During pregnancy - growing a belly, being tired, mood swings, cravings for particular foods and the likes, are all normal, temporary, and harmless changes. However there are two other changes that may have a long-lasting impact on your heart; that is: high blood pressure during pregnancy and diabetes.
The development of high blood pressure during pregnancy is called preeclampsia and pregnancy-related diabetes is called gestational diabetes. Both of these are different from regular high blood pressure and regular diabetes because they get “cured” post delivery.
If you do develop preeclampsia or gestational diabetes during pregnancy, your doctor will track your blood pressure and blood sugar regularly and will ask you to do the same.
Diet however is the one aspect that plays an important role in helping you manage both of the said hazards. Let’s take a look and find out how...
Diet and hypertension
Calcium supplementation of 1,000 milligrams a day significantly lowers the diastolic blood pressure in women diagnosed with pregnancy induced hypertension. Calcium supplements during pregnancy may also reduce the risk of developing gestational hypertension and preeclampsia. Talk with your doctor or dietitian before adding supplements to your diet.
If you have edema and have been diagnosed with preeclampsia or eclampsia, limiting your salt intake to 2 grams per day may help with the swelling.
Calories, Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat
It is important to maintain a balanced diet with adequate calories and protein throughout your pregnancy.
Foods to Avoid
During pregnancy, women are more susceptible to foodborne illnesses. Stay clear of foods that may be contaminated with Listeria, such as soft cheeses including brie, feta and Mexican soft cheese and deli meats.
Avoid raw or undercooked eggs, meat, poultry and fish to prevent salmonella. Do not consume fish that is high in mercury such as shark, swordfish and mackerel because mercury can harm the baby's developing nervous system.
Unpasteurized juices and raw sprouts can also cause a foodborne illness.
Diet in gestational diabetes
Controlling your blood sugars can significantly reduce your risks. Proper meal planning can help you create balanced meals. Divide foods into familiar groups based on similarities in nutrient content, and eat a certain number of servings from each group, each day based on your calorie needs.
For better blood sugar control, limit your carbohydrate intake to 35 to 40 percent of your total calorie needs. Remember Carbs are not only found in food with processed sugars like soft drinks, but also in food containing natural sugars like milk, fruits, yogurt etc
Avoid eating refined flour sources like white bread or noodles. Instead, replace these foods with whole-grain and millets. Also, eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Limit intake of fruit and vegetable juices as many have a lot of added sugars.
Milk and dairy products are also good carbohydrates to include in your diet when you have gestational diabetes. Pick healthier low-fat varieties of these foods such as buttermilk, freshly set curds or fruit smoothies in place of foods with a lot of added sugar, such as flavored milk and yogurt with high-fructose corn syrup.
Select lean meats, poultry and fish - along with eggs, beans, soy and tofu. They are good protein choices. Milk products and cheese can also be incorporated. Choose lower-fat versions if too much weight gain is a concern your doctor has for you. Protein foods to avoid or limit are fatty meat and fish and seafood with high mercury levels such as swordfish and king mackerel.
Fats and oils
A diet for gestational diabetes should consist of 35 percent to 40 percent fat. Due to the higher fat content of your diet, aim to incorporate more healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats to help control total cholesterol. Nuts, Avocados, canola and olive oil are all sources of these healthier fats.
Limit saturated fat to no more than 10 percent of total calories. This type of fat is found in sweets and desserts, milk, bacon, sausage, cream and butter. It is also important to read labels - avoid foods with the ingredient "partially hydrogenated oil" to reduce unhealthy trans fats in your diet.
When you have gestational diabetes, controlling your blood sugars will be influenced by the timing of your meals. For better blood sugar control, eat three regular meals and four to five snacks per day. Do not skip meals during the day. Ideally, each meal or snack should have a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat rather than only carbohydrates or only protein to help balance your blood sugar levels.
Remember, very often morning blood sugars are higher with gestational diabetes, so check with your doctor or dietitian to see if carbohydrates should be limited at breakfast and your morning snack.
Breakfast: a toasted whole wheat toast with 2 tsp margarine, two scrambled egg whites / a bowl of poha full of peas, carrots, tomatoes and onions and 1 cup of skimmed nonfat milk.
Lunch: Include a bowl of thick dal / lentils or Chicken / Mutton curry, two whole wheat rotis /any millet bhakris, a veggie, salad , small bowl of nonfat, sugar free curds
Afternoon Snack: Eat fat free khakhra with low-fat yoghurt dip and 2 tbsp. of raisins.
Dinner: Include small piece grilled fish / chicken / lentils with 2 cups of cooked brown rice, 1 cup of cooked spinach, a small orange.
Evening Snack: 1 cup of nonfat milk and a fruit
Eating healthy foods at home and at regular intervals will help you control your blood sugar and blood pressure.