Slimming world and gestational diabetes
Following a few questions around Slimming World and gestational diabetes in our Facebook support group, I thought it would be worthwhile to create a post about this.
With Slimming World being a weight loss plan approved for use during pregnancy, backed by the Royal College of Midwives, it is inevitable that many of our members may have been following a Slimming World plan or may have been advised to look into the plan for weight loss purposes if they have high BMI and have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
The only suitable plan from Slimming World for use during pregnancy is their Food Optimising, Extra Easy plan.
One thing to note is that although this plan has been approved with the RCM, it will not be based on the dietary requirements of controlling and lowering blood sugar levels and so Slimming World and gestational diabetes may prove problematic for those trying to follow it.
The Extra Easy food optimising plan is suitable for diabetics, but as many women with gestational diabetes will find, what is suitable for other types of diabetes doesn't work well for those with gestational diabetes in our experience.
Comparing Slimming World and gestational diabetes diet
On Slimming World Extra Easy food optimising plan you will be:-
- Eating high amounts, or unlimited amounts of many types of fruit, vegetables and some starchy carbohydrates as 'free foods'
- Eating low fat or fat free
- Limiting dairy and fibre intake by having a set amount of 'healthy extras' a day
- Counting and limiting certain foods with 'syns': Allowing up to a certain amount of 'syns' a day
Let's compare, with gestational diabetes diet:-
- Eating low amounts of unrefined complex starchy carbohydrates at every meal and you may possibly struggle to tolerate ANY fruit what-so-ever
- Eating good natural fats
- Eating high amounts of protein
- There's no need to be limiting dairy intake as things like full fat yoghurt, cheese and cream etc. will become saviours in helping to tolerate the carbs better when food pairing and so sticking to a limited amount of healthy extra options will not suffice.
- Fibre wise you need to be eating plenty of leafy greens and unrefined complex starchy carbs in small amounts and so sticking to set amount of healthy extra options will not suffice.
- Counting and limiting certain foods as 'syns': 15 'syns' are not enough for you to have the additional foods throughout the day you need, as mentioned above you will need to use 'syns' for full fat options and additional fibre options.
Cooking from scratch and 'GD tweaking' recipes
Slimming World's food optimising plan relies heavily on cooking recipes from scratch which is fantastic for gestational diabetes because you have full control over the ingredients used.
You may find there are lots of your favourite Slimming World recipes that are still suitable for use in your gestational diabetes diet such as a crustless quiche, 1 syn cake, or spaghetti bolognese.
Many of these recipes and meals can be made similar but watch out for items that may contain high carbohydrates, replace low or fat free items with full fat and severely cut back on the carbohydrates eg. with Spaghetti Bolognese you could make it pretty much the same as you would for Slimming World, but have a very small amount of wholewheat pasta (or a mix of pasta and courgetti) with a large serving of bolognese, additional green vegetables and plenty of full fat cheese sprinkled on top.
Low fat and fat free foods
Low fat and fat free alternative foods can contain high amounts of carbohydrates and refined sugar to make the foods taste better after removing the fats.
Many ladies are very worried or wary of swapping low fat or fat free foods for the full fat versions, concerned that they will gain weight, or they are bad for the heart. Please see the information regarding good natural fats on our Gestational Diabetes Diet page for more information regarding this.
If you need to follow a low fat or fat free diet for other health reasons, then our dietary advice can still be followed however the loss of good healthy fats from the diet make it harder when selecting foods.
Weight loss and gestational diabetes
Let's face it, if you're following Slimming World you are doing it to lose weight. However, if you have gestational diabetes and are following a strict Slimming World eating plan, it is extremely difficult as it will cause high blood sugar levels.
Many midwives, dieticians & diabetic health care professionals may not realise or understand this as they may know Slimming World can be good for weight loss, it's approved by the RCM and so they may recommend it as a good way to lose weight whilst pregnant, which in normal circumstances would be good advice for those with high BMI. But eating lots of fruit and starchy carbohydrates will spike blood sugar levels high very rapidly and ultimately ladies with gestational diabetes will be given medication and insulin much sooner than necessary, to help lower levels in an attempt to tolerate these high carb foods.
If weight loss is the major concern, then you may be pleased to know that the majority of members that follow the dietary advice suggested by Gestational Diabetes UK, have had weight loss or have maintained throughout pregnancy. This is simply due to cutting out the majority of sugar in the diet - you'll be surprised where sugar is hiding! Next time you shop, compare mayonnaise and yoghurts. These are two good examples where extra carbohydrate amounts are much higher in the low fat options!
Please note that our dietary advice is not intended for weight loss purposes, it solely based around gestational diabetes and the need to lower and control blood sugar levels.
This is a survey taken from our Facebook support group. 160 members answered;
- 72.5% had lost weight as a result of following a gestational diabetes diet
- 22.5% hadn't lost or gained weight since falling pregnant
- 5% said they had gained weight
Slimming World group membership
It is worth mentioning that whilst Slimming World and gestational diabetes aren't really something that work well together, many ladies continue to attend their groups for the morale support and encouragement given during IMAGE (Individual Motivation And Group Experience) therapy. It also a good way to find out about new sugar free products that come to market and so whilst many cannot stick to fully food optimising, it may be still helpful to continue attending for those reasons.
Gestational Diabetes UK diet plan
Our 8 golden rules for gestational diabetes dietary information which helps to lower and control blood sugar levels is available to read by clicking here. With additional information on drinks here and diabetic specialist foods here.
If after reading our dietary information you are struggling to work out what to eat following diagnosis and would like meal suggestions, shopping lists and further hints and tips on managing gestational diabetes with diet, including takeaway foods and eating out, then you may want to consider our Bronze level membership.
Or if you would like a structured plan for 7 days then you may want to consider our Silver level membership, which includes a 7 day plan diet plan and a 7 day vegetarian plan, as well as everything that is contained in our Bronze level membership.
Our membership options can be viewed here.