Once diagnosed with the disease, it is necessary to start treatment immediately so that it doesn’t hurt you and your child. The treatment aims at keeping blood glucose level under control through diet, exercise and medication.
Healthy eating is the best way to control sugar levels and prevent excessive weight gain. While losing weight during pregnancy is not advisable because the body is working hard to support the growth of the fetus, the weight gain goals will be set based on your weight before pregnancy.
A healthy diet focuses on counting calories and at the same time eating nutritious food to provide the growing fetus enough nutrients. The recommended calorie intake for a woman of average weight is 2.200 – 2.500 calories a day. Overweight women may be recommended to lower that to 1.800.
You may also be advised to:
- Eat regularly and avoid skipping main meals
- Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, aiming at least 5 portions a day
- Eat lean sources of protein, such as beef, fish, skinless chicken or turkey
- Eat starchy and low glycemic index foods that release sugar slowly but leave you feeling full for longer, such as beans, lentils, porridge, muesli, granary bread, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta
- Avoid sugary foods and highly refined carbohydrates, such as sweets, cakes and biscuits. Although you don’t need to stick to a completely sugar-free diet, try healthy alternatives for snacks, such as seeds, nuts and fruit.
- Avoid sugary drinks, such as soda, sweetened ice teas, energy drinks, sports drinks and flavored yogurt drinks. Be aware that smoothies and fruit juices contain sugar too. And while fruit is rich in fiber, juice contains no fiber at all, whereas blending for smoothies chops fiber into small pieces, which affects it activity in the body.
Regular physical activity for 15-30 minutes a day is a key factor in helping the body use insulin better and control blood sugar. Besides stimulating the body to move glucose into the cells and increasing their sensitivity to insulin, exercise helps to relieve muscle cramps, back pain and other discomforts of pregnancy. You can go in for swimming, brisk walking or cycling with your doctor’s consent. House work, gardening and other everyday activities also count.
If after several weeks of exercising regularly and changing your diet your blood sugar is not back to normal, you may need medication. This can be oral forms, usually Metformin, or insulin injections if tablets are not effective enough. Sugar levels can become harder to control as pregnancy progresses and the fetus grows, therefore you may have to increase the medication dose later in pregnancy. However, the medications will be stopped after giving birth to the child.