Gestational diabetes is a condition brought about by high blood glucose levels that remain high during pregnancy. The health of the fetus and mother as well as the development of the fetus can be adversely affected by this form of diabetes. Although it seems as if the pregnancy causes the diabetic response in some women there have been studies done which show they may have been predisposed to diabetes as they develop type 2 diabetes later on in life. A gestational diabetes diet plan is critical to properly managing the affects of this disease.
Routine screening for gestational diabetes is recommended during the second trimester for all pregnant women to help limit the negative impacts it can have on mother and baby. If it is not controlled it can lead to pregnancy-induced hypertension, premature birth, large fetus size, congenital abnormalities, future obesity and diabetes in the infant, and other birth complications.
A gestational diabetes diet requires dietary modifications that the mother may not be used to but to control this form of diabetes it is essential. This is accomplished through individually developed dietary prescriptions based on metabolic nutrition and lifestyle requirements. Basic changes include reduced intake of simple sugars such as white table sugar and syrups.
The simple sugars are replaced with more complex carbohydrates with a balanced intake of nutrients, particularly with the carbohydrates, during the day. To make starting this type of gestational diabetes diet plan easier a registered dietician will use exchange lists to make their clients meal planning easier.
Exchange lists were first developed for diabetic meal planning but they have become a basic tool for almost all food guides and dietary recommendations.
Another system to control diabetes, carbohydrate counting, has recently begun to see more widespread use. This system allows the client to keep track of carbohydrate intake during the course of the day.
An overall gestational diabetes diet plan takes into account the physical, psychosocial, and educational requirements. For the woman with this form of diabetes reliance on her health care providers to help manage her condition is vitally important. Her registered dietician has the primary responsibility for developing and teaching her the individualized dietary plan that will work best for her. Nurses at her doctor’s office and in the hospital help reinforce these dietary needs and also are responsible for teaching her how to effectively monitor blood glucose levels and administer insulin if needed. By working together the pregnant woman and her health care team can successfully manage and overcome the risks posed by gestational diabetes.