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Gestational Diabetes Recipes and Meal Ideas

Ideas to Make Meal Planning Less of a Hassle


Updated May 27, 2014

Pregnant woman making salad
Tetra Images/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

I often get asked about gestational diabetes recipes, diets and menus. The truth is that women with gestational diabetes can use just about any recipe or menu created for someone with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Of course, they need to keep in mind recommended pregnancy foods to avoid and any limitations or considerations posed by their individual health situation. I will share some food combinations that worked well for me during my pregnancy with type 2 diabetes, and also list recommended recipes.

Gestational diabetes is usually a temporary condition in pregnancy where the mother's body cannot maintain normal blood sugar levels. Because it is temporary and diabetes management can be complicated, women with gestational diabetes may be understandably reluctant to take on a learning curve to learn about diabetes meal planning; instead, they may seek ready-made plans, recipes or suggestions.

Women with gestational diabetes may be asked to use exchange lists, count carbohydrates or follow a specific diet prescribed by their healthcare team. The best advice I can offer is to follow your doctor's recommendations and keep it simple.

In 2001, I started a site called Diabetic Mommy for women with all types of diabetes who are pregnant, trying to conceive or who already have families. I learned that whether a woman has gestational diabetes or is pregnant with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, there are many things they have in common. These factors should be considered when coming up with a diet strategy.

Some Factors that Influence Meal Planning

  • The need to maintain normal or tight blood sugar levels.
  • Your sensitivity and reactivity to carbohydrates may increase as the pregnancy progresses. You may seem to be more sensitive to carbs at certain times of the day. Many people with diabetes need to reduce or avoid carbs in the morning.
  • Many mothers-to-be have insulin to contend with (and are new to insulin).
  • Pregnancy with diabetes can make big demands on time.

Because of these factors, many in my community have found it helpful to keep recipes simple and to be as repetitive as possible with meals that work. For example, if you find a meal or meals that work for breakfast, stick to those meals. If you find a daily menu that seems to produce good blood sugar results, repeat it. This way, you only have to look up nutritional data and do extra math when eating a meal that is out of the norm.

Gestational Diabetes Recipe Suggestions

I have listed food combinations that helped me maintain strict control of my blood sugar levels during pregnancy with type 2 diabetes. I am also providing recipe suggestions. In my pregnancy, I counted carbohydrate servings. I had two carbohydrate servings per meal and one serving per snack. A serving of carbohydrate is 15g. My food combination suggestions reflect what I ate for my own situation. Make sure to adjust according to your individual plan and situation.

In the recipes that use deli meats, heat to 165 degrees to reduce the risk for listeriosis as a pregnancy precaution

Breakfast can be the most challenging meal. Many of us struggle with our blood sugar levels in the morning, and it might seem like any carb can make our blood sugar levels skyrocket. Good control at breakfast can make it easier to maintain blood sugar throughout the rest of the day. This is the most common meal where mothers-to-be in my community ate the same thing every morning when they found something that worked. I usually could handle some carbohydrates at breakfast, although I sometimes had to avoid any carbs before 11 a.m.

My Breakfast Combinations

  • Two eggs with two corn tortillas and salsa
  • Two eggs (usually boiled) with two servings of toast
  • A two-egg omelet with vegetables
  • Two servings of heated deli meat wrapped around vegetables

Breakfast Recipes

My Lunch Combinations

  • Salad - Greens, veggies, a half cup of beans and dressing with a small toasted roll
  • Wraps - Greens and two servings heated deli meat wrapped in two medium tortillas with pickles and mustard
  • Pita - Stuffed with a serving of protein, greens, onion, tomato, avocado, mayonnaise and a quarter cup of shelled sunflower seeds

Lunch Recipes

My Dinner Combinations

  • A salad, wrap or pita (same as lunch)
  • Steamed, grilled or stir fried non-starchy vegetables with two servings of protein and a cup of rice (or two tortillas)

Dinner Recipes

My Snack Combinations

  • Cheese with five crackers
  • Cut apple with cheese
  • Three cups air-popped popcorn with a quarter cup nuts

Snack Recipes

Here are some ideas for snacks to make ahead in bulk. Add crackers or tortilla chips to obtain the amount of carbohydrates desired per snack. Don't skip snacks! Eating every two to three hours will help to keep your blood sugar levels stable and avoid lows.

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