August 17, 2022

Gestational Diabetes : What Should You Eat When You’re on a Healthy Meal Plan?

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes may be the most well-known forms of diabetes, but they aren’t the only diabetes types you should be aware of. During pregnancy, you may experience a condition known as “gestational diabetes.”

Share This Story

pregnant woman cutting fruit

Home / Living with Diabetes / Gestational Diabetes : What Should You Eat When You’re on a Healthy Meal Plan?

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes may be the most well-known forms of diabetes, but they aren’t the only diabetes types you should be aware of. During pregnancy, you may experience a condition known as “gestational diabetes.” 

 Expecting a child can be stressful under the best of circumstances, and adding diabetes management to your list of priorities may seem impossible. However, there are several effective ways to treat gestational diabetes, and that includes following a healthy meal plan. Here at US MED, we’ve put together a thorough guide to building your gestational diabetes plan – read on for more advice. 

What is gestational diabetes? 

Before taking steps to create a meal plan for gestational diabetes, you’ll need to understand the basics of this condition. As you’d expect, gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that can develop in pregnant women. However, it comes with some significant differences from type 1 and type 2 diabetes. 

In most cases, gestational diabetes appears between the 24th and 32nd week of pregnancy. The condition is associated with the hormonal changes seen during this process. Unlike type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes often has no noticeable symptoms. On the other hand, this disease still has potential complications for you and your child. Because of that, you’ll be tested for the condition between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. 

Another trait unique to gestational diabetes is its reversibility. While type 1 and type 2 diabetes are both lifelong diseases, gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy. However, keep in mind that 50% of the women are predicted to later develop type 2.  

What are the risk factors? 

Any pregnant woman can potentially develop gestational diabetes. That said, some traits can increase your risk: 

  • Being over the age of 25 
  • Having high blood pressure or heart disease 
  • A family/personal history of gestational diabetes 
  • A lack of physical activity 
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome 
  • Being overweight or obese 
  • Previously giving birth to a baby weighing 9+ pounds  
  • Being Hispanic, Black, Native American, or Asian American 

How can I manage gestational diabetes with a healthy plan? 

Controlling gestational diabetes doesn’t have to be difficult when you keep these gestational diabetes diet tips in mind: 

  • Stick to a standard meal schedule. When you have gestational diabetes, eat three small meals and two or three snacks daily. That way, you can avoid eating too much at once while getting the nutritional intake you and your baby need. 
  • Eat a healthy breakfast. Breakfast is essential to gestational diabetes management. Your pregnancy-related hormones are at their strongest early in the day, meaning your blood glucose levels can spike at this time. A healthy breakfast containing whole grains and protein can help to counteract this. 
  • Avoid sweets. Even if you’re craving things like cookies, pastries, or candy, these foods are full of sugar and fat. Of course, that could make diabetes management much more challenging. Sweet drinks – including fruit juice – can create problems, too. 
  • Use safe artificial sweeteners. Not all artificial sweeteners are safe for gestational diabetes. Consuming aspartame, acesulfame K, sucralose, and stevia during pregnancy is generally OK. Women with phenylketonuria (PKU) should not use aspartame.  
  • Boost your fiber intake. Whole grains and other foods that are high in fiber contain lots of nutritional benefits. That includes a lower impact on your blood sugar than refined grains, so ensure you’re getting the right carbs in your daily plan. 
  • Consume starches in moderation. You shouldn’t cut out starches entirely – every meal should contain some starch. Include the equivalent of two pieces of bread or a cup of cooked rice, potatoes, or noodles per meal. These are estimates, everyone has individual needs to better manage their diabetes.  
  • Eat fruit the right way. Fruits are highly nutritious, but they do contain natural sugars. With that in mind, limit your fruit consumption to one portion of fresh fruit at a time. You may consume two to four servings of fruit throughout the day.  
  • Stay hydrated. Your water intake can affect gestational diabetes control, as well. Bring a water bottle with you during the day to make sure you’re getting enough H2O. 

What foods should I eat? 

Complex carbohydrates 

Even on a diet for gestational diabetes, you can’t avoid your body’s need for carbs. Focus on eating sensible portions of these foods, which contain nutritious complex carbohydrates: 

  • Whole wheat bread 
  • Sweet potatoes 
  • Greek yogurt 
  • Brown rice 
  • Berries 
  • Beans 

Lean proteins 

Proteins don’t just help you feel full – they’re vital in helping your baby grow. These are some of the best proteins to consume during pregnancy: 

  • Turkey (deli meats if any are consumed should be organic free of nitrates/nitrites) 
  • Dairy products (low-fat) 
  • Fish 
  • Eggs 
  • Chicken 
  • Legumes 
  • Nuts 

Vegetables low in starch 

Veggies are packed with fiber, minerals, and vitamins – many of them are low in carbohydrates, too. Specifically, it’s a good idea to eat: 

  • Leafy greens 
  • Peppers 
  • Onions 
  • Green beans 
  • Cucumbers 
  • Broccoli 

“Good” fats 

Despite what you might think, moderate amounts of some fats have a pivotal role to play in your overall health. You can get these fats from: 

  • Nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, and so on) 
  • Seeds 
  • Olive oil, avocado oil  
  • Nuts 
  • Avocados 

What foods should I avoid? 

Simple carbohydrates 

While it’s easy to be tempted by simple carbs, they can cause serious diabetes-related problems. Try to avoid eating: 

  • High sugar breakfast cereals 
  • Processed snack foods 
  • Sweets 
  • Refined grains – think white bread and white rice (although some white bread varieties have added fiber) 

“Bad” fats 

Some fats can help you manage diabetes, but that’s not the case for the fats found in these foods: 

  • Palm oil, avoid the ones high in saturated fats 
  • High-fat dairy products 
  • Fatty meats 
  • Processed foods with artificial trans fats 

Sweetened beverages 

If you have diabetes – including gestational diabetes – sweetened drinks can cause blood sugar spikes before you know it. Make an effort to avoid: 

  • Soda 
  • Fruit juice 
  • Energy/sports drinks Sweetened tea or coffee 

Meal and snack ideas for gestational diabetes 

Making a meal plan is a highly effective way to stick to your gestational diabetes diet plan. However, if you haven’t dealt with diabetes before, you may be at a loss as to what you can and can’t eat throughout the week. To get started, give these recipes for diabetes-friendly meals and snacks a shot: 

Mediterranean Breakfast Sandwiches 

The ideal gestational diabetes breakfast comes with enough protein to keep you going throughout the early hours of the day. These sandwiches deliver in spades – while they only include seven ingredients, they’re packed with 13g of protein. 

Pumpkin Smoothie 

While pumpkin flavors are associated with the fall months, you can enjoy this smoothie recipe at any time of the year. It’s a particularly excellent breakfast choice since one serving includes 8g of protein. 

Granola & Yogurt Breakfast Popsicles 

Under normal circumstances, it’s hard to imagine a worse idea for your diabetes diet than eating popsicles for breakfast. But these aren’t your average popsicles – they’re made with low-fat yogurt, fresh berries, and nutritious granola. 

Thai Chicken and Zoodles with Peanut Sauce 

If you have gestational diabetes, it’s easy to miss foods like noodles. This flavorful recipe replaces traditional noodles with “zoodles” – zucchini noodles. That way, you can replicate the noodle-eating experience while getting more veggies. 

Winter Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette 

Few dishes are a better source of vegetables than salads. This salad contains the leafy greens you’d expect, along with apples, pears, and protein-packed goat cheese. 

Sweet Red Pepper Hummus 

Of course, the snacks you eat while managing gestational diabetes matter, too. Instead of going for processed, carb-heavy snack foods, whip up a batch of this delectable hummus and serve it with chopped vegetables. 

Slow-Cooker Braised Beef with Root Vegetables 

Sometimes, nothing hits the spot like a traditional “meat and potatoes” dinner. When that’s the case, indulge yourself with this diabetes-friendly take on a classic. 

Keto Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Surprise! Even with diabetes, you can still enjoy sweets created with this condition in mind. Thanks to its inclusion of sugar-free chocolate chips, monk sugar, and almond flour, this recipe is a perfect way to dive into the world of desserts for diabetes. 

Would you like to find more meal ideas created with diabetes in mind? If so, check out our recipe database! 

Gestational diabetes during pregnancy 

As we mentioned earlier, gestational diabetes is different from most diabetes types because it doesn’t usually stick around. Your doctor will check your blood glucose levels between six weeks and 12 weeks after you give birth. If they’re back to normal, you’ll be able to resume your typical diet. 

 A history of gestational diabetes comes with a heightened risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. That means it’s crucial to undergo a diabetes risk assessment every three years after the fact. It’s also not a bad idea to continue following the basic principles of a healthy meal plan , even if you don’t technically need to do so. 

Gestational Diabetes

Ways to keep you and your baby healthy with gestational diabetes 

A gestational diabetes diagnosis may be alarming, but it’s not a death sentence. By following a diet for gestational diabetes and keeping a close eye on your glucose levels, you can minimize the risk of complications for both yourself and your child. 

 To measure your glucose, you’ll need access to specialized equipment. Since gestational diabetes often goes away after pregnancy, you may be able to get by with a simple blood glucose meter (and the supplies that go with it, like test strips and lancets). Meanwhile, using continuous glucose monitors for gestational diabetes management is not unheard of. These devices can’t eliminate the need for “standard” blood glucose tests, but they can make you less reliant on them. 

 No matter what you need to control gestational diabetes, US MED has you covered. We’re the best diabetes supply company in America thanks to our unmatched customer service scores, free priority shipping, and ability to work with countless insurance companies. If you’re ready to get started, take a look at the diabetes supplies we have in stock! 

Shirley DeLeon Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist

Medical Review by Shirley DeLeon, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

Latest Recipes

Read Next:


Do I Need a CGM Prescription? Answers for People with Diabetes

These days, most people with diabetes have at least heard of continuous glucose monitors (CGMs). These devices allow ...

Managing Diabetes and Depression: Strategies for Your Mental Health

For people with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, or gestational diabetes, keeping up with the symptoms and ...

Managing Diabetes When You’re Sick: Essential Tips

Many aspects of everyday life are more difficult when you’re managing diabetes, and that includes taking care of ...