Some evidence suggests that eating a low-glycemic diet during pregnancy may cut the risks of complications before delivery, such as gestational diabetes. It may also reduce the chances of having a high birth weight infant, which may play a role in the development of certain health problems later in his life such as obesity, reports "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition." Low glycemic, or GI, foods are those that release glucose slowly and have a lower ranking on the GI scale. Talk with your obstetrician about whether a low GI diet is right for you.
Plan ahead. Using the glycemic index of foods, plan your meals and snacks for a week or two. This reduces the risk of eating high glycemic foods as you will have the items you need on hand. Carry your glycemic index of foods with you when shopping so you can refer to it if you are unsure about the status of a certain food.
Choose whole grains. They are less processed than refined grains and contain more nutrients that are important for you and your developing baby. In addition, the carbohydrates in whole grains are typically considered complex, which means they provide longer lasting energy because the glucose they contain is digested over time. Good options include 100 percent whole wheat bread and pasta, oatmeal, barley, cracked or sprouted whole wheat products, high bran cereals, buckwheat and couscous. Avoid white bread and rice, cornflakes, instant oatmeal, pretzels, popcorn and rice cakes.
Eat plenty of vegetables. Low GI options include peas, corn, carrots, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, red peppers, onions, mushrooms, cabbage, sweet potatoes and lima beans. Avoid potatoes and pumpkin, both of which are considered high GI.
Incorporate fruit. In addition to containing many nutrients that are vital for the health of your baby, most options are low on the glycemic index. Watermelon and dates are two to avoid, but cherries, plums, coconuts, kiwis, oranges, strawberries, grapefruit, prunes and peaches are good options.
Choose plenty of low-fat dairy foods. Not only do they contain calcium for your growing baby's bones, but most options are low GI. Yogurt, cottage cheese and milk are healthy choices and ice cream in moderation is OK, but is considered a medium GI food.
Avoid beef, hot dogs, pork and lamb, all of which are high in the GI index. Instead eat chicken, white fish species, such as cod and flounder, shellfish and turkey. Beans are a healthy meat alternative and many are low GI, including kidney beans, pinto beans, lentils and black-eyed peas.
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; Effect of a Low-Glycemic-Index Diet During Pregnancy on Obstetric Outcomes; Robert G. Moses, et.al.; October 2006
- Family Education: Your Pregnancy Diet
- American Diabetes Association: The Glycemic Index of Foods
- The GI Diet Guide: High, Medium and Low GI Foods