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Gestational Diabetes Diet


A gestational diabetes diet is a meal plan that helps control your blood sugar levels throughout your pregnancy. Too much carbohydrate in one meal or snack can cause your blood sugar to rise to a very high level. High blood sugar levels throughout your pregnancy can cause your baby to gain too much weight and lead to other health problems. A healthy meal plan will help you keep your blood sugar within the recommended range.


Call your doctor or dietitian if:

  • Your blood sugar levels continue to be high, even though you are following your meal plan.
  • You have a low blood sugar level during certain times of the day.
  • You have questions or concerns about your meal plan, or you are having trouble following the plan.

Meal plans:

Carbohydrate counting and diabetes exchanges are meal planning methods that can help you control your blood sugar. Your dietitian or healthcare provider will tell you the amount of calories, carbohydrate, and other nutrients you need each day. He or she will tell you how many servings of each you can have during meals and snacks. He or she can also help you find the meal plan that meets your nutrient needs and that works best for you.

General carbohydrate guidelines:

Your healthcare provider may recommend the following:

  • Choose complex carbohydrates as often as possible. Examples include beans, vegetables, and grains, such as brown rice. All carbohydrates break down into glucose, but complex carbohydrates break down slowly than simple carbohydrates. Your blood sugar level rises more slowly after complex carbohydrates. Limit simple carbohydrates. Examples include table sugar, honey, and milk sugar (lactose).
  • Spread carbohydrates throughout the day. Try eating 3 small to medium meals and 2 to 4 snacks. You may need to eat a snack in the evening to prevent low blood sugar during the night. Eat the same amount of carbohydrate during meals and snacks each day.
  • Eat fewer servings of carbohydrate at breakfast than at other meals. The blood sugar level tends to be higher in the morning. Eat fewer servings of carbohydrate to keep your blood sugar level from increasing even more.
  • Do not skip meals or cut out carbohydrates to control your blood sugar level. Your blood sugar can fall to a level that is too low to be safe.

Foods that contain carbohydrate:

One serving of the foods below contains about 15 grams of carbohydrate.

  • Breads, cereals, and crackers:
    • 1 slice of bread, 1 6-inch tortilla, or ¼ large bagel
    • ½ cup of oatmeal
    • ½ hamburger, hot dog bun, or English muffin
    • 2 taco shells (5-inch size)
    • 4 to 6 small crackers or ¾ ounce of pretzels or potato chips
  • Pasta, rice, starchy vegetables, and beans:
    • ⅓ cup of cooked pasta or rice
    • ½ cup of casserole
    • ½ cup of pinto beans, black beans, or split peas
    • ½ cup of corn, green peas, potatoes, or winter squash
    • ¼ of a large baked potato
  • Fruit:
    • 1 small fresh fruit, such as an apple, orange, or peach
    • ½ cup of unsweetened fruit juice, canned fruit, or frozen fruit
    • 2 tablespoons of dried fruit
  • Milk and yogurt:
    • 1 cup of fat-free or low-fat milk or soy milk
    • ⅔ cup (6 ounces) of fat-free yogurt sweetened with sugar-free sweetener
  • Desserts or sweets:
    • 2 small cookies
    • ½ cup of ice cream or frozen yogurt
    • 1 tablespoon syrup, jam, jelly, table sugar, or honey

Other guidelines:

  • Check your blood sugar level as directed. Ask your healthcare provider when and how often to check your level during the day. Write down your blood sugar level each time you check it. You may need to bring this information to follow-up visits.
    How to check your blood sugar
  • Get physical activity as directed. Physical activity, such as exercise, can help keep your blood sugar within the recommended levels. Physical activity can also keep your weight in a healthy range during pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider about the type and amount of physical activity that is best for you.
  • Choose healthy sources of protein. Examples include lean meat, fish, poultry (such as chicken and turkey), eggs, cooked beans, and nuts.
    Sources of Protein
  • Choose foods that are good sources of fiber. Examples include fruits, vegetables, legumes, such as kidney beans and lentils, and whole-grain breads and cereals. Choose cereals with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving.

  • Limit sweets and desserts. These foods are high in sugar, fat, and calories and low in healthy nutrients.
  • Limit the amount of fat you eat each day. Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. Examples include chicken without the skin and low-fat dairy foods.

Follow up with your doctor or dietitian as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.