What is Gestational Diabetes?

A diagnosis of gestational diabetes (GD) often comes with a lot of fear.

This feeling is completely justified.

Having GD means that your blood sugar is too high during your pregnancy, which can happen for a variety of reasons. Blood sugar needs to be strictly managed in order to protect you and your baby from adverse health outcomes. Navigating GD is a real learning curve for some.

However – it honestly could be the best thing to happen to you.

Having a very tangible reason to modify your diet and lifestyle can set you and your family up for positive health outcomes for the rest of your life. So really, you could consider it a blessing in disguise.

The main factor in GD management is keeping blood sugars balanced. Carbohydrates are the only type of food that directly affect blood sugar, so it’s important to focus on moderating the amount and type of carbohydrates consumed.

Realistically, the dietary recommendations for someone with diabetes are pretty much the same as those for anyone wanting to improve their health – low GI carbohydrates, plenty of vegetables and good sources of lean proteins and healthy fats. Continuing to eat this way will do you wonders for years to come.

Here are 5 tips to help you start balancing your blood sugar:

Use the healthy plate method

Make up half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, which includes basically everything except for potato, sweet potato and corn.
Have your veggies however you like them – fresh, roasted, stir-fried, steamed – all are good!

Carbohydrates should make up the next quarter of your plate. This includes foods like bread, pasta, cereal, rice, quinoa, other grains, crackers, potato, sweet potato, corn, fruit, milk and yoghurt.

The last quarter of your plate should be a form of lean protein e.g. chicken, fish, eggs, red meat, tofu, beans, lentils, chickpeas or cheese.

Lastly, include a about a tablespoon of a healthy fat like extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts or olives.

Example: stir-fried greens + portion of basmati rice + piece of salmon + drizzle of olive oil.

Go for low GI carbohydrates

This means choosing carbohydrate options that lead to a slower rise in blood sugar.
Go for wholegrain or wholemeal versions of the carbohydrates that you would normally choose.

Example: multigrain bread, wholemeal or pulse pasta, basmati rice, vita wheats, oats, noodles

Try not to eat carbohydrates on their own

Carbohydrates raise blood sugar. Protein and fats are slower to digest, so pairing them with carbohydrate foods helps slow down the blood sugar rise.

Example: instead of having toast with vegemite or jam, add avocado (fat) and egg (protein).

Incorporate physical activity wherever you can

Your muscles need sugar to function, so including some form of physical activity during the day, and especially after your main meals can work wonders to reduce the sugar level in your blood.
Exercise also improves your body’s ability to put the sugar into the cells where it belongs.

Example: a half hour walk after your meals, and/or talk to the team or book in a class at Fitwise!

Keep a record of your blood sugar, diet, physical activity and mood

Keeping track of what’s going on is helpful to identify patterns.
This helps when you get a high reading as you can trace back your actions and see where to make changes. Including your mood is helpful because sometimes even feeling stressed can impact blood sugar.

This is only general advice, so for more personalised assistance with GD (or anything else!) please book an appointment. I would love to meet you!

Helena McDonald
Accredited Practicing Dietitian
helena@fitwise.com.au

 

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