Pregnancy diabetes is a relatively common health problem nowadays – according to estimates, two to three percent of pregnant women in the Czech Republic suffer from it. How does it manifest itself and how can you adapt your diet so that it does not put the pregnant woman or the baby at risk?
Pregnancy diabetes will be detected by blood tests
Blood sugar levels in pregnant women are routinely tested as part of blood draws – and several times. In fact, the development of gestational diabetes can occur at any time. And what are the values?
- Glycaemia below 5.1 – everything is normal, but the tests will certainly be repeated later.
- Glycaemia between 5.1 – 6.9 – inconclusive values, it is necessary to carry out a control test, but on another day. If the subsequent test is normal, it is advisable to undergo an oral glucose tolerance stress test (OOGT), which will definitely confirm or refute the diagnosis of gestational diabetes.
- Glycaemia above 7.0 – immediate diagnosis of diabetes.
First testing for gestational diabetes is done by the 14th week of pregnancy. It is enough if the woman comes in the morning fasting. The second testing phase is scheduled between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. This is an oral glucose tolerance stress test (OOGT), which requires drinking a sweet solution (75 grams of glucose dissolved in 300 ml of water).
Here the values are different. Further testing for diabetes is required when:
- the fasting value is greater than 5.1
- the value at 60 minutes after OOGT is greater than 10.0 mmol/l
- the value at 120 minutes after OOGT is greater than 8.5 mmol/l
Results are usually available on the day of the test.
Symptoms of gestational diabetes
Sometimes it is possible to detect the presence of diabetes before blood tests indicate it.A feeling of thirst and constant dry mouth are typical. Women are often thirsty and awake (which is related to the body’s attempt to excrete as much excess sugar as possible into the urine and therefore out of the body). Other symptoms include fatigue and sleepiness.
How to eat during gestational diabetes
It is not always necessary to treat gestational diabetes with the standard prescribed Metformin or even insulin. Lifestyle changes can often help.It’s important to give up so-called fast sugars (biscuits, most fruit, flavoured sodas and other snacks) and spread your meals over several portions a day. Everything should look like this:
- First breakfast
- Bedtime meal
What to eat during gestational diabetes
The emphasis should be on products containing protein. These are mainly lean meats, really good quality and cold cuts and fish. Regular dairy products (extremes of full-fat but also low-fat should be avoided), vegetables and vegetable fats (olive oil) are also suitable. On the other hand, animal fats (including high-fat dairy products) and, of course, simple carbohydrates in large quantities (i.e. mainly sugar, various sweets, honey and dried/candied fruit) are usually not recommended.
Fresh fruit is not completely forbidden, but its consumption is usually limited to 1-2 pieces per day, preferably in the morning when the body processes sugars best.
And how to make a diet? Remember that you should eat about 2,000-2,200 calories each day (that’s about 35 kcal per kilogram of body weight). Familiarise yourself with the glycaemic index of foods, which tells you how quickly a particular food raises your blood sugar levels (for example, pasta cooked al dente has a lower glycaemic index than that cooked completely soft). Foods with a lower GI are generally better.
How to build a diet
How do you spread your foods throughout the day? Just follow the general recommendations.
Breakfast should start with a good quality dark pastry (it should not contain malt, honey, molasses or caramel). Put ham, cheese or perhaps spread some spreadable butter on it. On the other hand, don’t indulge in anything sweet, including fresh fruit, as this will cause your sugar to spike quickly after a night out. And the same goes for coffee (caffeine raises blood sugar). Don’t forget vegetables, you should eat them with every meal.
It is usually eaten two hours after breakfast. You should aim to eat mainly dairy products and fruit. However, try to give up a lot of the sweet stuff (bananas, grapes, melons). And avoid all sweetened dried fruit. Emphasize varieties that have a low glycemic index. These include:
- and other berries.
If you like sweet tea or coffee, for example, then temporarily reach for sweeteners designed for diabetics. Stevia, xylitol or perhaps erythritol are great. You won’t have to deny yourself anything you like, which will help you stick to your diet better.
Pure soups (no cream or roux) are suitable. Meat should be stewed and roasted rather than fried. And don’t forget legumes a few times a week, which are a valuable source of starch and valuable vegetable protein. As for side dishes, white rice, dumplings, fried vegetables, noodles, etc. should definitely not be on your plate. If you do want to indulge in pasta, choose whole grain or vegetable or legume pasta.
Their composition should be similar to breakfast. It is also possible to eat fruit with a low glycaemic index (see above), but always no more than a handful.
This meal should contain mainly complex carbohydrates: so for example, wholemeal bread, brown rice or wholemeal pasta. You can also enjoy lean meat, dairy products and eggs (preferably hard-boiled). However, avoid any fruit.
This meal prevents blood glucose levels from dropping too much during the night, so have it about half an hour before bedtime. The same foods as for dinner are suitable, but only in minimal quantities. However, if you still wake up hungry at night, get up and have something else really light (a tomato, two slices of cheese, a slice of good quality bread, etc.) to prevent your blood sugar falling below the danger level. And next time, make the last meal of the day a little bigger.
Risks of gestational diabetes for mother and foetus
Why not make a real effort to follow this diet? If gestational diabetes is not controlled, the mother can develop classic diabetes within 10-15 years after giving birth. Children are then at risk of excessive birth weight, which is associated with some perinatal injuries such as a fractured collarbone. These children can also develop metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes in later years.