How Many Carbs Can I Have in a Gestational Diabetes Snack?

High Carb Snack Food

If you have gestational diabetes, don't try this at home!

The Gestational Diabetes Snack

Eating the right foods is not the only important part of managing gestational diabetes.  We must strive to keep a steady supply of proteins and carbs throughout the day.  This means having three small meals and at least two small snacks, spaced evenly all day long.  Since you’re having two of them per day, your gestational diabetes snacks are pretty important in the scheme of things.

When I was first diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I was really upset with myself.  I felt like I should have done more to prevent it this time around.  I discovered after delivering a 9 pound, 10 ounce baby in 2010 that I had undiagnosed gestational diabetes with her.  We nearly lost her from the rough delivery and her difficulty breathing afterward.  I vowed to do a better job of taking care of myself this pregnancy after coming so close to tragedy last time.

So when the diagnosis came at a mere 20 weeks this time, I was more than a little discouraged.  But when it comes to the health of our babies, we mothers learn to put feelings aside and do what is best.  As I write this, I am 28 weeks pregnant and I’m happy to say things are going okay.  Not great, but okay.  I have spikes after eating foods I think should be acceptable, but for the most part my blood sugar levels are staying in check by counting carbs.  In fact, I weigh two pounds less than I did when I first got pregnant.  That sure helps the motivation factor.

How Many Carbs in a Gestational Diabetes Snack?

The typical recommendation for snacks is 15-30 grams of carbs.  It is important to always pair carbs with proteins to help slow down the breakdown of sugars from the carbs.  For me personally, 15-20 carbs work but I start seeing spikes if I stray too far above that.  You will need to monitor, monitor and monitor some more to find out exactly what will work for you, but 15-30 carbs is a good guideline to begin with.  Keep a food journal, either on paper or in a spreadsheet, that documents what you eat, how many carbs, and what your blood sugar levels are.  This will help guide your food choices as your pregnancy progresses.

Gestational Diabetes and the Dawn Phenomenon

Another important factor in blood sugar control for gestational diabetes is the dawn phenomenon, an occurrence that can cause your blood sugar to spike in the morning, before you’ve even eaten.  Be sure to have a small snack before bedtime to help keep your glucose levels on an even keel throughout the night and, more importantly, throughout the next day.  Follow the same number of carbs for this gestational diabetes snack as you do for your daytime snacks, at about 15-30 grams.

Blood Glucose Levels After Snacking

Your doctor or dietitian may offer different advice, but usually you want to aim for a blood glucose reading of no more than 140 one hour after eating, or 120 if you test two hours after eating.  If you have trouble remembering to check your blood sugar on time, try setting a kitchen timer or alarm on your cell phone.  In general, I think it is easier to check at the one-hour interval, before getting too caught up in doing something else.

While being diagnosed with gestational diabetes is discouraging, it is a condition that you have control over.  As far as pregnancy conditions go, I would much rather have gestational diabetes than a more serious disease I can do nothing to manage.  Getting right in your mind from the start about how important managing your gestational diabetes can be will help you stay the course during times of frustration.  And while you may have long days that make you feel like it isn’t worth the sacrifice, try to remember that the typical length of gestational diabetes is a mere 12 weeks.  What’s 12 weeks compared to the long life you are helping to provide your baby?

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/o5com/5107660404/

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