Gestational diabetes – here’s what you need to know to prevent it from happening to you.
WORDS CHRISTEL GERALYN GOMES
Although it is not possible to fully prevent the development of gestational diabetes, adopting a healthy lifestyle before and during pregnancy can reduce your risk of both GDM as well as developing type 2 diabetes after delivery, says Dr Claudia Chi, consultant at NUH Women’s Centre. She advises that women eat food that is high in fibre and low in fat and refined sugars.
Tan Ai Shan, senior dietitian at the Department of Dietetics in SGH agrees, adding that the kind of carbohydrates consumed directly affects blood sugar levels. The three main types of carbohydrates are starch, sugar and fibre. “In women with gestational diabetes, the quality of carbohydrates consumed matters greatly as the glycemic response to both sugars and starches differ,” says Tan. A session with the dietitian at your hospital will help you plan your meals and foods more effectively.
Jaclyn Reutens, dietitian at Aptima Nutrition & Sports Consultants shares some eating tips with us.
1. Eliminate all sweetened drinks including fruit juices. Drink plain water instead.
2. Cut out sweets, desserts and other sugary foods.
3. Keep saturated fat intake low by avoiding creamy sauces, butter, coconut milk, fatty meats and deep-fried foods.
4. Eat steamed food or lightly cooked dishes in a small amount of oil.
5. Stick to lean protein options such as tofu, beans, lentils, chicken breast without skin, lean pork, lean beef, eggs and low-fat dairy products.
Besides healthy eating, doing regular exercises with the aim of achieving 30 minutes of moderate activity such as swimming and brisk walking on most days of the week will also be helpful.
“If you are overweight, losing weight through healthy eating and exercise before pregnancy can reduce your chance of developing gestation diabetes. Weight loss is not recommended in pregnancy but avoiding excessive weight gain can help,” Dr Chi adds. Dr Watt Wing Fong, specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology at Raffles Women Centre concurs and advises that post-pregnancy, this be kept up.
“However, sometimes it is not possible to prevent GDM,” Dr Watt says, and in such cases, all that can be done is to monitor blood sugar levels closely. For women who have gestational diabetes, Dr Watt advises that you eat smaller meals with a small snack between each meal, and increase your activity level post-meals.