Are you a mother-to-be affected by gestational diabetes? You should know that the causes can be diverse: you have tended to put on a lot of weight from the first few months, you have frequent sweet cravings, you snack and have big cravings… and it is difficult to contain yourself in front of a packet of chocolate biscuits… It is not too late to take charge and adopt a healthier diet and better eating habits for yourself and your future little one.
What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes, also called “pregnancy diabetes”, occurs in pregnant women towards the end of the second trimester. It can last for the duration of the pregnancy or be a sign of previous diabetes. It is a disorder of carbohydrate tolerance that leads to more or less severe hyperglycaemia. You should therefore check your blood sugar level before and after each meal.
How do you do this in practice? Here are our dietary tips.
Tip 1: Eat complete meals
No question of eating on the run! To give yourself the best chance of managing your diabetes, it is important to take time to eat and enjoy a full meal. Include protein, vegetables and a little starch to keep you going. It is really necessary to ensure that your meals are well balanced to avoid major fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Anticipate your meals to provide all the nutrients you need and avoid cravings for sugary foods between meals.
Tip 2: Vegetables, vegetables and more vegetables
Vegetables are foods you should not forget during your pregnancy. They are excellent for regulating your blood sugar levels and slow down the absorption of glucose thanks to the fibre they contain. They will also help you to feel full with fewer calories. Perfect when you want to control your weight gain and balance your blood sugar levels. Ideally, you should opt for organically grown products to avoid exposure to potentially harmful substances as much as possible.
Tip 3: The importance of animal or vegetable proteins
In order to be better satisfied, include a protein food at each meal: meat, fish, eggs, legumes, etc. These foods will allow you to meet your needs and also to fight against fatigue. Include a source of protein at lunch and dinner if you feel the need. In fact, your protein needs increase as your baby grows, particularly from the 4th month of pregnancy.
Tip 4: Choose foods with a low and moderate Glycaemic Index (GI)
Is the glycaemic index a bit vague for you? Don’t panic, to understand everything about the glycaemic index, click here. Low and moderate GI foods have the advantage of not raising your blood sugar too quickly. Here are some examples of the main food families: vegetables, protein foods (meat, fish, unprocessed eggs of course), unrefined starches (wholemeal pasta, wild rice, quinoa, brown bread, etc.), legumes, dairy products with no added sugar, oleaginous fruits (almonds, walnuts) and certain fruits (clementines, peaches, pears, apples, oranges, grapefruits, red fruits, etc.). You have the choice!
Tip 5: Do some physical activity every day
Don’t worry, we’re not talking about running a marathon! On the other hand, even when you are pregnant and if you have no contraindications from your doctor, it is possible to do some gentle physical activity every day. We can imagine you, with your round belly, moving around in the pool, for example. You can also simply walk every day at your own pace for 30 to 40 minutes. Physical activity will allow you to make better use of the energy provided by your meals and optimise the function of insulin, the hormone that regulates your blood sugar levels. One of the recommendations is to check your blood sugar regularly. Your blood sugar level should remain between 0.90 and 1.40 g/l.
If, despite your best efforts, you are unable to reach your blood sugar targets, you should consult a professional dietician-nutritionist, who will be able to advise you. Are you ready? It’s up to you!
French Federation of Diabetics. My pregnancy with gestational diabetes. https://www.federationdesdiabetiques.org/diabete/diabete-femme/diabete-gestationnel
French Federation of Diabetics. My physical activity during pregnancy. https://www.federationdesdiabetiques.org/diabete/diabete-femme/diabete-gestationnel
Nathalie Pirson, Dominique Maiter, Orsalia Alexopoulou. Management of gestational diabetes in 2016: a review of the literature. Endocrinology and nutrition