Diabetes Diet and Exercise?

I have diabetes. What is the best diet and exercise regime while pregnant?
profile picture of Vera T. Fajtova, MD, endocrinologist at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Boston and assistant professor of clinical medicine at Harvard University
ByVera T. Fajtova, MD, endocrinologist at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Boston and assistant professor of clinical medicine at Harvard University
Endocrinologist
Updated
Feb 2017
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Coming into pregnancy as a diabetic is no easy task, and it’s important to make sure you’re getting the appropriate high-risk care as well as paying attention to diet and exercise. If you have type 2 diabetes, what and how often you eat will have a bigger effect on your health. Focus on having small, frequent and well-balanced meals, keeping an eye on your carbohydrate consumption. Aim for a minimum of 140 grams of carbs a day, or about 10 servings (a serving is about 15 grams; that’s about the amount you’d find in one slice of bread, half a banana, 1/3 cup of rice, half a cup of pasta, an apple, 2/3 cup of peas, a cup of broccoli, a small container of low-fat yogurt, or a cup of fat-free milk. Try to focus on whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta, etc.) instead of refined, and include plenty of fruits and veggies.

If you have type 1 diabetes, it’s still important to eat a healthy diet, but note you may need to adjust your insulin levels, and you can expect your needs to increase as your pregnancy progresses. No matter what type of diabetes you have, it’s important to speak with a nutritionist, who can help you figure out a safe and nutritious diet that will be healthy for both you and your growing baby.

Exercise is also important; type 2 diabetics who exercise regularly require far less medication than those who don’t, and that still holds true during pregnancy. If you’re not used to sweating it out on a regular basis, this isn’t the time to start, but unless your doctor says otherwise, aim for at least 15 minutes of exercise once or twice day, ideally a low-impact exercise like brisk walking, swimming or cycling on a recumbent bike. Taking a walk after a meal, by the way, can help control your sugar levels.

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