Pregnancy cravings are a phenomenon that almost every woman experiences during the first trimester. These cravings range from sweet food to sour food to spicy food, and albeit the reasons for these cravings are unknown, they can be hypothesised to be psychological factors or hormonal changes. These cravings, however, can put women at risk of developing gestational diabetes.
Craving sugary foods spike the blood glucose level putting women at risk of developing gestational diabetes. A method of testing for it is through a blood test.
The blood is tested for fasting sugar, and based on the readings, a medical professional can diagnose gestational diabetes. If the blood glucose level is above 190 mg/dL, the person can be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
As per research, gestational diabetes is prevalent among Indians, varying from 7-16% yearly. However, gestational diabetes, which is relatively common, can be easily managed or even totally avoided by simply checking your sugar levels during pregnancy.
HealthifyPRO 2.0 comes with a CGM that constantly tracks your blood glucose level, along with pro coaches and nutritionists that customise diet plans and exercise routines based on your needs. Through a regulated diet, a little exercise that can be as simple as walking puts you at an advantage in managing or altogether avoiding gestational diabetes.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
The CDC defines gestational diabetes as when the body cannot produce enough insulin during pregnancy. It is a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy in women who don’t already have diabetes. It is a temporary condition for women that goes away after the pregnancy, but it puts both the mother and the baby at risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
The weight gain during pregnancy leads to the cells unable to utilise insulin effectively. This condition is called insulin resistance. It increases the body’s need for more insulin.
All pregnant women develop insulin resistance during the later stages of pregnancy. Certain women have insulin resistance before their pregnancy and get more prone to developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy,
Having gestational diabetes can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy and the potential risk of having a large baby that might need a c-section during birth.
Gestational diabetes also leads to health complications for the foetus. For example, the foetus can become unnaturally large, creating complications during delivery. In addition, premature birth can lead to the baby having breathing problems, either having low blood sugar or developing type-2 diabetes later in life.
The mother’s blood sugar levels will return to normal after the delivery, which also puts them at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. According to the CDC’s data, almost 50% of the women who had gestational diabetes developed type 2 diabetes later in life.
Testing Gestational Diabetes
The standard way to test Gestational diabetes is using a three-hour test.
- A normal fasting blood glucose level is 190 mg/dL. However, after one hour of drinking a glucose solution, it should be lower than 180mg/dL.
- After two hours, it should be lower than 155 mg/dL.
- After three hours, it must be lower than 140 mg/dL.
If two of the results are higher than normal, then you most likely have gestational diabetes.
Ways to Treat Gestational Diabetes
It’s crucial to get diagnosed with gestational diabetes so you can start treatment and safeguard your health and your baby’s health.
You’ll likely be tested between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy because gestational diabetes typically appears around the 24th week.
Your doctor might test you early if you’re at a higher risk for gestational diabetes. However, early in your pregnancy, blood sugar levels higher than normal could be a sign of type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes rather than gestational diabetes.
Testing and monitoring the blood glucose level is the initial stage of treating or preventing gestational diabetes. The second most important thing to watch is the diet. Tracking daily food intake can help bring minor changes into your diet that can positively impact your health and that of your baby.
Foods to Avoid
Sugary and Sweet Foods
Blood sugar rises when one consumes sugary and sweet foods—specifically refined or processed foods.
Some examples of these types of foods are:
- Soft Drinks
- Ice cream
Foods rich in starch contain high carbohydrate content and a high glycemic index, which one should avoid. The Glycemic index ranges between 0 to 100 based on the relative rise in blood sugar levels two hours after consuming certain foods, with 100 being pure glucose content.
Examples of foods like this are:
- White bread
- Overripe bananas
Drinks like carbonated beverages and packed juices are rich in artificial flavouring and sugar. Therefore, one must always avoid them and replace them with healthier alternatives like coconut water or buttermilk.
Foods that are Safe to Consume
When managing gestational diabetes and sugar levels for the tests, it is essential to clearly understand the foods you can consume. Your body needs a certain amount of macronutrients, and it is vital to source them from healthy sources that will not drastically affect your blood sugar levels
Some healthy foods that you can include in your diet are:
Consuming 2-3 servings of protein-rich foods provides fundamental nutrients to the foetus and makes you feel satisfied and full for longer, preventing you from overconsumption of food. Some protein-rich foods to consider as an invaluable addition to your diet are:
- Low-fat dairy
These are low in carbohydrates but contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Some examples of these are:
- Bell peppers
- Lettuce greens
Unlike simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates have high fibre and low glycemic, which helps manage and reduce the risk of diabetes and keeps your blood sugar from spiking.
Some complex carbohydrates to include are:
- Whole grain cereals like millet, oats, barley, quinoa
- Brown rice
- Green apple
- Citrus fruits like oranges
Choosing healthy fats helps you feel fuller for longer while consuming fewer bad calories. Options include:
- Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, or peanuts
- Almond oil
- Sesame seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chia
The HealthifyMe Note
Gestational diabetes, although a temporary condition, puts a later risk on the mother and baby. Although relatively common, it is equally manageable through diet and exercise. It is essential to know what foods to avoid, like those rich in sugar, simple carbs, saturated fats and sugary drinks, and the nutrients to include in the diet, such as fibre, complex carbs, and healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, walnuts, Brazil nuts and almonds. With nutritional guidance and regular blood tests, fasting blood sugar can be balanced to avoid gestational diabetes altogether.
A Reference Meal Plan for Regulating Blood Glucose Levels During Pregnancy
HealthifyPRO 2.0 is powered by AI RIA, which tracks your calorie intake per meal and offers insights regarding the micro and macronutrients you consume. It breaks down the macronutrient intake by weight.
RIA offers healthy suggestions and alternatives and shows the top contributors that lead to a high-calorie intake. HealthifyPRO 2.0 also has a smart scale that breaks up your weight based on contributing mass percentages and a CGM that constantly monitors blood glucose levels.
It also comes with in-house expert nutritionists and coaches who customise a diet plan and workout routine that best suits your goals and needs. One such sample diet is:
- Energy: 1204-1421 Cal
- Protein: 56-85 g
- Fat: 30-60 g
- Carbohydrate: 132-199 g
- Fibre: 20-45 g
Chia seeds (2 tbsp) + Methi seed water
Whole wheat paneer sandwich (1) + Coriander chutney (2 tbsp)
Vegetable Oats (1 bowl) + Low-fat curd (1 Katori)
Moong dal cheela (2) + Coriander chutney (2 tbsp)
Apple (1) + Green tea
Peach (1) + Green tea
Guava + Green tea
Vegetable Salad + Wheat roti (2) + Mix vegetable curry (1 Katori) + Low fat curd (1 Katori)
Vegetable Salad + Sambhar (1 cup) + Brown rice (1 Katori)
Egg white curry (1 cup) + Whole wheat roti (2)
Tea (without sugar) + 1 cup Makhana
Tea (without sugar) + 30g roasted Chana
Tea (without sugar) + Roasted pistachios
Whey protein isolate (½ scoop) + Skimmed milk (1 glass)
Sauteed vegetables (1 cup) + Grilled paneer (70g)
Quinoa pulao (1 bowl) + 3 Egg whites boiled
Besan cheela (1) + Crumbled paneer stuffing (50g) + Coriander chutney
Controlling gestational diabetes with food doesn’t have to be difficult because a good gestational diabetes diet plan includes enough lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables. But it’s important to avoid refined sugars, simple carbs, and saturated fats.
Furthermore, pregnant women should also involve in exercises (as recommended by their doctor) to help the body manage sugar levels.
Finally, if your diet is more balanced during this joyous time, you can feel vibrant and full of energy and have smooth, stable moods while controlling gestational diabetes.