Gestational diabetes: 5 lifestyle tips to control blood sugar during pregnancy


New Delhi: If you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes or are at risk of developing the condition, making healthier lifestyle changes can help you manage or avoid it. Basically, gestational diabetes occurs when a woman cannot produce enough insulin during pregnancy, resulting in high blood sugar. This can lead to a range of complications. However, medication along with a healthy diet, staying active and other healthier lifestyle choices can help manage blood sugar levels during pregnancy.

The fact is, keeping blood sugar levels in check is crucial for your health and the health of your unborn baby. It will also help you avoid complications during pregnancy and delivery. The following tips can help you control blood sugar and reduce the chances of having problems with pregnancy.

Lifestyle changes to help control gestational diabetes

  1. Eat a healthy, balanced diet that focuses on a variety of whole foods – fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, etc. These foods are high in fibre and nutrients but low in fat and calories. Choose unsaturated fats, which are a part of a healthy diet – such as olive oil, nuts and seeds, salmon, sardines, etc.
  2. Avoid or limit the intake of sugary foods and drinks as much as possible. These include cookies, cakes, candy, desserts, sweet pastries, soda, fruit juice with added sugar, ice cream, etc. Consuming sugary foods, particularly that have undergone refinement or processing can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels.
  3. Similarly, avoid or limit highly starchy foods that are high in carbohydrates, which can have a significant effect on blood sugar. Foods such as white potatoes, white bread, white rice, white pasta, etc, should be consumed in small portions. It is also suggested that whole grains such as brown rice and whole-wheat pasta be eaten in moderation as they are still high in carbs, although they are more nutritious. Perhaps, a registered dietician or a diabetes educator can help you create a meal plan that’s best for you.
  4. Staying active plays a vital role in every woman’s wellness plan. Regular exercise can help lower blood sugar levels and relieve some common discomforts which may arise during pregnancy such as back pain, constipation, trouble sleeping, etc. Generally, it is recommended to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week, along with strength exercises on 2 or more days of the week. Walking, cycling and housework are considered good choices during pregnancy. However, you must consult your doctor before beginning any exercise programme.
  5. During pregnancy, your health care team will ask you to monitor your blood sugar level regularly – several times a day, like first thing in the morning and after meals – to make sure that your diabetes is under control. You’ll also be taught what level you should be aiming for.

A healthy diet alongside regular exercise can help many women manage gestational diabetes. However, some women with the condition may need medication to control their blood sugar levels.

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