Posts Tagged ‘diet’

Gestational diabetes: How to control your blood sugar?

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that happens during pregnancy. It means that your body is not using a hormone called insulin the way it should, or your body is not making enough of it. When this happens your blood sugar increases. Having high blood sugar during pregnancy increases the risk of certain complications during pregnancy, including: preeclampsia, having a very large baby (macrosomia), premature birth, and having a c-section.

Here are some things you can do to help you manage and treat your gestational diabetes:

  • Prenatal care: Women who have gestational diabetes need to have more prenatal care checkups. This helps your healthcare provider verify that you and your baby are doing ok.
  • Monitor blood sugar: You will need to check your blood sugar regularly and keep a log. This can help your provider monitor your treatment. You may need to use a specific device to measure your blood sugar.
  • Eat healthy foods: Choosing healthy foods, eating the right portion sizes and having regular meals are key to help you control your blood sugar.
  • Being active: Physical activity helps regulate your blood sugar. Ask your provider how much and what type of activity is best for you. It’s ok for most women to do 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (like walking, riding a stationary bike) a day.
  • Medication: Your provider may recommend the use of insulin to control your blood sugar. In certain situations, an oral medication might be indicated. Your provider will give you more information according to your specific needs.

Healthy eating for gestational diabetes

The best way to make sure you are eating the right amount and types of food is to visit a registered dietitian nutritionist (also called RDN). A RDN can create an individualized nutritional plan tailored to your likes, dislikes, and your specific needs. Eating well is one of the most important steps in controlling your blood sugar and reducing the risks associated with gestational diabetes. Here are some things you can do:

  • Don’t skip meals. The best way to keep your blood sugar level from dropping or spiking is to eat regularly. This means not skipping meals. Make sure you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. You might also need to have 2-3 small snacks a day. The goal is to spread your calories during the day and avoid spending many hours without eating or eating too much in one meal.
  • Portion sizes. You will need to eat frequently, but you also need to be careful not to overeat. Learn about how many calories you need to eat every day and make sure you are eating the right portion sizes. For example, one small banana (about 6”) counts as one portion, while a big banana (about 9”) counts as two.
  • Learn about carbohydrates. You will need to keep track of the amount of carbohydrates you eat per meal. This is the first step in managing your blood sugar. Foods that contain carbohydrates are: fruits, rice, pasta, potatoes, bread, milk and beans, among many others. Your RDN can make a nutritional plan that specifies the portion sizes you need of each in your meals. Certain foods that contain carbohydrates and are also high in fiber are beans, lentils and oatmeal. These are a good source of carbohydrates for women with gestational diabetes. The fiber content in these foods and the type of carbohydrate takes longer to digest and will help your blood sugar stay within your target range.
  • Proteins and fat. Make sure you eat lean proteins like chicken breast, fish low in mercury, legumes, eggs, and low fat dairy products among others. About 20 percent of your calories should come from protein sources. Healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, almonds, and nuts are good choices. Limit the amount of butter, cream, high fat meats or fried foods.
  • Vegetables are your best friend. Make sure you eat plenty of vegetables and leafy greens every day. Be adventurous and try new recipes. You might get inspired while you visit the farmers market. Ask about how to cook vegetables you’re not familiar with or ask for recipes. You might get great suggestions. Eat a variety of colors like spinach, cauliflower, yellow squash, pumpkin, beets, etc. This will help you consume a variety of nutrients too.
  • It’s ok to use artificial sweeteners. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) sugar substitutes such as aspartame, stevia, sucralose and acesulfame potassium are thought to be safe to eat in moderate amounts during pregnancy. Women with a metabolic disorder known as phenylketonuria (PKU) should not have aspartame (sold as NutraSweet® or Equal®) because it contains the amino acid (phenylalanine) that their bodies can’t break down.
  • Limit or avoid certain foods. Avoid foods that are concentrated on added or simple sugars like sodas, desserts, cookies, candies, fruit juice, dried fruits, syrups, honey, agave syrup, among others. These types of foods have very low or no nutritional value, and will increased your blood sugar. Limit them as much as possible.


Breastfeeding and your diet

Monday, August 29th, 2016

mom breastfeedingWe received a question from a new mom asking if there are certain things she should eat while breastfeeding. Or more importantly, are there things she should avoid? The answer is that most likely, your milk will be just what your baby needs, even if your diet isn’t perfect. But eating healthy foods is still important in order to take care of yourself and your new baby.

The dietary restrictions you had during your pregnancy will not apply while you are breastfeeding. But you will still need to limit your intake of alcohol, caffeine and foods containing mercury.

What about allergies?

Most breastfed babies do not have allergic reactions to their mom’s milk. However, the proteins from foods such as cow’s milk and peanuts do pass through breast milk so if your family has a history of food allergies, you may want to discuss this with your Lactation Consultant. If you have a family history of food allergies, be sure to watch your baby for any allergic reactions such as green, mucus-like stools with signs of blood.

So what should you eat? The La Leche League International has these great ideas:

  • A well-balanced diet – choose meals with whole grains, vegetables, fruits, milk products and proteins (eg. lean meats, fish and eggs)
  • High-calorie foods – breastfeeding burns calories, so add in peanut or nut butters, olive or canola oils, whole-milk cheeses and yogurts
  • Easy to handle meals – with your baby in one arm you may find yourself only having one hand available to use for feeding yourself. Simple finger food types of meals will be easier to manage.
  • Large recipes – make or ask your family and friends to provide large dishes or casseroles so you can freeze leftovers.

Bottom line:

By breastfeeding you are providing your baby with the best start. And by maintaining a healthy diet you will be better able to take care of yourself, as you tend to your new bundle. if you have questions about your diet while breastfeeding, reach out to a Lactation Consultant.

An unpleasant part of pregnancy

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

woman-walking1Pregnancy is usually a wonderful time in a woman’s life. But, unfortunately, there are certain changes that many women experience that are bothersome or even painful. Constipation is a fairly common complaint during pregnancy. Constipation is when you have difficulty having a bowel movement, or do not have one for several days. It can be due to your diet, changing hormones, too much iron in a vitamin pill, or from the pressure of your baby. Whatever the cause, it is not fun.

Here are some tips that may help with constipation:

• Drink more water.
• Avoid caffeine.
• Choose plenty of fiber-rich foods, including fruits, raw veggies, beans and whole grains.
• Juices, such as prune juice, can help, too.
• Move more and sit less. Regular activity, such as walking, can help a lot.
• Ask your prenatal health care provider if you can switch to a different prenatal vitamin (perhaps one with low or no iron).

Pregnant women who suffer from constipation often have hemorrhoids, too. These are painful and itchy enlarged veins in the rectal area. Constipation can make these swollen, itchy veins worse. Talk to your doctor about using creams and suppositories to provide relief. But, do not take laxatives or mineral oil unless our doctor prescribes them. The tips to relieve constipation (above) will also help with hemorhoids. You can read more about this uncomfortable aspect of pregnancy on our website.

To learn more about healthy eating during pregnancy,visit our website.

Hopefully, with a little more attention to your diet and lifestyle, you will feel much better.

HCG diet – is it a good idea?

Monday, April 4th, 2011

The baby has arrived and is growing, but you’d like to be shrinking a little faster.  It takes time to get back to your previous weight and crash diets, while tempting, aren’t really good for you.  It seems the diet fad of the day is the HCG diet. Claims of rapid weight loss and a flat tummy and tush have made this diet quite popular again. But does it work and is it safe? Not so much.

HCG, human chorionic gonadotropin, is a hormone that a woman’s body produces during pregnancy. It sometimes is given to women who have fertility issues. HCG was first proposed to be used as part of a weight loss plan in the 1950s. The HCG diet combines either injections, or nowadays supplements of the HCG hormone (lozenges), with a severely restricted calorie intake – roughly 500 calories per day.  Sure, at 500 calories per day you will lose weight, regardless of what supplement you may be taking, but is that safe? No. As with other crash diets, it is unlikely that you will meet your body’s nutritional needs over time, especially if you’re breastfeeding, through only 500 calories per day. And rapid weight loss can lead to gallstones which can be excruciatingly painful.

Prescription HCG was developed to help women overcome fertility problems. It can have unpleasant side effects, like headaches and fatigue. It was not made for use as a diet drug and has not been approved by the FDA for this purpose. In searching professional literature, no reliable studies have proved that HCG has any weight loss properties, despite years of study.  The best way to lose the baby weight is to eat healthy, exercise and be patient.  It was a good thing to gain that weight while you were pregnant because it helped you have a healthy baby.  But remember you didn’t put that weight on overnight — it took 9 months to gain it and it will most likely take a few months or more to lose it.

ADHD and pesticides in food

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

strawberriesChildren exposed to certain pesticides are at increased risk of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This was the finding of a  new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics. More research is needed to confirm this finding. But meanwhile, you can take steps to reduce your children’s exposure to pesticides.

Diet is a major source of pesticide exposure for children. For instance, celery, frozen blueberries and strawberries can contain pesticides.

To protect your children, wash all fruits and vegetables with water. Use only produce that is in season. If you can, avoid fruits and vegetables that have been treated with pesticides.

For more, read the March of Dimes article on pesticides.

Breastfeeding and weight loss

Monday, January 4th, 2010

19209285_thbThere are lots of good reasons to breastfeed, but this one is my all time favorite. Breastfeeding may help you lose the weight gained in pregnancy. According to experts, women who breastfeed exclusively for more than 3 months lose more weight than those who do not. I personally benefited from nursing and was back to my pre-pregnancy weight by six months. I should also mention that after I got my doctor’s OK, I started to do a lot walking each day and continued to watch my diet. My appetite went through the roof though, so it was really difficult to eat healthy all of the time. Especially because I was craving cookies night and day. I never had such a sweet tooth in my life! The My Plate for Moms was a big help. If you’re breastfeeding check it out to help choose the right amount and type of food you should be eating.


Friday, January 1st, 2010

90915564_thbIf your baby cries and cries, no matter how you try to comfort her, the cause may be colic. About one-in-five babies develop colic – usually between one and four months of age. They cry constantly, often extending or pulling up their legs, or passing gas. Sometimes their tummies are enlarged with air and gas from crying. There’s no one cause of colic, but there are many different ways to ease your baby’s discomfort. One way is to walk her in a soft-sided baby carrier that you strap to the front of your body. You can also try laying her tummy-down across your knees and gently rubbing her back. The pressure against her tummy may relieve her discomfort. Breastfeeding moms can ask their pediatricians about a change in diet or eliminating specific foods since your baby’s colic may stem from . Keep in mind that colic usually disappears by four months of age, no matter what treatments you try. For more information from American Academy of Pediatrics, click here .

New Year’s Resolutions

Monday, December 28th, 2009

30320866_thbNew Year’s is a time for reflecting on the past, and more importantly, looking forward to the coming year. For some, it’s about making a fresh start. It’s a time to think about the changes we want or need to make. Change is never easy. Whether it’s loosing weight, eating healthier, or quitting smoking, here are some tips for following through on those resolutions.

Be realistic by setting achievable goals. Winning the lottery, for example, is out of your hands. Instead, give to others. Be a better neighbor or volunteer at a local charity.

Describe your resolutions in specific terms. Instead of “I don’t want to be lazy,” opt for “I want to exercise regularly” or “I will cut back on watching TV.”

Break down large goals into smaller ones. For instance, commit to losing weight by resolving to join a gym and improve your eating habits. Buddy up with friends for support.

Find alternatives to a behavior that you want to change, and make this part of your resolution plan. You want to quit smoking, but you smoked to relax yourself. What other forms of relaxation are available to you? Talk to your health care provider about it, too.

Above all, aim for things that are truly important to you, not what you think you ought to do or what others expect of you. This is especially important if you want the change to last over time. Do it for you. You’re worth it.

Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!

What’s for dinner?

Monday, November 9th, 2009

722716_thbI’m at the point now where I ask myself that question almost on a daily basis. I think it’s safe to say that this has become a really bad habit. I’ve run out of ideas and I’m bored with what I make. Pasta. Chicken. Fish. Repeat. I like to shop for fresh veggies and meats, but end up throwing a lot of it away because with only two people we just don’t get to all of it. I hate wasting food. In a perfect world I would have the energy to plan our meals each week — a variety of healthy dishes that taste delicious and are effortless to prepare. I would make batches of things and freeze them. But sadly, I don’t do these things. On nights when my husband works late I usually just pour myself a bowl of cereal and call it a day. Now that I’m introducing solids into my daughter’s diet I need to work on my culinary skills and get organized. I want her to develop healthy eating habits right from the start and I know that I’m the one responsible for establishing that. I wish cooking didn’t feel like such a chore though. Maybe I should take a class. What are you having for dinner?

34 dieting products and other supplements recalled

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Over 30 dietary supplements aimed at helping people lose weight have recently been recalled, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The products were found to contain Sibutramine, which can reduce appetite. Sibutramine can increase blood pressure and pulse rate. It may pose a major risk for patients who have certain heart conditions.

For a complete list of the recalled products, click here.

This recall is yet another reminder that dietary supplements can sometimes be unsafe.

The March of Dimes believes women who can become pregnant, pregnant women, and children should not use dietary supplements , without approval by a health care provider. While some supplements and herbal ingredients have undergone extensive testing, the safety and effectiveness of many have not been demonstrated.

One more thing: Women should never try to lose weight while pregnant unless their health care provider recommends it.