Promoting Health After Gestational Diabetes

Promoting Health After Gestational Diabetes | Food & Nutrition | Stone Soup
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November is National Diabetes Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness about diabetes and the impact it has on people.

The National Diabetes Month 2018 theme is about promoting health after gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. Usually the diabetes goes away after you deliver the baby. However, the mother is at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes within five to 10 years. In fact, around 50 percent of all mothers who had gestational diabetes go on to develop Type 2 diabetes. Not only is the mother affected; the baby that is born is also at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in life.

How to Promote Health After Gestational Diabetes

If you have had gestational diabetes, what can you do to lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes?

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) has four key messages for women who have had gestational diabetes.

  1. Get tested for type 2 diabetes
    After the baby is born, the gestational diabetes often goes away. However, as mentioned you are at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. Early detection of diabetes is key to managing diabetes. Therefore, it is important to get a blood sugar test for Type 2 diabetes within 12 weeks after your baby is born. If the test is normal, make sure to get tested for Type 2 diabetes every three years.
  2. Talk to your doctor
    If you plan to become pregnant again in the future it’s important that your doctor is aware that you have a history of gestational diabetes. Your doctor will make sure you are screened for gestational diabetes when you do become pregnant again and can monitor your health and your baby’s growth.
  3. Talk to your child’s doctor about your history of gestational diabetes
    If you’ve had gestational diabetes your child is at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes in life. It’s important that your child’s doctor is aware so that they can monitor your child’s health.
  4. Prevent or delay type 2 diabetes with healthy habits
    Since you are at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes it’s important that you keep healthy habits. Read below for some tips!

Healthy Habits to Prevent or Delay Type 2 Diabetes

Here are three healthy habits to help you prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes.  The key is to follow these habits consistently and think of them as a lifestyle change. It is the small, consistent changes that help us prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes.

  1. Eat the rainbow
    Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables will provide the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber that your body needs to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes. The greater the variety of colored vegetables you eat, the more variety of vitamins and minerals in your meals. Here are some examples: add some spinach to an egg omelette, sprinkle berries on yogurt, pack an apple for a mid-day snack, and have a side salad with dinner.
  2. Do 5 more minutes of physical activity each week
    Keeping active will help you reduce your risk for chronic diseases including diabetes. Physical activity helps increase insulin sensitivity, meaning that the insulin works more effectively and can result in better blood sugars. The recommended amount of physical activity is 150 minutes per week, or 30 minutes per day 5 days per week. Note that you can break the 30 minutes into 10 minute intervals throughout the day. You don’t have to go to the gym to be physically active. Walking, playing sports, house chores, gardening, shoveling snow and swimming all count!
  3. Manage stress
    Stress can affect your health in so many ways and may even play a role in increasing your diabetes risk. If you feel there is a high level of stress in your life, make sure to consult with your doctor or mental health counselor. Try to find some stress reducing techniques that work for you. This could be going for a walk, listening to music, drawing, solving a jigsaw puzzle, talking with a friend or taking a hot bath.
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Rahaf Al Bochi
Rahaf Al Bochi is a Registered Dietitian and owner of Olive Tree Nutrition LLC. She specializes in intuitive eating and diabetes prevention and management. She also has a special interest in the Mediterranean eating pattern. Rahaf is a media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. You can visit her online at Olive Tree Nutrition and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.