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February 1, 2001

Family Planning, Meal Planning, Food and Diet

Question from Kuwait:

I am seven months pregnant and have diabetes. What is the type of food and fruits I should eat?


Having diabetes does not change your nutritional needs. The same foods that were healthy choices for you before you developed diabetes and before pregnancy are still your best choices. As for fruits, they are nutritionally valuable, but because of their high carbohydrate content, you should probably consume them in several small portions throughout the day, rather than eating a large amount at any one time.

In addition to your own normal nutritional needs for calories, protein, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, you now have extra needs related to the baby growing inside you. During the second and third trimesters of your pregnancy, you need about 300 calories over and above your -pre-pregnancy food intake. Those calories should be spent on good sources of protein (like meat, fish, poultry or eggs), calcium (like milk or yogurt), vitamin C (like citrus fruit and berries), iron (red meat and green leafy vegetables), folic acid (more green leafy vegetables and other plant foods), and zinc (whole grains). Those are the specific nutrients which you need more of because of your pregnancy. It is quite common for health care providers to recommend that pregnant women take a multiple vitamin and mineral supplements designed especially for pregnancy in addition to these healthful food choices — as a sort of insurance policy.

In order to maintain excellent blood sugar control (extremely important for the healthy development of the baby) while eating these necessary foods, you need to be checking your blood sugar values regularly. Checking before and after each meal, as well as at bedtime, is often recommended during pregnancy.

Small, frequent feedings that each contain modest amounts of carbohydrate together with some protein and fat, are often helpful in leveling out blood sugars. If blood sugars after eating are higher than the target range, even when you distribute your carbohydrate foods (breads, grains, fruits, milk, sweets) evenly throughout the day, it may be necessary to start or adjust insulin doses to reestablish the excellent blood sugar control needed during pregnancy.

Some women find it particularly hard to control blood sugar after the morning meal, and find they must limit carbohydrate even more closely at breakfast than at other meals. Your after-breakfast blood sugar results will show if this is the case for you.