Gestational diabetes surfaces only during pregnancy and disappears once the baby is born. However, mothers who have had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are more prone to developing diabetes later in life. Gestational diabetes can usually be controlled by diet regulation. A diet plan for gestational diabetes requires modifications to the daily diet of a pregnant mother suffering from this condition. This is done by designing a proper menu that contains a balanced amount of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and vitamins. This is done by eating pre-determined quantities of selected foods belonging to various foods groups that add up to a daily calorific intake of 2000 to 2200 calories. The patient needs to adhere strictly to the diet plan and prepare a chart to note down what she eats, the quantities eaten, the corresponding calorific values and the time of the meals and snacks. This helps the woman to know on a daily basis if her food intake is within the recommended range.
A proper diet plan for gestational diabetes can be prepared only by a qualified dietician/ healthcare provider attending to the patient. The patient should not attempt to make such a plan by herself. The diet plan is individualized and may be dissimilar in cases of two different individuals suffering from gestational diabetes. The dietician specifies different foods and their quantities depending on the physical characteristics of the patient like height, weight etc. as well as the daily activities undertaken. The dietitian also prepares the plan to contain change lists with details of different food groups from which the patient can choose what she wants to eat to suit her preference.
The diet plan for gestational diabetes is based on a patient’s individual lifestyle, metabolism and nutritional requirements. The most important change in the dietary regime is a restriction or major reduction of simple sugars, syrups and other foods with high sugar and carbohydrate content. Simple sugars are replaced by more complex carbohydrates that are digested slowly. The diet also has a well-balanced mix of healthy fats, proteins, nutrients and vitamins. Vegetables are at the top of the recommended list of foods as they do not contribute to raising blood sugar levels. At the same time they are a rich source of vital nutrients for both the mother and the baby.
Usually four servings of a cup of raw vegetables and half a cup of cooked vegetables is the daily quantity to be eaten as per a diet plan for gestational diabetes. Protein intake for helping growth, healing, building cells and assisting hormones to work is covered by including food rich in proteins like poultry, fish, cottage cheese, peanut butter, tofu etc. One protein rich food should be taken with each diet. Fats contain calories and provide fatty acids that help the body to absorb essential vitamins that are necessary for the mother’s health and for the baby’s development. Recommended quantity of margarine, cooking oils and spreads that contain unsaturated fats need to be added to every meal and snack.
By following a diet plan for gestational diabetes prepared by a qualified dietitian, a pregnant woman can control her blood sugar levels with a healthy and nourishing diet and ensure her own and her unborn child’s safety.
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