Diet and Exercise in Gestational Diabetes
By Nina Nazor
You should make sure that you
are providing you and your baby with an adequate nutrition and enough calories for the appropriate weight gain during your
pregnancy, for maintaining normal blood glucose levels, and for helping you avoid ketosis (the presence of ketones in your
Usually, it is recommended that you get an additional 300-500 calories
per day in the second and third trimester if you have a normal weight. However, it is suggested that you consult your doctor
before changing your calorie consumption.
The presence of ketones in urine
while pregnant has been associated with lower IQ levels and psychomotor problems in the baby. So, monitoring your glucose
levels before breakfast is a must.
In order to avoid ketosis, you must
eat three small-to-moderate-sized meals and three snacks throughout the day, including a bed time snack. This is because ketones
are produced when your body does not have enough glucose to produce energy and instead, starts burning fats, therefore you
must consume glucose and other nutrients throughout the day, and especially at night, since at that time your body needs more
fuel because your baby is growing.
Limiting carbohydrates to 40% of your
total daily caloric intake might help you control your blood glucose levels after meals. You should also go for carbs with
a low glycemic index.
In case you haven't seen a dietitian yet, I invite
you to design your own meal plan taking these recommendations into account.
The role of exercise in women with gestational
diabetes has been controversial, because while it can help decrease glucose levels, it has en effect on uterine activity.
The stationary recumbent bicycle (a bike with the pedals in front of you instead of below you) seems to be the best option.
However, exercise has its benefits on glycemic control. Researchers report that women with
gestational diabetes who follow diet and exercise have lower glycated hemoglobin levels and glucose levels compared to women
who just follow the diet.
The American Diabetes Association recommends
starting or continuing a program of moderate exercise in women who don't have any medical or obstetrical contraindications.
You must be aware, however, of uterine contractions.