Easily manage your blood sugar with this done-for-you meal plan made up of delicious meals and snacks WITH recipes, tips, nutrition info and more!
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1. This page gives a brief overview of the gestational diabetes diet and how to navigate it. For a more in depth explanation, visit the gestational diabetes diet page.
2. This downloadable meal plan includes meal and snack suggestions, and is the first plan in a series. Weeks 2, 3 and 4 offer dinner options only, and week 5 and up have meals and snacks.
3. If after the first week you feel confident in what to eat, continue with weeks 2 through 4 for inspiration.
4. If you want to continue with full meal plans, go to week 5.
5. If you like services like Blue Apron, Sun Basket, etc. check out the Diabetic Food Delivery below.
What is gestational diabetes?
In a nutshell, gestational diabetes is high blood sugar in pregnant women, and it poses harm to the baby.
Gestational diabetes is unique from Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in that it is first discovered in pregnancy, and it lasts until the pregnancy is over.
Some mothers continue on with diabetes, but it is no longer classified as gestational. After the pregnancy has ended, it becomes Type 2 diabetes.
How is gestational diabetes treated?
Gestational diabetes is treated through three basic methods:
1. a healthy carb-conscious diet.
3. medication or insulin.
Diet and exercise are the best treatments for a few reasons:
1. they’re natural.
2. they allow you stay in control of what happens to your body.
3. they help you adjust to a new lifestyle of being proactive and preventative (lowering your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes after pregnancy).
4. medication is synthetic and has side effects.
5. insulin has to be self-injected daily.
Sometimes diet and exercise alone can't bring blood sugars to a safe level. In this case, your doctor will prescribe medication or insulin as needed.
In some cases, a mother may require medication immediately, and that’s okay. The goal is to keep the baby safe.
Timely and proper treatment lessens the possibility of potential dangers.
A Carb-conscious Diet for Gestational Diabetes
Carbohydrates are the nutrient that raise blood sugar, so the gestational diabetes diet requires that you change four major things:
1. the amount of carbs you eat.
2. the type of carbs you eat.
3. the frequency you eat carbs.
4. what you eat with carbs.
Carb Amounts / Limits for Gestational Diabetes
Reducing the number of carbs you eat helps your body’s natural insulin to be more effective.
Breakfast and snacks are normally limited to 15g – 20g of carbs, and lunch and dinner are limited to 30g – 45g carbs.
|Breakfast||15g - 20g|
|Snack||15g - 20g|
|Lunch||30g - 45g|
|Snack||15g - 20g|
|Dinner||30g - 45g|
|Snack||15g - 20g|
Types of Carbs in Gestational Diabetes
Simple carbs are processed quickly by your body. In other words, they rush into your system causing your blood sugar to raise quickly (spike).
Simple carbs include:
- juices (even 100% fruit juice)
- corn syrup
- white grains (flour, rice, bread, etc.)
- and more
Simple carbs are most commonly found in heavily processed foods - the food in the middle of the grocery store aisles.
Eat less simple carbs.
Complex carbs are digested more slowly. They will still raise your blood sugar, but at a slower pace, which allows your natural insulin to be more effective.
Complex carbs include:
- whole fruits
- whole grains (quinoa, whole wheat bread, brown rice, etc.)
- non-starchy vegetables
- and more
Eat more complex carbs, but stay within your carb limits.
How Often to Eat with Gestational Diabetes
When you eat, you tell your blood sugar what to do.
If you eat simple carbs, you tell your blood sugar to give you a quick pick-me-up, and if you eat complex carbs you tell it to sustain your energy for a while.
But what happens when you don’t eat?
When you don’t eat, your blood sugar decides what it wants to do. It may drop low or spike high. (This is why the fasting glucose is the trickiest.)
Since you want your blood sugar to be as steady as possible, you must tell it what to do – meaning you have to eat every few hours.
Eating every 3-4 hours tells your blood sugar to remain steady, in a safe range.
Ideally, snacks are eaten about 3 hours after a meal, and at least 2 hours before the next meal.
Eat Protein with Carbs for Gestational Diabetes
Protein acts as a stabilizer so your blood sugar doesn’t spike. So when you eat carbs with protein, the carbs are processed more slowly, preventing your blood sugar from spiking.
No matter how much protein you pair with carbs, you should still stay within your carb limits.
Protein Food List
- beans (moderate carbs)
- Greek yogurt
- nut butters
What Foods to Eat
- all vegetables (especially green ones)
- fish (especially salmon)
- meats (with skin)
- any real food
Foods to Avoid
Generally speaking, every real food is good for you, but some things you should avoid eating in excess (portion it) or avoid it altogether to not spike your blood sugar.
- fried foods
- white products (rice, flour, pasta, etc.)
More gestational diabetes meal plan ideas and recipes at the end!
Exercise for Gestational Diabetes
Whether it's five minutes or 15, walking or strength training, once a day or three times a week; exercise! Something is better than nothing, and inconsistency is better than never.
It's best to move your feet!
Make it as regular as you can, because exercise works the sugar out of your blood. It is the quickest way to lower your blood sugar.
Gestational Diabetes Meal Plan for a Week
This sample meal plan gives you gestational diabetes meals and snacks for a week, with recipes.
But let's be real - who's going to cook everyday and never eat fast food or a protein bar?? NO ONE! The reality is life is hectic and sometimes we just need a break.
So even though this meal plan accounts for every meal, it's totally understandable and EXPECTED that some meals will be McDonald's, a TV dinner, or just plain skipped.
Here are the benefits of the week-long plan:
- you learn what a low glycemic meal looks like.
- you learn to eat without obsessing over counting carbs.
- the meals include lots of freebie veggies that won't spike your blood sugar.
- the meals are satisfying and delicious.
- they all have common ingredients.
- they're not a lot of hands-on time in the kitchen.
- leftovers are factored in.
Breakfast Idea Recipes
Dinner Idea Recipes
- Beef Smothered Burritos
- Grilled Stuffed Burritos
- Ropa Vieja
- Vegan Coconut Curry
- Healthy Shrimp Tacos
- Tomato Soup
- 3-Ingredient Salmon Dinner
Dessert Idea Recipes
- Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Cinnamon Roll Mug Cake
- Strawberry Shortcake for Diabetics
- Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies