What to Eat Wednesday: Gestational Diabetes and Your Diet!

Share your diabetes story with Tanglewood Foot Specialists - we want to know! Welcome to November 14, National Diabetes Awareness Day (which is the highlight of National Diabetes Awareness month!) In recognition of this crucial time period, I’ve decided to share the American Diabetes Association’s awareness information with all of you!

Additionally, in keeping with this year’s theme of raising awareness of Gestational Diabetes, I invite you to share your personal diabetes story with us, either here in the comments, or on our Facebook page. Check back here all month for lots of relevant, timely, diabetes information!

Did you know that 1 in 11 Americans today has diabetes? Despite its prevalence, diabetes is an invisible disease. It affects men and women, people young and old, and people of all races, shapes and sizes. Often there are no outward signs from the 29 million Americans who fight this chronic illness every day. That’s why there is a critical need to foster awareness and education while breaking down stereotypes, myths and misunderstandings about this growing public health crisis that affects so many of us.

This is exactly why the American Diabetes Association marks each November as American Diabetes Month—to bring extra attention to the disease and the tens of millions of people affected by it.

This November, the organization will highlight the impact of Gestational Diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. Mothers who’ve had gestational diabetes need to know that they and their children have an increased lifelong risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Most of the time, gestational diabetes resolves once your baby is born. But, even if the diabetes goes away, you have a greater chance of getting diabetes again down the road. Additionally, the child you carried with gestational diabetes is at future risk for obesity (gestational diabetes is linked to higher birth rates, which can also be predictive of higher weights later in life) and type 2 diabetes. In fact, half of all women who had gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes.

Any woman who has been diagnosed with gestational diabetes needs to know the following information: 

What to Do if You've Had Gestational Diabetes

If you’ve had gestational diabetes during any of your pregnancies, there are some crucial steps you must take in order to protect your health. 

  1. Get tested for type 2 diabetes within 12 weeks of your baby's birth. If the test is normal, you only need to repeat the test every three years, but it's important to follow through with that regular testing interval.
  2. Talk to your doctor if you plan to become pregnant again in the future. She or he can help you mitigate the risk of another incidence of gestational diabetes.
  3. Tell your child’s pediatrician about your gestational diabetes diagnosis.
  4. Focus on healthy habits, like mindful eating and regular exercise in order to stave off, or at least delay, the onset of type 2 diabetes.

What to Eat With Gestational Diabetes

When you have gestational diabetes, its important to maintain your blood sugar levels. Foods that are low on the glycemic index can help you avoid potentially dangerous spikes in your blood sugar levels. Known as low GI foods, they may help you keep gestational diabetes in check, although you should always check with your OB before making any changes to your diet. In general, foods that are less processed are also lower Glycemic Index choices. Here's a shortlist of some low GI foods you may want to try if you've been diagnosed with gestational diabetes: 

  • fruits, especially apples, oranges, pears, peaches, and mangoes
  • vegetables, such as broccoli, green beans, peas, yams, lettuce, cabbage, and carrots
  • legumes, such as beans, chickpeas, and lentils
  • brown rice
  • whole oats, and whole-oat-based cereals, such as porridge, oat bran, muesli, and granola
  • multigrain and pumpernickel bread

Foods to Avoid with Gestational Diabetes
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the following are considered high GI foods, and should be avoided when possible: 

  • fruit juice
  • ready-to-eat cereal
  • pizza
  • soda
  • white bread
  • short grain white rice
  • russet potatoes
  • instant oats
  • macaroni cheese from mix
  • saltine crackers
  • rice cakes
  • pretzels

Whether you've had gestational diabetes or type 2 diabetes, your foot health may be compromised by your disease. In addition to your OB, dentist and endocrinologist, women with gestational diabetes should develop a close relationship with their podiatrist. Feel free to reach out to our office with any questions about the effects of your gestational diabetes diagnosis! 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.