Food choices, a healthy weight gain and exercise are important for growing a healthy baby.

Avoid gestational diabetes by eating well

Healthy Food Pregnancy

Women who are pregnant do many things to make sure their baby is healthy at delivery – they go to their prenatal visits, take their prenatal vitamins and hopefully get a good night of sleep. Food choices, a healthy weight gain and exercise are also important for growing a healthy baby.

An interesting Finnish study found that gestational diabetes or diabetes during pregnancy may be prevented with lifestyle changes. Here is more from this study.

Gestational diabetes occurs in 2 to 18 percent of all pregnancies in the United States. Having a previous pregnancy with diabetes or being obese places a woman at risk for gestational diabetes. Women who do develop gestational diabetes are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes within the next 10 years.

This Finnish study included women who were less than five months pregnant and at risk for developing gestational diabetes. Half of the women received nutrition counseling and engaged in physical activity. The results? They had a lower risk of developing gestational diabetes than those women who received usual prenatal care.

The women who received dietary advice from a registered dietitian were encouraged to eat vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein and to reduce sugar intake. 

Healthy menu ideas during pregnancy might include:

Breakfast - Scrambled egg and cheese sandwich on multi-grain toast, seasonal fresh fruit and milk

Lunch - Chicken salad stuffed in whole wheat pita pocket, side salad and Greek yogurt

Dinner - Shrimp and veggies stir fry over brown rice, fresh fruit cup and milk

The women also strived to get in 150 minutes of activity each week and had access to a public swimming pool. The other interesting point is that those women who received additional counseling gained less weight during their pregnancy. A healthy weight gain in pregnancy reduces the risk of developing gestational diabetes - and that improves the chances of having a very healthy baby.

The bottom line as you head into a pregnancy: If you are at risk for developing gestational diabetes, ask your doctor for a referral to a registered dietitian. He or she can help you map out a healthy eating plan to meet the nutritional needs of both you and the baby, and hopefully, prevent gestational diabetes.

Healthy recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.