Manage Gestational Diabetes with a Diet Plan from a Prenatal Dietitian: Identify Hidden Sources of Sugar, Modify Your Diet, and Reduce Risk for Complications During Pregnancy and Labor

Gestational diabetes affects up to 10% of women. During pregnancy, all women experience insulin resistance to a point, as their bodies go through hormone and weight changes. Between weeks 24 – 28, your ObGyn will check for gestational diabetes. And though some women are more at-risk for developing it (pregnant women older than 25, women who are overweight, or women who experienced gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy), many women who are diagnosed are the ones who least expect it.

Do not panic. With an individualized diet plan developed with a prenatal dietitian nutritionist,  most women can keep their blood sugar levels in check and keep their developing baby safe without having to take medication. 

Gestational diabetes can be treated with diet. How?

  1. Food label literacy. The first step toward making healthy food choices is understanding what you’re eating. This includes reading and understanding food labels and finding all those hidden sources of sugars that are often found in unsuspecting sources like salad dressings, pasta sauces, yogurt, breakfast cereals, and more. Foods are great at selling healthy and looking healthy when, in fact, they can be full of sugars.

  1. Eating behaviors. We recommend most of our patients eat three big meals and three snacks. Eating snacks between meals helps your blood sugar levels from getting too low. That evening snack – approximately 30 minutes before bed – should have proteins and minimally processed or unprocessed, high-fiber carbs.
    • Greek yogurt with berries 
    • cottage cheese with sliced peaches or berries
    • roasted almonds
    • apple slices with almond butter
    • turkey rollups with cheese and avocado

  1. Breakfast is your most important meal of the day. Pregnancy hormones make it more challenging to control blood glucose levels in the morning. Choose foods that will support blood glucose control (fewer carbs, more proteins, healthy fats, and fiber). And remember, steer clear of juices. Drink water with lemon zest and opt for eating healthy fruits.
    • scrambled eggs or omelet with veggies, spinach, and sliced avocado
    • cinnamon oatmeal with sliced almonds 
    • whole-grain toast with avocado, drizzled olive oil, and feta cheese
    • Greek yogurt with berries and almonds 
    • breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, black beans, chunky tomato salsa, and avocado

  1. Enjoy family meals. Improving your nutrition status as a family is always a healthy choice. The dietary modifications for mom-to-be can be adopted by the entire family, as reducing refined sugars in everyone’s diet is a positive thing. Moreover, making space for family meals is a way to make space for great conversations, sharing, and developing a healthy relationship with food. This has some powerful long-term effects.

Gestational diabetes can be managed with diet and the support of a dietitian nutritionist. Take the guesswork out of the best foods for you and your developing baby. Manage blood glucose levels without medication. Get the most up-to-date evidence-based nutrition practices. Enjoy a healthy pregnancy, one bite at a time.

Resources: Today’s Dietitian