The Best Diet to  Prevent Gestational Diabetes

Research consistently shows following a Mediterranean diet before or during pregnancy reduces the risk and may prevent gestational diabetes by 15-38%. Gestational Diabetes is one of the most common complications associated with pregnancy. GDM is diabetes or sugar (glucose) intolerance that occurs for the first time during pregnancy. The condition occurs in 15-20% of pregnancies, and rates are rising.

Ginger Cochran, MS, RDN, CDCES, CEP

Research consistently shows following a Mediterranean diet before or during pregnancy reduces the risk and may prevent gestational diabetes by 15-38%. Gestational Diabetes is one of the most common complications associated with pregnancy. GDM is diabetes or sugar (glucose) intolerance that occurs for the first time during pregnancy. The condition occurs in 15-20% of pregnancies, and rates are rising.

Gestational Diabetes is a concern in pregnancy due to complications associated with elevated blood sugars. GDM is associated with pre-eclampsia, large infant birth weight, stillbirth, cesarean birth, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

Factors that increase the likelihood that someone will get Gestational Diabetes include being overweight or obese, being older than 25, gaining too much weight in pregnancy, and certain ethnicity, including Hispanic, South or Southeast Asian, Pacific Islander, and Indigenous Australian.

The Mediterranean diet constantly shows the benefits of decreasing the risk for several conditions, including gestational diabetes. Below are a few dietary tips to easily follow the Mediterranean diet.

  • Use Extra virgin olive oil as your main source of fat.
    • Recommendation: use extra virgin olive oil to finish your veggies or salads
  • Eat a handful of nuts a day. Research shows walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts are particularly beneficial.
    • Recommendation: keep portions-sized nut bags in your bag for easy snacks. If you’re allergic to nuts, try seeds like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or chia seeds instead.
  • Include two servings of vegetables at every meal (about 1-2 cups).
    • Recommendation: if you’re having difficulty getting vegetables in, try smoothies with 2 cups of vegetables like spinach or celery and 1 cup of berries like cherries or strawberries with 1 cup of water or unsweetened milk.
  • Choose wholegrain high-fiber grains only. Pick grains with a minimum of 3g of fiber per serving.
    • Recommendation: Check the nutrition label on all grain products and avoid products with refined flours like rice, refined wheat flour, tapioca flour, and potato starch
  • Eat two servings (about 2 cups) of fruit per day. (no juice)
    • Recommendation: Choose berries like blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries most often.
  • Eat less than one serving per week of red meat, sausage, deli meat, ham, or other processed meat.
    • All processed meats can increase inflammation and be poor for health. Choose fresher cut meats like chicken breast or eggs instead.
  • Consume fish (salmon, cod, halibut, sardines, or other smaller fish) 2 times a week.
    • Recommendation: if you don’t like fish. Talk to your obstetrician about supplementing with omega-3s

Sources

  1. “Mediterranean diet and prevention of gestational diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and observational studies” – Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212267219302035
  2. “Mediterranean Diet and Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies” – Nutrients: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/7/2058
  3. “Mediterranean Diet During Pregnancy and Risk of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies” – Nutrients: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/6/1701
  4. “Dietary Interventions for Gestational Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” – Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212267219310737
  5. “The role of a Mediterranean diet in prevention and management of gestational diabetes” – Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168822719311434
  6. American Diabetes Association: Gestational Diabetes. https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/gestational-diabetes
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Gestational Diabetes. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/gestational.html
  8. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Gestational Diabetes. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/gestational
  9. March of Dimes: Gestational Diabetes. https://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/gestational-diabetes.aspx
  10. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Gestational Diabetes. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/gestational-diabetes
  11. What is an obstetrician https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22303-obstetrician

Website | + posts

Ginger Cochran is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, functional medicine practitioner, Certified Diabetes Educator & Care Specialist, Certified Wellness Coach, Certified Exercise Physiologist, and owner of Nutritious Ginger, an integrative and functional nutrition practice focusing on full body self-care and nourishment. Ginger’s primary specialty is women’s health, with a special emphasis on gestational diabetes, weight management, infertility, digestive wellness, and overall health + happiness.
Ginger serves on the board of director for the Nutrition Care Manual by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

More
articles