Starting A Gestational Diabetes Diet Plan
Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes means that you’ll need to change your eating habits, for the health of yourself as well as your new baby. The goal of a gestational diabetes diet menu is to nourish yourself and your baby by lowering your blood glucose levels. Creating your eating plan will take a bit of time and planning, but the process will become much easier when you understand the basics and after your body adjusts to your new way of eating. Below, we’re looking at the guidelines for creating your healthy eating plan and offering sample meals to help you build a menu that will work best for you.
Eat Small Portions, Frequently
In order to keep your blood glucose levels stable all day, your plan should include six small meals, each between two and three hours apart. This means adding in small meals between your regular schedule of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Plan to eat breakfast shortly after waking up in the morning, making your first meal a priority. After hours of not eating, blood glucose levels tend to spike first thing in the morning, strangely enough, and you need to eat a little to get your body started in the right direction. To start your day off right, have a small breakfast. The meal should include protein and whole grains, rather than sugary cereals and fruit juices that will cause another quick increase in blood glucose levels. Schedule your last snack of the day later in the evening. Try to ensure that you won’t go more than ten hours without a meal overnight.
Make things easier for yourself by planning ahead. Create your gestational diabetes diet menu plan and find recipes at the beginning of the week. Set up your meal plan as a chart, creating spaces for breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack, dinner, and an evening snack. Note the amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat you should have for each of these meals and snacks. Then, make a note of what foods fit into those guidelines. When it’s time to eat, pull out your chart and eat what you’ve written down. Most of us are juggling busy schedules and it might be difficult to remember when you should be eating. Try setting an alarm on your phone to remind you of meal times.
The Role of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates will determine where your blood glucose levels are at throughout the day. That’s why it’s important to limit, monitor, and spread out the carbs that you eat. While all foods contain a combination of carbohydrates, fat, and protein, some foods are much more carb heavy. These are the foods that should be limited in your gestational diabetes diet menu. Unfortunately, many of those are the comfort foods that we all love. Foods that are high in carbs include: beans and lentils, bread and cereal, starchy vegetables, milk and yogurt, fruit and fruit juices, and sweets. This does not mean you have to stop eating these, just eat smaller portions and watch how your body responds.
When creating your meal plan, you’ll be looking at servings of each food group. Carbohydrate servings will be the most important of these groups. The following list shows the four main groups of carbs and offers a few examples of a single carb serving.
-Starches: 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup cooked beans or lentils, 1/3 cup cooked rice or pasta
-Starchy Vegetables: 1/2 cup mashed potatoes, 1/2 cup corn, 1/2 cup peas
-Fruits: 1 small apple, 1/2 banana, 1/2 large grapefruit
-Milk and Yogurt: 1 cup nonfat milk, 1 cup soy milk, 3/4 cup low fat yogurt
Foods to Include in Your Gestational Diabetes Diet Menu
While your menu will be well rounded, including options from every food group, you’ll be eating more of some foods than others. Now that we’ve discussed a few of the foods and food groups that should be limited when managing gestational diabetes, we’ll look at all of the options for delicious, healthy meals and snacks. Your daily meals and snacks should contain plenty of protein and lots of fresh produce.
Fresh vegetables should make up the bulk of your meals. Vegetables will help to fill you up, while giving you essential vitamins and nutrients that are extremely important for pregnant women and their babies. Vegetables also contain very few calories, meaning that you can enjoy larger servings. Add vegetables like broccoli, spinach and other greens, carrots, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts to your meal plan.
Protein is essential to controlling blood sugar. Foods that are high in protein will also help you to feel full while also working to build cells and level out hormones. Adding protein to each meal and snack throughout your day will help you to avoid hunger pangs and keep your mood in check. Sources of protein include chicken, fish and seafood, beef, turkey, tofu, nuts, peanut butter, eggs, and cheese. When choosing protein, try to limit unhealthy fats. Your body needs extra protein while you are pregnant, so make sure you include enough.
Creating and Personalizing Your Meal Plan
Your gestational diabetes diet menu should include a certain amount of servings from each food group each day. The following list shows how many servings of each food group you should consume each day on average, but if your body is really keeping the blood sugar levels high, try to limit the fruits and dairy and get your calcium in other places.
-Vegetables: 6 servings
-Protein: 7 servings
-Grains: 7 servings
-Fruits: 2 servings
-Dairy: 3 servings
You’ll notice that the recommend servings include 12 servings of carbohydrates. Remember that these servings will need to spread out evenly throughout the day. The timing of your meals is just as important to your gestational diabetes diet menu as the actual foods that you’re consuming. If you find that you’re still hungry after finishing a meal or snack, add protein and non-starchy vegetables to your plan. Now that you know which foods to limit and which foods to consume, let’s look at a meal plan for a typical day.
Breakfast: 1 serving of grains, 1 serving of protein, unlimited non-starchy vegetables
Breakfast Example: a one egg omelet with vegetables and a slice of toast
Morning Snack: 1 serving of grains, 1 serving of dairy, 1 serving of protein
Snack Example: a rice cake with peanut butter and a glass of milk
Lunch: 3 servings of grains, 1 serving of dairy, 2 servings of protein, unlimited non-starchy vegetables
Lunch Example: fish with brown rice and vegetables, a scoop of yogurt
Afternoon Snack: 1 serving of protein, 1 serving of fruit
Snack Example: cottage cheese with fruit
Dinner: 2 servings of grains, 1 serving of dairy, 2 servings of protein, unlimited non-starchy vegetables
Dinner Example: whole wheat pasta with meatballs and red sauce, a salad with cheese
Evening Snack: 1 serving of fruit, 1 serving of protein
Snack Example: half a banana with almond butter
Sticking with Your Gestational Diabetes Diet Menu
While being told that you need to make significant changes to your day to day eating habits isn’t easy, the results will be well worth it. Controlling your blood glucose levels, nourishing your body with healthy foods, and adding regular physical activity to your day will help to keep you healthy during your pregnancy. Create your gestational diabetes diet menu and stick with your plan to ensure a healthy pregnancy and the delivery of a healthy baby.
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