A healthy diet is one that includes a balance of foods from all the food groups, giving you the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals needed for a healthy pregnancy. For women with gestational diabetes, such a diet also helps to keep blood sugar levels in the healthy target range.
Women with gestational diabetes have special dietary needs.
Because eating a healthy diet is such an important part of a treatment plan for gestational diabetes, women should not try to create their own diets. To promote health throughout your pregnancy, it is essential that you work with your health care provider to create a plan for your healthy diet. It is also important that you follow the plan as outlined by your health care provider.
The information in this booklet is specific to women who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. These guidelines are not appropriate for all pregnant women.
Carbohydrates are often at the center of a healthy diet for a woman with gestational diabetes.
There are a few things you should know about carbohydrates and your healthy diet:
Most women with gestational diabetes follow a meal plan to make sure they are getting the nutrients they need. Types of meal plans may include:
Your health care provider may also tell you to get more fiber in your diet. Fiber is the part of plant foods that your body can't digest, like skins, seeds, and bran. Because fiber slows down digestion and absorption of nutrients, it can also help to control your blood sugar level. Foods that are part of a healthy diet, like fruits, vegetables, and legumes (beans and peas), are also good sources of dietary fiber. Some foods that are high in fiber, like whole grain products, such as cereals and some breads, also help prevent constipation. (See Appendix A: High-Fiber Foods for a list of foods that contain high fiber.)
All pregnant women need to eat healthy diets, as laid out by their health care providers, to help them get the right nutrients, in the right amounts. When you have gestational diabetes, a healthy diet also helps to keep blood sugar in the healthy range. Following a healthy diet is one of the best ways to promote a healthy pregnancy.
Women who have gestational diabetes should not try to create a healthy diet on their own. They should work closely with their health care provider to make sure they are getting proper nutrition.
This table describes the Food Groups that your health care provider will use to build your diet. He or she will tell you how many servings of each group you should have in a day.
If one of the foods that you normally eat does not appear on this table, ask your health care provider what group that food belongs to. You should also ask about the serving size, so that you know how much of that food you can eat. Every question you have is important, so don't be afraid to ask.
You might also have to include these changes in your eating habits 5 to help keep your blood sugar level under control:
To give you an idea of what a meal plan for one day might look like, there is a menu sample at the back of this booklet. This sample menu is not meant to replace your health care provider's recommendations. (See Appendix B: Sample Menu for more information.)
Following a meal plan and eating a healthy diet may seem like a lot of work at first. You might have to measure food before you eat it, or not eat certain foods while you are pregnant; you might have to count carbohydrates, servings, or exchanges. Don't give up! Sticking to your meal plan is one of the most effective ways to control gestational diabetes.
Eat a healthy diet or follow a meal plan for your entire pregnancy to improve your health and to help ensure a healthy pregnancy. If you need to make changes to your diet or meal plan to keep your glucose level in the healthy range, your health care provider will help.
One sign that your diet or meal plan is successful is that your glucose level will usually stay within the healthy range (see the Healthy Target Range for Blood Sugar table). Talk to your health care provider about what to do if you have abnormal blood sugar numbers.
Maintaining a healthy weight gain and not having ketones in your urine are other signs that your diet or meal plan is working. For more information about healthy weight gain, see the Maintain a Healthy Weight Gain section of this booklet. For information about ketones, go to the section titled Your health care provider might also tell you to: Test your urine for ketones, if needed found later in this booklet.