Gestational Diabetes Meal Plan
Healthy eating during pregnancy looks different each day, and you should feel free to eat the foods you want. Here’s what you need to know for planning a gestational diabetes meal plan that will work for you.
During pregnancy, you’re already adjusting to multiple changes in your body, and a diagnosis of gestational diabetes can feel overwhelming. But don’t worry, you can have a healthy pregnancy without a rigid meal plan. Discover the causes of gestational diabetes, healthy eating tips, and tips for creating a manageable and stress-free meal plan. The aim is to form sustainable habits that keep your blood sugars in check while you enjoy this wonderful time.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and affects women who have never had diabetes before. It is caused by changes in the way the body responds to insulin during pregnancy. As a result, the body is unable to effectively use insulin, leading to high levels of glucose in the blood, also known as hyperglycemia. If uncontrolled, gestational diabetes can cause complications for both the mother and the baby, so it is important to manage it through healthy eating and regular monitoring of blood sugar levels.
Gestational Diabetes Symptoms
Gestational diabetes usually does not cause noticeable symptoms. However, some women may experience the following symptoms:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
It is important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other factors, such as stress or hormonal changes, and only a medical professional can diagnose gestational diabetes. If you are pregnant and have any concerns, it is best to speak to your doctor.
How to Prevent Gestational Diabetes?
There is no surefire way to prevent gestational diabetes, but there are certain steps that can help lower your risk:
- Maintain a healthy weight before pregnancy: Women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.
- Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity, such as walking, can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
- Eat a balanced diet: A diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, and low in sugar and unhealthy fats, can help prevent gestational diabetes.
- Control blood sugar levels: Women with a history of prediabetes or who have a family history of diabetes may benefit from monitoring their blood sugar levels before becoming pregnant.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol intake: Drinking excessive amounts of caffeine or alcohol during pregnancy can increase the risk of gestational diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes Meal Plan
The meal plan below is an example of how to include high-fiber foods into each meal and how to pair carbs with protein and healthy fats. Use this information in conjunction with the advice and recommendations from a dietitian or diabetes educator, as well as your healthcare professional.
Keep in mind that with gestational diabetes, portion sizes of carbohydrate foods do matter. It’s important to get an individualized plan based on your current blood sugar levels from your healthcare provider, your diabetes educator, or your dietitian.
Choosing meals and snacks from the options listed below will help you consume foods that can help you manage your blood sugar, and also include nutrients needed for the growth and development of your baby.
Whole grain toast with avocado and scrambled eggs: Toast 2 slices of whole grain bread, mash 1/2 ripe avocado, and top with 2 scrambled eggs.
Greek yogurt with berries and almonds: Mix 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup of mixed berries, and top with 1/4 cup of almonds.
Oatmeal with almond milk, cinnamon, and sliced banana: Cook 1/2 cup of rolled oats in 1 cup of almond milk and sprinkle with cinnamon. Top with 1 sliced banana.
Veggie omelet with whole grain toast: Whisk together 2 eggs with 1/2 cup of chopped vegetables (such as bell peppers, mushrooms, and spinach) and cook in a non-stick pan. Serve with 2 slices of whole grain toast.
Grilled chicken salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette: Grill 4 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken breast and serve over a bed of mixed greens with cherry tomatoes and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
Whole grain pita with hummus, veggies, and turkey: Fill a whole grain pita with 2 tablespoons of hummus, sliced cucumbers, red bell peppers, and 4 ounces of sliced turkey breast.
Quinoa bowl with black beans, corn, and grilled shrimp: Cook 1/2 cup of quinoa and mix with 1/2 cup of black beans, 1/2 cup of corn, and 4 ounces of grilled shrimp. Top with diced avocado and a squeeze of lime juice.
Turkey and cheese sandwich with whole grain bread and a side of fruit: Make a sandwich with 2 ounces of sliced turkey breast, 1 slice of cheese, and 2 slices of whole grain bread. Serve with a side of your favorite fruit, such as an apple or a pear.
Grilled salmon with roasted vegetables: Grill 4 ounces of salmon and serve with 1 cup of roasted vegetables (such as broccoli, carrots, and zucchini).
Whole grain pasta with tomato sauce and turkey meatballs: Cook 1 cup of whole grain pasta and serve with a homemade tomato sauce and 4 ounces of turkey meatballs.
Stuffed bell peppers with quinoa and black beans: Halve 4 bell peppers, remove seeds, and fill with 1 cup of cooked quinoa and 1/2 cup of black beans. Bake at 375°F for 20-25 minutes.
Grilled chicken fajitas with peppers and onions: Grill 4 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken breast and serve with sautéed peppers and onions on a whole grain tortilla.
Apple slices with almond butter: Slice 1 apple and spread 1 tablespoon of almond butter on top.
Carrots and hummus: Dip 10 baby carrots into 2 tablespoons of hummus.
Whole-grain crackers with cheese: Enjoy 10 whole-grain crackers with 1 ounce of cheese.
Greek yogurt with berries: Mix 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup of mixed berries.
Roasted almonds: Snack on 1/4 cup of roasted almonds.
It’s important to remember that this is just a sample meal plan and you should always consult with a healthcare professional and a registered dietitian for personalized recommendations, especially if you have gestational diabetes.
It is very important that you do not skip meals. During pregnancy, you have increased nutritional needs and your baby requires balanced nutrition. Starchy foods eventually turn into glucose so it’s important not to be excessive. However, starch should be included in every meal.
Eggs are a good choice. Boiled, poached, scrambled fried eggs or omelet with seeded or wholegrain bread (cook eggs until yolks are firm to reduce risk unless they have the British Red Lion mark).
These foods are what you should be eating with gestational diabetes: Fresh vegetables. Fruits like apples, oranges, pears, berries, grapefruit, etc.
Eat 3 meals and 2–3 snacks per day. …
Measure your servings of starchy foods. …
One 8-ounce cup of milk at a time. …
One small portion of fruit at a time. …
Eat more fiber. …
Breakfast Matters. …
Avoid fruit juice and sugary drinks. …
Strictly limit sweets and desserts.
Stay away from sugars
These artificial sweeteners are safe for pregnancy
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 (and you need extra water during pregnancy anyway), but low-fat milk is also a good option.
We suggest the following target for women testing blood glucose levels during pregnancy: Before a meal: 95 mg/dl or less. One hour after a meal: 140 mg/dl or less. Two hours after a meal: 120 mg/dl or less.