Chris Cheyette, registered dietitian, and bestselling author has recently published a new guide on gestational diabetes.  The book, titled Carbs & Cals Gestational Diabetes, is a go-to-guide for any women diagnosed with this condition.  The new book uses the highly-visual, tried-and-tested Carbs & Cals format, ensuring all information is practical and easy to implement.

Chris explains the condition and rationale for the new book:

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that affects pregnant women commonly in their second or third trimester, and usually goes away after birth.

It is usually diagnosed by a blood test between 24-28 weeks. If you have had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy then you will normally be tested earlier on in your pregnancy.

Glucose is needed by the body to provide energy, and levels of glucose are controlled by the hormone insulin. After eating a meal containing carbohydrate, blood glucose levels rise. This causes insulin to be produced, which allows glucose to be used up by cells or stored for later use. When you are pregnant, your body produces high levels of hormones to support the growth of your baby. Some of these hormones stop insulin working as well as it normally does. Usually, the body responds by increasing the amount of insulin it produces. However, some women do not produce enough of this extra insulin, or the insulin produced is not used by the body (known as ‘insulin resistance’). This leads to high glucose levels in the blood and a diagnosis of gestational diabetes.

Risk factors for Gestational Diabetes
You are at an increased risk if you:

  • are overweight or obese
  • have had gestational diabetes before
  • have had a very large baby in a previous pregnancy (4.5kg/10lb or over)
  • have a family history of diabetes (parent, brother or sister)
  • are from a South Asian, Black or African Caribbean or Middle Eastern background.
    (Source Diabetes UK website 2018)

What does it mean for me, my baby and my pregnancy?

The more glucose there is in your blood, the more your baby will be exposed to. This extra glucose puts your baby at risk of growing too large, which may lead to a more difficult delivery for both you and your baby. If not managed properly, persistent high blood glucose levels carry other risk factors including prematurity, your baby having low blood glucose levels and your baby having a higher risk of being overweight or developing type 2 diabetes in later life.

However, gestational diabetes can be treated successfully and doesn’t have to take over your pregnancy, or affect the health of your baby. It will probably mean a change to your expected pregnancy experience and there are likely to be changes to your birthing plan. There will be more trips to your healthcare team (look at this as a chance to check-in with your baby more, thanks to regular scans), testing of your blood glucose levels at home and a greater focus on your diet, which is also likely to see changes. These are all important, to ensure you and your baby are kept healthy throughout your pregnancy.

What treatment is available?

The primary treatment for gestational diabetes is diet and exercise, as both have a direct impact on blood glucose levels. When diet and exercise aren’t enough to keep blood sugar levels within the normal range, you may need medication and/or insulin. For some women, medication may need to be started at diagnosis.

 What you can eat to manage your diabetes?

When it comes to diet for gestational diabetes, the spotlight is on carbohydrate, as it is the main nutrient that causes a rise in blood glucose levels. During digestion, foods containing carbohydrate are broken down by the body into glucose. In other words, ‘sugar’. Glucose is the body’s main source of energy (and the brain’s preferred source of energy), so we still need some in the diet. But to control blood glucose levels, the focus needs to be on the type and amount of carbohydrate in the diet.  On diagnosis you should be referred to a registered dietitian who will discuss your current diet and exercise and help you to understand what changes may be beneficial.  

Carbs & Cals Gestational Diabetes

The rationale for ‘Carbs & Cals Gestational Diabetes’ was to make a highly visual go to guide to help women with portion control, meal planning and snack ideas. The book covers information on; the amount and type of carbs to consume, glycaemic index, swap ideas, vitamin supplements, caffeine, hydration, food safety, and also advice for women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who are planning pregnancies. The bulk of the book hosts 80 recipes, 14 daily meal plans and 20 snacks. Finally, there are 430 photos of individual foods and ingredients, inspiring women to create their own carb-controlled meals and snacks. The book is officially supported by Diabetes UK.

For more information about Carbs & Cals Gestational diabetes visit https://www.carbsandcals.com/books/gestational-diabetes