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Pregnancy & Birth

New research says a mediterranean diet during pregnancy can reduce gestational diabetes and weight gain

It's all about the right types of fats.

By Rebel Wylie
New research out of the UK has found that a simple Mediterranean-style diet in pregnancy has the potential to reduce both weight gain and, in turn the risk of gestational diabetes.
Research published in the journal PLOS Medicine on Wednesday show that having a Mediterranean-style diet (including 30g of mixed nuts per day and extra virgin olive oil) led to a 35 percent lower risk of developing diabetes in pregnancy, and on average 1.25 Kg less weight gain in pregnancy, compared to those who received routine antenatal care.
The study suggests a Mediterranean-style diet could be an effective intervention for women who enter pregnancy with pre-existing obesity, chronic hypertension or raised lipid levels.
"Current research suggests that one in every two mothers-to-be gain excess weight during pregnancy," says Fertility and Prenatal Dietitian, Melanie McGrice.
"This can be a real problem as it can make it difficult to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight, and research suggests that it increases your baby's risk of struggling with his or her weight."
A Mediterranean-style diet, rich in unsaturated fatty acids, is well know for reducing the incidence of cardiovascular diseases in the non-pregnant population. What this new research shows is that the same principles apply to those who are expecting too.

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

"The Mediterranean diet is a diet rich in vegies, nuts and seeds, fish, legumes and extra virgin olive oil," says McGrice. "One of the key differences with the Mediterranean Diet compared to the typical Western diet is the type of fats.
"The Mediterranean diet has a 1:1 ratio of good to bad fats, whereas the typical Western diet has a ratio of 1:18 good to bad fats. It's not about cutting out fat altogether, but focusing on including healthy fats.
Fertility and Prenatal Dietitian, Melanie McGrice says a Mediterranean diet is simple to incorporate into you pregnancy. Supplied.

How to eat Mediterranean-style during pregnancy

Knowing the right foods to put into your body when you're eating for two can be confusing. Throw in the crazy cravings and it gets a little more challenging.
McGrice says incorporating a Mediterranean diet is easier than you might think.
"As a prenatal dietitan, I find that so many mothers-to-be are focused on avoiding fish to reduce their risk of listeria and mercury toxicity,"she says.
"Fish doesn't need to be avoided during pregnancy, you just need to choose the right types and ensure that it's well cooked."
Including vegetarian dishes such as chick peas, tofu or baked beans at least three times per week is a great idea during pregnancy. Getty Images
Melanie McGrice suggests making the following simple changes to your pregnancy diet to ensure you are getting the right types of fats:
  • Snack on a handful of nuts every day
  • Swap to extra virgin olive oil
  • Eat well cooked, low mercury fish at least twice per week
  • Include vegetarian dishes such as chick peas, tofu or baked beans at least three times per week
Download Melanie McGrice's pregnancy meal plan for more information.
WATCH: Tips for a healthy pregnancy by Bounty.

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