Pregnancy, even though full of challenges, may not be as difficult as you think. Your meal plan for diabetes needs to be modified when you are pregnant. The total amount of energy you need from food is based on your pre-pregnancy weight, age, activity level, and whether you are carrying more than one baby.
Diabetes occurs when your body can't produce enough of a hormone called insulin. Insulin is made by your pancreas, and it does two jobs:
During pregnancy your body has to produce extra insulin to meet your baby's needs, especially from the mid-pregnancy stage onwards. If your body can't manage this, you will have too much sugar in your blood. It's then that you may develop diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes).
The main problem with having too much sugar in your blood is that it crosses the placenta to your baby. This means that there is a small risk that your baby could grow large. A big baby can make labour and birth more difficult.
The first step in treating gestational diabetes is to modify your diet to help keep your blood sugar level within the normal range, while eating a healthy diet. Most women with well-controlled blood sugar deliver healthy babies without any complications.
The first question likely to cross your mind may be “what can I eat?” But, with so much to take in, you could still feel unsure about the answer. All foods contain some combination of carbohydrate, fat, and protein. Carbohydrate affects your blood glucose much faster than fat and protein which does but over many hours. For this reason, you’ll need to regulate your intake of foods that are rich in carbohydrate (“carbs”) eg. Rice, yam, cassava, Banku, Kenkey etc. Additionally, the timings and well as meal portions consumed affects the control of blood glucose.
If you’ve just been diagnosed and aren’t sure about what you can and can’t eat, here’s what you need to know.
Some steps to help plan your meal
Meal plans normally give specific targets for the whole day and for each meal and snack. But then you may not always have your plan to refer to. Therefore, the simple steps below can help control your blood glucose levels:
Keeping your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible increases your chances of having a trouble-free pregnancy. It is therefore very important to eat a healthy and balanced diet as well as exercise every day to protect yourself and the beautiful baby too. Ask to be referred to a dietitian who can support you to come up with a specific eating plan that is tailored to your needs.