Purpose: This study investigated postpartum dietary behaviors among women with recent gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), the cognitive and social factors related to these, and preferred types of lifestyle support, in order improve the development of diabetes prevention strategies for this group.
Methods: Participants were a random sample of 226 women diagnosed with GDM in the prior 6 to 24 months. Telephone surveys were used to evaluate dietary behaviors, self-efficacy, social support, perceived barriers to healthy eating, and preferred methods of lifestyle support.
Results: Only 5% of the respondents consumed 5 servings/day of vegetables and 44% consumed 2 or more servings/day of fruit. Fried food was eaten at least twice per week by 26% of women and 50% usually consumed full-fat milk. Higher vegetable consumption was associated with self-efficacy to cook healthy foods, reporting that a healthy diet is not a difficult change and that dislike of healthy foods by other household members is not a barrier. Fruit consumption was positively related to self-efficacy when busy and when not reporting a dislike of healthy foods by others at home. Advice from a dietitian and telephone support from a health educator were the most preferred forms of health assistance.
Conclusions: Dietary risks factors are prevalent among women with recent GDM. Confidence and skills in cooking healthy foods, along with family food preferences and time pressures, are important influences on eating habits. Dietary change programs, informed by the beliefs and circumstances of this high-risk population, need to be developed.