Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar (glucose) that starts during pregnancy. Eating a balanced, healthy diet can help you manage gestational diabetes. The diet recommendations that follow are for women with gestational diabetes who do NOT take insulin.
For a balanced diet, you need to eat a variety of healthy foods. Reading food labels can help you make healthy choices when you shop.
If you are a vegetarian or on a special diet, talk with your health care provider to make sure you're getting a balanced diet.
In general, you should eat:
- Plenty of whole fruits and vegetables
- Moderate amounts of lean proteins and healthy fats
- Moderate amounts of whole grains, such as bread, cereal, pasta, and rice, plus starchy vegetables, such as corn and peas
- Fewer foods that have a lot of sugar, such as soft drinks, fruit juices, and pastries
You should eat three small- to moderate-sized meals and one or more snacks each day. Do not skip meals and snacks. Keep the amount and types of food (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) the same from day to day. This can help you keep your blood sugar stable.
- Less than half the calories you eat should come from carbohydrates.
- Most carbohydrates are found in starchy or sugary foods. They include bread, rice, pasta, cereal, potatoes, peas, corn, fruit, fruit juice, milk, yogurt, cookies, candy, soda, and other sweets.
- High-fiber, whole-grain carbohydrates are healthy choices.
- Vegetables are good for your health and your blood sugar. Enjoy lots of them.
- Carbohydrates in food are measured in grams. You can learn to count the amount of carbohydrates in the foods that you eat.
GRAINS, BEANS, AND STARCHY VEGETABLES
Eat 6 or more servings a day. One serving equals:
- 1 slice bread
- 1 ounce ready-to-eat cereal
- 1/2 cup cooked rice or pasta
- 1 English muffin
Choose foods loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy carbohydrates. They include:
- Whole-grain breads and crackers
- Whole grain cereals
- Whole grains, such as barley or oats
- Brown or wild rice
- Whole-wheat pasta
- Starchy vegetables, such as corn and peas
Use whole-wheat or other whole-grain flours in cooking and baking. Eat more low-fat breads, such as tortillas, English muffins, and pita bread.
Eat 3 to 5 servings a day. One serving equals:
- 1 cup leafy, green vegetables
- 1 cup cooked or chopped raw leafy vegetables
- 3/4 cup vegetable juice
- 1/2 cup of chopped vegetables, cooked or raw
Healthy vegetable choices include:
- Fresh or frozen vegetables without added sauces, fats, or salt
- Dark green and deep yellow vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, carrots, and peppers
Eat 2 to 4 servings a day. One serving equals:
- 1 medium whole fruit (such as a banana, apple, or orange)
- 1/2 cup chopped, frozen, cooked, or canned fruit
- 3/4 cup fruit juice
Healthy fruit choices include:
- Whole fruits rather than juices. They have more fiber.
- Citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines
- Fruit juices without added sugar
- Fresh fruits and juices. They are more nutritious than frozen or canned varieties.
MILK AND DAIRY
Eat 4 servings of low-fat or nonfat dairy products a day. One serving equals:
- 1 cup milk or yogurt
- 1 1/2 oz. natural cheese
- 2 oz. processed cheese
Healthy dairy choices include:
- Low-fat or nonfat milk or yogurt. Avoid yogurt with added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
- Dairy products are a great source of protein, calcium, and phosphorus.
PROTEIN (MEAT, FISH, DRY BEANS, EGGS, AND NUTS)
Eat 2 to 3 servings a day. One serving equals:
- 2 to 3 oz. cooked meat, poultry, or fish
- 1/2 cup cooked beans
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
Healthy protein choices include:
- Fish and poultry. Remove the skin from chicken and turkey.
- Lean cuts of beef, veal, pork or wild game.
- Trim all visible fat from meat. Bake, roast, broil, grill, or boil instead of frying. Foods from this group are excellent sources of B vitamins, protein, iron, and zinc.
- Sweets are high in fat and sugar, so limit how often you eat them. Keep portion sizes small.
- Eat sugar-free sweets.
- Ask for extra spoons or forks and split your dessert with others.
In general, you should limit your intake of fatty foods.
- Go easy on butter, margarine, salad dressing, cooking oil, and desserts.
- Avoid fats high in saturated fat such as hamburger, cheese, bacon, and butter.
- Don't cut fats and oils from your diet entirely. They provide energy for growth and are essential for baby's brain development.
- Choose healthy oils, such as canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil, and safflower oil. Include nuts, avocados, and olives.
OTHER LIFESTYLE CHANGES
Your health care provider may also suggest a safe exercise plan. Walking is usually the easiest type of exercise, but swimming or other low-impact exercises can work just as well. Exercise can help you keep your blood sugar in control.
Gestational diabetes diet
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Review Date 9/26/2015
Updated by: Daniel N. Sacks MD, FACOG, obstetrics & gynecology in private practice, West Palm Beach, FL. Review Provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.