Gestational diabetes is a complication many women experience during pregnancy due to hormonal changes influencing digestion and pancreatic function (a decrease in the amount of insulin produced). This carbohydrate intolerance’ usually occurs in the later stages of pregnancy and generally resolves itself after the delivery of the baby, however, in the meantime can be controlled through diet changes. Some caution needs to be taken due to further health complications because if this condition is not addressed and resolved it can develop into Type 2 diabetes in the coming years. The orthodox treatment for this is to prescribe insulin rather than anti-diabetic tablets due to risks to the baby.
If gestational diabetes is not controlled and your blood sugar continues to be too high then these excess amounts of sugar are transported to the baby. This is a serious concern because the baby is able to increase the production to use the extra sugar in the blood stream and this cycle of events can cause macrosomia (a larger baby), neonatal hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar after birth for the infant), stillbirth or birth defects.
Gestational diabetes is a condition that requires assessment and monitoring of blood glucose levels, specifically when making dietary changes. I recommend that you consult with a health professional so that a full history can be taken, which will take into account your general health status, current medications, diet and past medical history.
GENERAL GUIDELINES WHICH MAY HELP YOU TO BALANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS:
- Eating a good breakfast will make it easier for your body to balance blood sugar levels throughout the day. Try to combine a small portion of protein with complex carbohydrates – for example unsweetened muesli with yoghurt and nuts, or whole grain toast and egg. The protein content helps to slow the release of sugars into your blood stream. This helps to maintain a more consistent level of energy throughout the morning and avoid the sugar lows. It’s fine to eat your fave fruits as long as you combine them with some protein such as nuts and yoghurt. Or put them in a smoothie.
- In fact, the majority of your food intake should be from fresh fruits and vegetables. These foods are cleansing to the system and provide the best nutrients for your baby. Also include whole grain foods and quality protein sources (such as almonds, fish, and organic dairy products).
- Reduce all simple sugars in all forms such as lollies, cakes, sweets, biscuits, soft drinks etc. (Hint: When reading labels, look for words ending in -ose, such as glucose, maltose, lactose as these are all forms of sugar).
- The mineral Chromium supports the pancreas to produce insulin (which draws sugar into the cells) to ultimately balance blood sugar levels. Chromium is a nutrient which many people have a deficiency of due to it being used by the body in high amounts and is not at optimal levels in the soil or foods we eat.
- Once your angel is born, maintaining a healthy body weight, keeping a regular exercise routine, eating healthy foods and minimising simple and refined sugars in your diet may reduce the possibility of pancreas and insulin insufficiency in the future.