One of the things I’m most proud of in my practice is the remarkably low rates of gestational diabetes among my patient group. Pregnancy-related diabetes, like type 2 diabetes, is a growing concern in Australia and its diagnosis is increasing at a rate of about 5% per year. It is often dismissed as being a result of the hormones of pregnancy, but the reality is that almost all women, even those with an increased risk, will avoid developing gestational diabetes if they are given the right information and make the best choices before and during pregnancy.
An area of concern for us at Fertile Ground are the recommendations given to women once they are diagnosed with poor glucose control, usually in their 28th week of pregnancy. A standard list of recommended foods we regularly see include foods known to be high in sugar, as well as generally being very carbohydrate-heavy in their recommendations, with little regard for quality proteins, vegetables and good fats.
From our combined clinical practice, as well as from a multitude of scientific literature, we understand that the best way to avoid gestational diabetes as well as the best way to minimise its impact when it has been diagnosed, is to eat a low GI diet of quality proteins (e.g. eggs, meat, fish, chicken, full-fat yoghurt, tofu and especially nuts & seeds), good fats (avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts butters), alongside genuinely complex carbohydrates (vegetables, beans, chickpeas, lentils, quinoa, barley, whole oats & barley are best). Breads, pastas, rice and crackers are just not necessary, and I often see women come in with poor blood glucose results baffled & upset, only to identify a meal the previous night heavy in carbs and low in protein and good fats.
As naturopaths we are fortunate to have at hand a number of safe & effective herbal & nutritional medicines to assist with blood sugar regulation, enhanced insulin sensitivity, and (potentially most importantly!) to help reducing sugar & carb cravings. We recommend all our patients follow a healthy diet during their pregnancy, and consult with one of our naturopaths at regular intervals to ensure they are achieving optimal nutrition for their baby’s specific stage of development. We also highly recommended a consultation if a woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes, as this consistently leads to significantly better outcomes, including the minimisation of the need for insulin injections and further intervention.
As we come up to the holiday season, this is something worth keeping in mind. While we do understand most of you will be likely to take a day or two off from your usual healthy lifestyles (which you’ve all adopted by now right!?), we all want to put our health & fertility first! As I say about the holiday season, minimise the drawbacks; maximize the benefits! So make sure you’re eating a wide variety of the good foods, you’ve hopefully come to love with our help, and keep the treats to be just what they were intended for: the occasional indulgence!
Rhiannon Hardingham, FGHG Naturopath & Nutritionist
Underpinning Rhiannon’s work is a passion for health and a belief that every child deserves the best start in life. Thorough and approachable, Rhiannon’s commitment to understanding each person as an individual is much appreciated by her patients. Rhiannon is committed to the successful integration of natural and conventional medicine, and believes ideal outcomes are achieved for patients when all their health care providers are working together. She incorporates the use of lifestyle counselling, nutritional supplementation and herbal medicine to achieve optimum results for each individual patient.