Lifestyle diseases like diabetes have gained popularity as silent killers and carriers as well. The person affected cannot escape its grasp for rest of their lives, nor can they (general public) afford to bear the soaring costs of treatment. The situation gets worse in case of pregnant women who have been diagnosed with diabetes before. Pregnancy brings back this silent killer in form of gestational diabetes, which puts both the mother and infant’s life at stake in form of many medical complications. These are difficult to manage as compared to diabetes in normal stages, and require some planning ahead for effective management.
Although many physicians may recommend a lot of drugs for management, these come with their own set of side effects, which in long run worsens the health of both mother and infant. A more effective strategy is by regulation of diet; not a special one, but a normal balanced diet for gestational diabetes.
A diet for gestational diabetes can be described on lines of management only, and on lines of searching for a cure. Pregnancy can cause stored glycogen to interfere with normal insulin action, leading to this form of diabetes. The first stage requires a careful planning about the lifestyle and diet, and then shaping it to one which is in line with recommender calorie intakes on a daily basis.
- Glucose forms the backbone of our energy supplies; however, stored glycogen in our body interfering with normal glucose production (glycogen is another rich source of glucose) leads to excessive glucose production. The logical step is to curb down the intake of high carbohydrate foods, and rely on slow release, low carbohydrate, high fiber food, which delay digestion process. This diet is highly effective in checking blood sugar levels. Brown rice, rolled oatmeal and sweet potatoes can be used in your diet instead of white rice or regular potatoes.
- Glucose may also find entry in your diet in form of regular sugars like dessert. Though these foods are generally not recommended, you can still have them in significantly less quantities.
- An unknown amount of sugars make their way through alcoholic beverages and soft drinks. Cocktails, which employ a mixing liquid may contain on a whole lot of sugars than the alcoholic drinks themselves. It is often advised to curb alcohol consumption in cases of pregnancy; in case of gestational diabetes, this takes a more rigid form. Alcoholic drinks by itself can cause some irreversible damage to the infants, and if coupled with gestational diabetes, the situation gets frightening.
- A protein rich diet consisting of green veggies (raw, mildly cooked or roasted) is recommended, as proteins form the second biggest source of energy after carbohydrates, though proteins have a much less calorific value compared to carbohydrates. Animal proteins in form of lean meats can be consumed in limited quantities; other sources like fish and yogurt contribute to safe protein supplements.
- Dietary fats, though necessary, are recommended to be avoided in cases of gestational diabetes. Fats by itself are notorious for posing problems for human circulatory system; combine its effects with gestational diabetes, and a full blown system disorder will occur. However, fats from natural sources like nuts and seeds can be beneficial if included with normal diet, as fats tend to delay the process of digestion.
- Physicians often choose an index called Glycaemic index for measuring the amount of glucose released in blood with respect to time. Foods having high glycaemic index tend to release glucose at a much faster pace. These foods like cornflakes, baked potato, bread etc, are placed out of diet for gestational diabetes. Instead, foods with low Glycaemic value like sweetcorn, apples, peaches, porridge and beans & lentils are recommended.
All these are just an indication of how the diet should be managed. Another significant part is the time of meals, which should be fixed. It is recommended to take lesser quantities of food over short intervals, rather than taking huge quantities over longer intervals. Skipping of meals forces stored glycogen to cope up with sudden fall in blood glucose levels, which in turn increases rapidly, once the next meal is taken. Thus, gestational diabetes management requires a set of concrete steps and a bit of management skills.