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The Gestational Diabetes Diet Explored

Aug 28, 2008
Gestational diabetes is a rapidly-growing problem among mothers today, probably due to the relative overweight of modern moms as well as the relative age of mothers. Women who are inclined to be diabetic or who are older are both more likely to get this troublesome disease. This is not quite the same as full-blown diabetes, though some of the symptoms are the same. However, it can cause some very special problems in both mother and baby.

Treating gestational diabetes requires you to follow several directions:

- Eat 6 small meals per day, throughout the day.
- Eat a very balanced diet, following the new modified FDA food pyramid
- Know what your portion sizes are
- Always start the day with a high-protein, high-carb breakfast; no juice or sugars
- Check your blood sugar regularly, as the doctor suggested
- Exercise
- Be mentally prepared if your doctor tells you it's time for insulin shots

What Causes Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is triggered by the placenta, which is an organ in itself, producing hormones that make your body more resistant to insulin so that you need more. If your pancreas cannot keep up with the increased demand, instead of the glucose you ingest being processed properly by insulin, it remains in the bloodstream. This can cause a number of problems, from high-birthweight babies forcing C-sections to respiratory distress syndrome in the baby to a much increased chance of preeclampsia in the mother. Left untreated, both mother and baby are at risk of death.

It is critical to treat gestational diabetes yourself with diet and exercise, no matter what medications the doctor also offers you. The ideal way to treat gestational diabetes is to self-regulate your sugar level by being very careful of what you eat and when.

Eating For Gestational Diabetes

Use a basic carbohydrate counting reference sheet. Your doctor may have given you one; if he did not, you can order them from the American Diabetes Association. This will tell you which foods are carbs, proteins, and fats, and help you select appropriate serving sizes. It will also help you follow the USDA food pyramid. Make sure, too, that you always read food labels.

When is not so complicated. Eat six times a day, including within an hour of getting up and within an hour of going to bed. If you have trouble eating smaller portions, prepare three regular meals and eat half of them at a time. Eat the same number of carbohydrate servings at each meal. And start your day with a meal including one protein and one complex carbohydrate (for instance, one egg and a slice of wheat toast).

Other Gestational Diabetes Treatments

Make sure that you also exercise every day. This doesn't have to be fancy. You can just spend a half hour strolling through your neighborhood, or swim for a little while, or whatever you enjoy. The key is just to do it every day, not to slack off because you don't feel well. You're pregnant! You're going to feel bad from time to time.

Finally, make sure you treat your diabetes exactly the way your doctor recommends: by testing every day, coming to every appointment, saving your urine (yuck, but necessary), and learning to give yourself shots if worst comes to worst. Just remember that everything you do is for the sake of your baby's health.
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