The best meal plan for gestational diabetes includes foods high in fiber and nutrients that do not cause a dramatic rise in blood sugar levels. By consuming these foods evenly spaced throughout the day, pregnant women with this disorder can lower their risk of complications during pregnancy. Following doctor recommended guidelines can help these women gain weight at a healthy pace and deliver healthy babies that have not suffered any deformities or malnutrition due to diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is a condition that can affect some women during the latter portion of their pregnancies, usually occurring as a result of insulin-blocking hormones that are produced by the placenta. These hormones prevent the mother's body from using sugar to create energy. The sugar then builds up in the blood stream until it reaches potentially dangerous levels that can harm the development and health of the baby.
The basic building blocks of a meal plan for gestational diabetes include foods that are high in fiber, have a significant amount of nutrients, and are low in fat and sugar. This often includes whole grains, non-starchy vegetables, and fresh fruits. Carbohydrates should also be included in this type of diet, though they should be limited and closely monitored to ensure that the mother's blood sugar levels are not in danger of rising too much throughout the day. Processed sugars and fats should be almost completely eliminated, as these foods can cause a fast rise in blood sugar as well as unhealthy weight gain.
Other factors which can affect a meal plan for gestational diabetes are the weight of the mother prior to pregnancy, and her daily measured blood glucose level. Doctors and dietitians use these numbers to help the mother set a healthy weight gain goal. It is potentially damaging to the fetus for a mother with gestational diabetes to lose weight during pregnancy because she cannot find a healthy diet to eat. Once a weight gain goal has been determined, a daily carbohydrate limit can be set, which should be spread across the meals and snacks consumed during the day. The exact nature of the meal plan is often tailored to each mother by her doctor or dietician based on her unique determining factors.
The first meal of the day on a meal plan for gestational diabetes typically contains a high amount of protein and a low amount of carbohydrates. This prevents the blood sugar from spiking too high early in the morning, and provides the body fuel to begin the day. It is usually recommended that only 15 to 30 grams (0.5 to 1 ounce) of carbohydrates be consumed during this meal. Lunch and dinner may contain as many as 45 to 60 grams (1.5 to 2 ounces) of carbohydrates each, with one meal being higher than the other. Snacking between meals, which doctors often encourage as many as two per day for mothers with this disorder, should be limited to 15 grams or less.