Gestational Diabetes and Your Diet 

If you have gestational diabetes, it is important to focus on your diet. What you eat can have a big…(continue reading)

If you have gestational diabetes, it is important to focus on your diet.

What you eat can have a big impact on your blood sugar levels and on the health of your baby.

Maintaining your blood sugar levels in the right range overnight can be difficult but sometimes a healthy bedtime snack can help.

In this article, we will discuss some of the best foods to eat when you have gestational diabetes, as well as some snacks to avoid.

We will also talk about how glucose levels change overnight with gestational diabetes and even list some bedtime snack ideas so you maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes, also called diabetes mellitus, is a group of diseases that cause you to have too much sugar in your blood.

Blood sugar is also called glucose and is used by your cells to make energy.

To do this, your cells need the help of the hormone insulin to process the glucose.

When your body stops making or responding to insulin, your blood glucose levels soar.

This can lead to a number of medical problems including eye damage, kidney damage, cardiovascular disease, and if left untreated, even death.

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that can occur when you are pregnant.

It happens when your body can’t make enough insulin to handle the extra glucose in the blood during pregnancy.

There is no known cause of gestational diabetes but it usually carries some form of insulin resistance, which means your body stops responding to insulin which will cause a rise in your blood glucose levels.

Typically your doctor will order a blood test between the 24th and 28th weeks of gestation to diagnose gestational diabetes and it affects approximately 3% to 9% of pregnancies worldwide.

Gestational diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born but it can increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes later on in life for both you and your child.

How does gestational diabetes differ from other forms of diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is different from other forms of diabetes because it only happens during pregnancy.

Other forms of diabetes, such as type 1 and type 2, can happen at any age and are not related to pregnancy.

Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in childhood or adolescence and occurs when the body stops making insulin altogether.

Type 2 diabetes typically develops in adulthood and is when the body becomes insulin resistant.

What are the symptoms of gestational diabetes?

Most women with gestational diabetes have no symptoms, which is why it is important to get tested for it sometime between your 24th and 28th weeks.

Some women may have symptoms similar to other forms of diabetes and these common symptoms include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Excessive hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased infections, especially yeast infections
  • Weight loss, even when eating more
  • Fatigue

If you have any of these symptoms while pregnant and have not been diagnosed with gestational diabetes please see your doctor or health care provider.

Why is your diet important for gestational diabetes?

What you eat and how much you eat can affect your blood glucose levels.

If you have gestational diabetes, it’s important to control your blood sugar levels by eating healthy foods and staying at a healthy weight.

Eating the right foods will help keep your blood sugar levels in the target range.

How do glucose levels change overnight with gestational diabetes?

There are two processes that change your glucose levels while you sleep.

These processes are the dawn phenomenon and the Somogyi effect and we will detail both below.

Dawn phenomenon

The dawn phenomenon is when your blood sugar levels naturally rise in the morning, usually from about 3 a.m. until about 8 a.m, and is a part of the waking-up process.

This happens because your body starts to release hormones overnight that raise your morning blood sugar levels.

Somogyi effect

The Somogyi effect is when you have low blood sugar levels during the night but wake up with high blood sugar levels in the morning.

High blood sugar in the morning happens because your body overcompensates for low blood sugar levels when sleeping by releasing hormones that raise your blood sugar levels too high.

If you eat a healthy snack before bed you can help control your blood sugar levels overnight.

You may also benefit from monitoring and taking readings of your glucose levels at various points in the night to understand how your body is working while you sleep.

What should I eat when I have gestational diabetes?

When you have gestational diabetes, it’s important to eat healthy foods that will help control your blood sugar levels.

You should focus on eating mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein. Limiting sugary drinks, foods with high sugar content, processed foods, and unhealthy fats are important.

However, healthy fats, which are found in foods like avocados, seeds, and nuts, are good for a balanced diet.

You can also pay attention to portion size as it is also important for a balanced, healthy diet to avoid overeating.

If you are craving carbohydrates, try to eat complex carbohydrates which can be found in whole grains, starchy vegetables, brown rice, and legumes to name a few.

What is a good snack to have before bed when you have gestational diabetes?

The ideal bedtime snack when you have gestational diabetes is one that will help control your blood sugar levels overnight.

Although there has been very little study on which snacks are best, it is believed the ideal bedtime snack should follow the guidelines for a healthy diet by having lean protein, healthy fat, and complex carbohydrates while adhering to the correct portion sizes.

Some good options include:

  • A small bowl of oatmeal with berries
  • A slice of whole-wheat toast with almond butter or peanut butter
  • A small cup of yogurt with fruit
  • A handful of nuts or seeds
  • Whole-wheat crackers or whole-grain crackers with cheese
  • A hard-boiled egg
  • Blueberries with cottage cheese; you can substitute other fruit or berries too 
  • Vegetables like celery and baby carrots with hummus
  • Fruit and cheese
  • Greek yogurt with fruit
  • Popcorn
  • Roasted chickpeas

These are just a few ideas, but it’s important to find something that works for you and your body.

Gestational Diabetes Bedtime Snack Pregnancy and Postpartum TV

If you have gestational diabetes, talk to your doctor or health care team about seeing a dietician who can create a personalized diet for you.

Summary

If you have gestational diabetes, it’s important to control your blood sugar levels by eating healthy foods and staying at a healthy weight.

Eating the right foods will help keep your blood sugar levels in the target range.

You should focus on eating mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein. Limiting sugary drinks, processed foods, and unhealthy fats is key as these food items can cause blood glucose spikes.

A good snack to have before bed when you have gestational diabetes is one that will help control your blood sugar levels overnight and we have listed several options above.

If you have any more questions please talk to your doctor, health care team, or dietician about how you can manage your blood sugar levels.

References and Sources:

Australian Prescriber

The Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Care 

Fact Checked and Editorial Process

Diabetic.org is devoted to producing expert and accurate articles and information for our readers by hiring experts, journalists, medical professionals, and our growing Diabetic.org community. We encourage you to read more about our content, editing, and fact checking methods here. This was fact checked by Erik Rivera and medically reviewed by Dr. Angel Rivera

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