers to help questions around carrying a child, right nutrition and diet habits.
Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is the second most important complication among pregnant women. It can be divided into two groups:
- Pregestational diabetes
- Gestational diabetes
GD is defined as carbohydrate intolerance with onset or first recognition in pregnancy. Approximately more than 3% of women develop gestational diabetes, and the incidence is increasing. Inadequate management and control of blood glucose levels can lead to complications not only for the pregnant woman, but also for the child.
In this article we are going to focus on the nutritional treatment of this pathology. The aim of this treatment is to achieve optimal maternal-fetal nutrition, which promotes good metabolic control and adequate weight gain, to ensure an uncomplicated delivery and a healthy newborn.
Weight gain during pregnancy
It is a myth that women should gain 1 kilo per month of pregnancy, weight gain is different from woman to woman and from pregnancy to pregnancy. It is necessary to make an individualized calculation of the same, which takes into account the weight and nutritional status at the beginning of pregnancy. It is essential to keep in mind that pregnancy is a period of great growth where nutritional demands increase, so it is never recommended that a woman has weight loss during pregnancy even if she is obese.
The nutritional needs of pregnant women with and without diabetes are similar. During this period, care must be taken with energy intake, macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats), and micronutrients (in pregnancy mainly calcium, iron and folic acid).
During pregnancy you should make a personalised calculation of the calories you should consume, which will increase with each trimester. However, it is important to note that meeting the nutritional requirement in pregnancy is not difficult and is achieved by incorporating: in the second trimester one more fruit and a small bread; and in the third trimester one more serving of dairy in the day to the healthy diet plan you are doing.
To ensure sufficient calcium intake, it is essential to consume 2 portions of dairy products until the second trimester of pregnancy and 3 portions in the third trimester, as the demand for the formation of the foetus’ skeleton increases during this period.
As for the iron needs, they double, so it is not possible to cover it with food alone. It is essential to consume foods rich in this mineral and a supplement that will be indicated by the doctor. Foods rich in iron are: meat, egg yolk, pasta and breads, beans and lentils, dark leafy vegetables (spinach, chard and string beans). In the case that any of these foods are consumed without being meat, it is recommended to consume vitamin C which improves the absorption of iron, so you should consume orange or juice of the same, tomato, lemon or broccoli, at the same time of meal.
The folic acid requirement is also difficult to meet with food alone, so pregnant women are supplemented with folic acid as soon as they plan or know they are pregnant. Foods rich in folic acid that should be consumed are: dark green vegetables (chard, spinach, string beans, and broccoli), orange, and lentils. Flour, bread and pasta are fortified with this micronutrient.
In general, diets for women with gestational diabetes are based on:
Fractionation: you should have 4 main meals and 2 snacks or more if necessary. Avoiding long periods of fasting, since the demand for glucose of the fetus can cause hypoglycemia or ketosis. Calories should be distributed throughout the day as follows:
- 15% breakfast
- 5% snack
- 30% lunch
- 15% snack
- 5% evening or mid-afternoon snack
- 30% dinner
High fiber intake: whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables, among other fiber-rich foods.
Restrict consumption of refined sugars: table sugar, foods and soft drinks that contain them.
Eat foods with a low glycemic index.
Restrict consumption of saturated fats and increase consumption of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats: pregnant women should consume 2 tablespoons of crude oil (soybean, canola, olive) and fish 1 or 2 times a week (preferably fatty fish such as tuna, sardines, permit, and catfish).
Sample three-day pregnancy diabetes diet menu plan
The snacks will depend on the values of glycemia, if in the morning you are with low values is recommended to make a snack in the morning, which can be a fruit or half a milk dessert (in this case the afternoon snack is reduced by half, consuming part in the afternoon and the other in the morning).
The plan should be adjusted periodically with a professional, taking into account weight gain, glycemias, preferences and difficulties encountered in complying with the plan.
Free consumption food
Raw leafy greens: lettuce, white or red cabbage, celery, watercress, spinach
Diet or unflavored gelatins
Diet jam: only for spreading on bread or biscuits
Infusions without sugar: clear tea, mate, malt coffee, herbal teas. It is recommended not to drink more than 2 cups of coffee, 4 cups of tea, 6 glasses of cola a day.
Unsweetened fruit broths (pear, apple, peach, plum)
Sparkling or still mineral water
Diet sodas: on special occasions
Fat-free vegetable or meat broth
Natural seasonings: lemon, vinegar, oregano, nutmeg, bay leaf, parsley, garlic, onion, bell pepper, basil, thyme, or saffron.
Foods that are not recommended during pregnancy diabetes diet
There are foods whose consumption is not recommended in gestational diabetes because they contain simple carbohydrates that are rapidly absorbed, such as: sugar, chocolates, candies, chocolate, whipped cream, custard, dulce de leche, quince or sweet potato jams, sponge cakes, sodas with sugar, ice cream, chocolate milk, dough, jams, honey, desserts with sugar.
Other foods not recommended because of the amount of fat are butter; margarine; fatty cuts of meat; sausages; offal and cold cuts; fried and sautéed foods; high-fat cheeses; and double cream.
Finally, exercise is part of the treatment of gestational diabetes. Within exercise, regular aerobic physical exercise is recommended, either walking or jogging, cycling, swimming, and moderate weight lifting. This allows insulin resistance to decrease and improves blood glucose control.
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