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Diabetes In Pregnancy

Nutrition Know How

Friday, November 8, 2013 - 13:10

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

In any pregnancy, it's important to eat the right foods to provide for you and your baby. Women with diabetes have added goals:

  • Emphasizing foods that help keep blood glucose normal
  • Preventing the buildup of ketones
  • Getting enough calories to support healthy weight gain

Meal planning during pregnancy can be challenging. A registered dietitian can teach you how to match your insulin doses with your food intake and activity level, so that your blood sugar remains stable. He or she can also help you meet your needs for vitamins and other key nutrients.

Pay special attention to:

  • Iron found in meat and poultry
  • Calcium in milk and dairy products
  • Folic acid in leafy green vegetables and yellow fruits

How Does Food Affect Blood Sugar?

Blood sugar sinks or soars depending on what you eat. Food is a mixture of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. While all three are part of a healthy diet, blood glucose comes mostly from the carbohydrates in your meals.

Carbohydrates are classified as:

  • Sugars - Includes table sugar as well as fruits, milk, and vegetables
  • Starches - Includes cereals, breads, peas, beans, lentils, and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, squash, and corn

All carbohydrates raise your blood sugar. Some raise it faster than others, depending on:

  • Whether food is raw or cooked
  • How much you eat
  • What other foods you eat at the same time
  • How fast you eat

Blood sugar tends to be highest after breakfast. Have two carbohydrate choices, such as a slice of toast and a cup of skim milk. A brisk 20-minute walk after breakfast can help prevent a rise in blood glucose.

What And How Much Should I Eat?

The healthiest approach to good nutrition during pregnancy is to eat a variety of foods. No single food provides all the calories and nutrients necessary to both ensure healthy weight gain and support your baby's growth. Your doctor and dietitian will help you devise a meal plan based on your weight, stage of pregnancy and food preferences.

Use the food pyramid as a guide:

How To Information:

Tips for Good Nutrition

  • Eat three small meals and two to three snacks throughout the day.
  • Do not skip meals or snacks.
  • Limit foods that are high in added sugar.
  • Choose low-fat dairy foods, lean cuts of meat and poultry, and low-fat cooking methods.
  • Never restrict calories without your doctor's approval.
  • Eat a small breakfast.
  • Choose fresh fruit or fruits canned without sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth.
  • Don't forget a bedtime snack, especially if you take insulin.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes.

What About Weight Gain?

Most women gain three to five pounds in the first three months of pregnancy and one-half to one pound each week after that. Gaining more than two pounds per week makes your body more resistant to insulin and raises your blood sugar level. Rapid weight gain in the last trimester could be an early sign of preeclampsia, or pregnancy-related high blood pressure.

Optimal weight gain depends on your weight before pregnancy.

If you were

You should gain

normal weight

25-30 pounds

Underweight

28- 36 pounds

Overweight

15-25 pounds

Need To Know:

Never try to lose weight without consulting your doctor first. If you are gaining too much, you can cut calories without depriving your baby by avoiding fatty foods.

Diabetes In Pregnancy