Healthy Ways to Help You Avoid Gestational Diabetes
According to a 2014 analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 10 percent of pregnant women will get gestational diabetes during their pregnancy. Gestational diabetes, which develops during pregnancy (and typically goes away after delivery), raises blood sugar or glucose to unhealthy levels for you and your baby. Managing your blood sugar through diet and exercise, including eating more whole grains and other nutritious foods such as wheat germ, can help keep you and your baby healthy.
While exercising and eating a healthy diet before you become pregnant can help you avoid gestational diabetes, some pregnant women are more at risk for the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association. These include women who
- are overweight
- have had gestational diabetes before
- have previously given birth to a baby weighing over 9 pounds
- have a close relative with type 2 diabetes
- have already been diagnosed with prediabetes
- are African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic or Pacific Islander
- have polycystic ovary syndrome (a hormonal disorder)
If blood sugar is not controlled, health risks to the mother include developing preeclampsia (a potentially dangerous spike in blood pressure), having an early birth (before 37 weeks) and developing type 2 diabetes after the pregnancy. She is also at risk of delivering a heavier baby, which can impact both her and her baby’s health.
If you are diagnosed, you can still deliver a healthy baby as long as you take steps to manage your blood sugar with diet and exercise. Start by watching the amount and type of carbohydrates you take in, exercising and taking insulin (if recommended by your doctor). Make your carbs count by limiting cake, cookies, other sweet treats and all sweetened beverages, including soda, fruit juice, sweet tea and lemonade. Eating a balanced diet including more natural foods such as lean protein, whole grains, wheat germ, low-fat dairy, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruit, and drinking water as your primary beverage, will set you on the right path for a lifestyle of healthy eating. Here are some ideas to help lower your risk of gestational diabetes:
Schedule time in your day to work out: Set a time almost every day for some form of exercise. This will help reduce stress and weight gain during pregnancy. If time is an issue, then use the stairs at work and get up and walk whenever you can.
Liven up your lunch: Try nutritious recipes, such as our Lentil Salad with Wheat Germ, that contain good fats, lean protein and fiber and will keep you satisfied throughout the day.
Contain the sugar cravings: You’ll save calories by replacing sodas and sugary juices with seltzer and some chopped apple, lemon or lime thrown in. Substitute calorie-rich coffee drinks with sugar and cream for a coffee with skim milk and a hint of cinnamon. When you’re craving sweets, reach for the fruit instead of high-calorie snacks.
Replace unhealthy snacks: Sometimes during a long work day, the afternoon doughnut or bag of chips can seem unavoidable. Instead, pack healthy snacks like almonds, carrots or peppers with a packet of guacamole, or Honey Crunch Energy Bars with Wheat Germ.
Your doctor can help you set blood sugar targets, and a registered dietitian can assist you with a meal plan to help you avoid gestational diabetes. Recipes with plenty of vegetables, such as Asian Lemon Ginger Salad with Wheat Germ Dressing, and low-carb fish dishes, like Salmon with Lemon Dill and Wheat Germ Sauce, can help you maintain steady blood sugar—and they also taste delicious!
How do you stay healthy during pregnancy?