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What To Eat When You Have Gestational Diabetes

Is There A Safe Food List For People With Gestational Diabetes


Each pregnant body works a little bit differently, so there’s no exact meal plan that’s considered the best way to manage gestational diabetes. With the help of a registered dietitian or diabetes educator, you can find the right meal plan for you. Keep reading for a list of nutritional guidelines and foods your healthcare provider may recommend during your pregnancy .

Treatment: How To Control Gestational Diabetes

The CDC recommends lifestyle intervention as the most effective treatment for diet-dependent gestational diabetes .

  • Eat healthy foods in the right amounts at the right time.
  • Stay active.
  • Monitor your blood sugar levels.

Your goal is to not only reduce weight but also make your body more insulin-sensitive. Thankfully, diet-dependent gestational diabetes responds to nutritional intervention. That means you need to eat certain foods while avoiding others. For your convenience, we have created a gestational diabetes foods list that tells you what to eat and what to avoid. Take a screenshot or share it with your family members to get the maximum help and support you need. Scroll down.

Dietary Recommendations For Gestational Diabetes

Diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy is called gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs in about 7 percent of all pregnancies. It usually arises in the second half of pregnancy and goes away as soon as the baby is born. However, if gestational diabetes is not treated, you may experience complications.

The first step in treating gestational diabetes is to modify your diet to help keep your blood sugar level in the normal range, while still eating a healthy diet. Most women with well-controlled blood sugar deliver healthy babies without any complications.

One way of keeping your blood sugar levels in normal range is by monitoring the amount of carbohydrates in your diet. Carbohydrate foods digest and turn into blood glucose . Glucose in the blood is necessary because it is the fuel for your body and nourishment your baby receives from you. However, it’s important that glucose levels stay within target.

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What Are The Best Types Of Veggies For Expected Mothers

Vegetables for gestational diabetes are a very good option as they are healthy and besides having carbohydrates veggies are rich In fiber as well.

Leafy green vegetables, starchy vegetables, yellow veggies are all the best choices for expected mothers.

They provide energy while keeping the glucose levels under check.

Although, most of the vegetables are good to go for gestational diabetes try to avoid simple carbohydrates i.e. potatoes.

They cause an instant spike in the blood sugar levels.

Do not add too many sauces and flavors to your veggies to keep your blood sugar levels regulated.

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Be Consistent With Meals And Snacks

Gestational Diabetes Alert Jewelry

Whichever eating plan you choose to follow, make sure to eat regular meals and snacks. In other words, eat at around the same time each day and about the same amount at each meal and snack. Your body will respond to this consistency, helping your blood sugar levels be more stable in turn.

This might be three regular meals with two or three snacks in between, or it might be five to six small meals throughout the day. Find what works for you, and stick to it.

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Gestational Diabetes Meal Plan And Recipe Ideas

When planning each gestational diabetes-friendly meal, keep that balance in mind. I typically recommend that each meal should contain some protein, healthy fat, carbohydrate and non-starchy vegetable, Tracy suggests. For example, for lunch, try a whole wheat sandwich with roasted turkey breast, a couple slices of avocado and topped with lettuce, with a side salad with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil dressing.

Looking for recipes that fit into a gestational diabetes meal plan? Here are a few ideas:

Dont Drink Sweet Drinks If You Have Gestational Diabetes

Cross off juice, sweet tea, soda, and any drink with added sugars from your gestational diabetes diet plan. Avoid foods high in sugar and carbohydrate content, says Heard. Sweet drinks are one of the fastest ways to raise your blood sugar, which is why they must be off your menu. Water is the best choice , but low-fat milk is also a good option.

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Think About What You Drink

Its important to think about what youre drinking as well as what youre eating. Try to avoid sugary drinks. Diet or sugar-free drinks are better than sugary versions . Fruit juices and smoothies can also be high in sugar, and so can drinks labelled as no added sugar. Check the nutrition label or ask your healthcare team if youre unsure.

I had a bizarre craving for fresh orange juice when I was pregnant. But when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes my midwife advised me to cut it out because of the sugar content.


As water contains no carbohydrate or calories, it is the perfect drink for pregnant women. Studies have also shown that drinking water could help control glucose levels. Drink a large glass of water with every meal and another glass in between meals.

“Water was key to keeping my glucose levels stable. I probably drank about 3 to 4 litres a day and walked for half an hour after dinner. My rule was a pint of water with every mefd and one immediately after. It worked for me and others I know.”

Find out more about how much water you should drink during pregnancy.

Achieving Normal Pregnancy Weight Gain

What Happens After You Have Gestational Diabetes

The amount of weight you gain during pregnancy will vary depending on your weight before your pregnancy. Althought weight loss is good for people with type 2 diabetes, weight loss is not recommended for pregnant women. Talk to your health-care provider to determine the appropriate weight gain for your body.

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Watch Your Portion Sizes

How much you eat during a meal is just as important as what you eat. You may have been encouraged to have extra food or snacks because you thought that being pregnant means eating for two. Much as this might be tempting, it’s not true.

You do not need to eat any extra food in the first or second trimesters of pregnancy. In the third trimester, you may need around 200 extra calories each day, which is around half a sandwich.

Find out more about how much extra you should eat in pregnancy.

Research has also shown that the amount of carbohydrates you eat, rather than their GI rating, has the biggest influence on your glucose levels after meals. This means that even if youre eating well, you may struggle to manage your condition if youre eating too much.

Diabetes UK has more information about how to get your portion sizes right.

Fast Food For Gestational Diabetics

Is it safe to eat fast food when pregnant and diagnosed with gestational diabetes?

Ideally one of two things would happen in life – 1. fast food would be healthy and there would be no concern about eating it, or 2. everyone would have the time and energy to cook every single meal and there’d be no need for fast food. Since neither of those is true, we have to adjust.

It’s not practical to expect anyone, especially a gestational diabetic, to cook every meal. But because healthy and low carb options in fast food are so few, you should be familiar with what items are safe choices at your favorite eateries, or how to make your favorite choices lower carb.

Knowing your options in advance will prevent panic and frustration in the moment, and empower you to eat what you like without breaking the diet or fear of spiking your glucose. It’ll also relieve you of the pressure to always have a prepared meal or snack.

This series covers popular places like McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Subway, Wendy’s, IHOP, Starbucks and more, and each review has a printable sheet of menu items within carb limits that are appropriate for diabetics.

BUT if you want to minimize your chances of having to grab fast food, PLAN! A plan doesn’t have to be followed exactly rather, it’s a fail-safe. A few gestational diabetic meal plans are already done for you with recipes, nutritional information and shopping lists included!

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Experts Answers For Readers Questions

Will gestational diabetes affect my baby?

Yes, gestational diabetes can affect the baby. It increases their risk of developing diabetes later in life.

Can I eat bananas with gestational diabetes?

You can eat bananas in moderation if you have gestational diabetes.

Can you get rid of gestational diabetes while pregnant?

If you have never had diabetes, are not obese or overweight, or do not have a family history of diabetes, you can get rid of diabetes through lifestyle changes while pregnant.

Monitoring Blood Glucose Levels While Pregnant

Gestational Diabetes Diet and Meal Plan

It is important to monitor your blood glucose levels at home to check that management of gestational diabetes is keeping your blood glucose levels within the target range. Your Credentialled Diabetes Educator can show you how to check your blood glucose levels and help you understand your blood glucose patterns. This is to ensure appropriate treatment can be administered and changed as necessary.

Your doctor or Credentialled Diabetes Educator will advise you on recommended blood glucose target levels and testing times.

If your blood glucose levels cannot be managed by healthy eating and physical activity alone, your doctor may suggest medication. Most diabetes tablets are not suitable for use during pregnancy, but insulin injections and/or a medication called metformin may be required to help manage your gestational diabetes.

Learn more about Blood Glucose Monitoring.

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Foods To Keep An Eye On

1. Sugar: You don’t need to turn your back on all sweets, but your healthcare provider may tell you to be mindful of how many sugary drinks, foods, or items with added sugar you’re consuming and try your best to scale back where you can.

2. Simple carbohydrates: While complex carbohydrates provide you with fiber, simple carbohydrates aren’t as nutritious. As a result, your body quickly processes these foods into blood glucose which will increase your blood sugar level. Your healthcare provider will likely suggest you opt for complex over simple.

3. Fruit: When it comes to fruit, Dr. Conti says to keep this in mind: “Fruit is a tricky food group because we often think of them as healthy, which they are, but they also are high in carbs.” If your healthcare provider suggests a certain amount of carbs per day, know that snacking on fruits or drinking fruit juice might make you hit that maximum pretty quickly.

Risk Factors: Why Is Managing Gestational Diabetes Important

According to the CDC, gestational diabetes has unfavorable outcomes for both the mother and the baby . It can cause:

  • High blood pressure in the mother.
  • Baby weight more than 9 pounds.
  • Difficult delivery with higher chances of Cesarean delivery.
  • Premature birth and breathing difficulties.
  • Low blood sugar in the baby.
  • Higher chances of the mother and the baby developing diabetes type 2 later.

All of these complications can be avoided. How? Find out in the next section.

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Onions And Green Onions

Onions treat you with all the nutrients you need for your healthy pregnancy.

They are low-calorie food packed with useful nutrients like minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins C, B6.

Consuming onions also provide you with iron, calcium, folate, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

The sulfur compounds and quercetin in onions can also help to combat gestational diabetes by controlling the blood sugar levels.

Onions can be added to your diet as salads, or by mixing them with other vegetables of your choice.

What Would A Woman’s Blood Sugar Levels Look Like If She Has Gestational Diabetes

What I Eat in a Day ~ Gestational Diabetes ~ Insulin Dependent

First, it’s important to identify what healthy blood glucose levels look like.

“The target number for blood sugar is less than 95 mg/dl when fasting or before a meal 120 mg/dl is the target to stay under two hours after a meal,” says Walsh. “The target number for A1C is less than 6.0 percent.”

Testing blood glucose levels after a night of sleep, or several hours without food, and after a meal are both important measures in determining whether or not one has diabetes. After you eat a meal, blood glucose levels innately rise as the body begins to digest the food. However, if blood glucose levels remain high several hours after eating, this may be indicative of insulin resistance.

“When a woman’s blood sugar levels exceed these consistently, this range indicates gestational diabetes,” says Walsh.

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Following This Plan Can Help With Better Management Of Gestational Diabetes:

1. Carbohydrates

With gestational diabetes, you need to limit your carb intake and space meals properly. Eating lots of carbs at a time can lead to a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. Instead, you must eat more of complex carbs or combine carbs with proteins.

2. Proteins

Proteins should be included in your diet with carbs. This will help you maintain the perfect blood sugar balance. Lean proteins are recommended for women with gestational diabetes.

3. Unsaturated, healthy fats

Follow these basic, healthy eating rules:

  • Include proteins in every meal
  • Include daily fruits and veggies in your diet
  • Fat intake should be less than 30%
  • Avoid processed foods as much as possible
  • Avoid overeating

Benefits Of Keeping Active

Physical activity helps to reduce insulin resistance. Regular exercise, like walking, helps to increase fitness and prepares you for the birth of your baby. Physical activity also helps manage blood glucose levels.

Remember, before starting or continuing any form of physical activity, always check with your obstetrician or midwife.

Its never too late to start moving, and there are many ways that you can keep active as a part of your everyday routine. Basically, anything that gets you moving is generally good for your diabetes and will also improve your overall feeling of wellbeing. For example, walking is a great way to move.

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Do Check Blood Sugar Regularly To Decrease Diabetes Complications

In order to decrease the risk of complications from gestational diabetes, close monitoring of fasting and postprandial postmeal blood sugar are essential, says obstetrician and gynecologist Asha Heard, MD, assistant professor in the clinical section of maternal fetal medicine at the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans. Your fasting blood sugar goal should be less than 95 milligrams per deciliter , your two-hour postprandial blood sugar goal should be less than 120 mg/dL, and your one-hour postprandial blood sugar goal should be less than 130 mg/dL, Dr. Heard advises. Its a good idea to meet with a diabetes educator to learn how to check your blood sugar and how to make adjustments to your diet for gestational diabetes and activity levels to meet these goals.

  • Other poor health outcomes for your baby
  • Long-term health effects for you

Controlling your blood glucose is important for everyone, young and old. But for pregnant women, good blood sugar control is important before, during, and after pregnancy to reduce the chance of diabetes complications.

According to the Mayo Clinic, good blood sugar control during pregnancy can help prevent or reduce these risks:

  • Prevent complications for the baby
  • Prevent complications for the mother
  • Reduce the risk of birth defects
  • Reduce the risk of excess fetal growth
  • Reduce the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth
  • Reduce the risk of premature birth

Exercise: Staying Active Is Important

Carbs &  Cals

Gariglio-Clelland says, Exercise can help prevent and treat gestational diabetes. Walking and swimming are two very safe, low-impact exercises good for pregnancy, but other types of exercise can also be enjoyed. She further adds, Being active can help lower blood sugars and improve insulin sensitivity, which is the ultimate goal of managing gestational diabetes. Keeping her advice in mind, heres what you can do:

  • Warm-up for 10 minutes.
  • Go on brisk walks for 20 minutes in the morning and evening.
  • If you are an athlete, you can also go on jogs.
  • Do yoga stretches for 20-30 minutes.
  • Swim one to two laps or do other water exercises.
  • You can use a pillow to support your lower back and do exercises on the bed.
  • Get up and walk every one hour.
  • Exercise post-delivery as well.

Gestational diabetes impacts the mother and the baby post-delivery too. Therefore, along with staying active during and after pregnancy, other aftercare protocols are vital for yourself and your baby. Heres what to do after delivery.

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Do Exercise To Improve Blood Sugar

Appropriate regular physical activity is often recommended during pregnancy, even without diabetes. But if you have gestational diabetes, being active is a must. Regular exercise is also beneficial to overall health and may help to improve glucose metabolism, advises Heard. Respect your pregnant status and choose exercises that wont put you at risk. For example, swimming, water aerobics, and walking are all great choices, while high-impact aerobics or activities such as basketball, which could lead to impacts or falls, should be sidelined for a while.

Foods To Avoid With Gestational Diabetes

Contrary to popular belief, you dont have to completely cut out a whole bunch of foods because you have gestational diabetes. Its all about balance and not going too crazy with the carbs, especially sugar.

But, in general, if you have gestational diabetes, try to avoid:

  • Sugary drinks: Skip the soda and fruit juice. Even all natural, organic, no-sugar-added juice contains carbs and will raise your blood sugar. Try water with lemon or water flavoring packets like True Lemon, Tracy suggests. Sparkling water like LaCroix can also be refreshing and satisfying.
  • Sweets: Got a sweet craving? Candy, cakes and a lot of fruit are no-gos when you have gestational diabetes because of their sugar and carbohydrates. But, says Auguste, you can have a little full-fat ice cream every now and then.
  • Super-starchy foods: Were not saying pregnant women with gestational diabetes should skip carbs like potatoes, pasta, white rice and white bread completely, but you should definitely limit them, pair them with carbs and fats, and try to choose whole grain and/or fiber-rich versions instead.
  • No-carb dieting: Do not try to cut carbs completely because you have gestational diabetes. Your body needs them, and youll feel too deprived without them.

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