The sole focus of gestational diabetes diet plan should be to ensure healthy blood sugar levels and balanced nutrition for a safe and healthy pregnancy.

If you have just gotten the news about your risk of diabetes with pregnancy, then you need to know that you can have safe and natural delivery by practicing discipline around your diet and lifestyle.

This is the most important handle that is solely in your own hands. Simply because, when you eat the best foods and practice a lifestyle that help you manage your blood sugar levels; then you can avoid the pregnancy risks that gestational diabetes carries.

So, what’s the best diet for gestational diabetes? What foods you can eat? What should you avoid? And most of all, how can you improve insulin sensitivity in pregnancy with diabetes?

That’s what this post is about. You will get to know the ins and outs of diet for gestational diabetes. Also, you can start with our 7 days gestational diabetes diet plan (vegetarian) that we have have prepared for you.

Why vegetarian? This is because plant based foods are a rich source of anti-inflammatory compounds, fibre, minerals and vitamins that also provide you with essential micro nutrients for a healthy pregnancy.

However, if you like to introduce animal based foods in your gestational diabetes diet plan, then feel free to do so. You will find guidelines for that too in here. Let’s begin!

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is defined as any degree of glucose intolerance that develops with the onset of or during the pregnancy.

It usually appears (diagnosed) around 24-32 weeks into pregnancy. However, you may develop it earlier as well if you are at high risk for pregnancy with diabetes.

GDM poses health risks to the baby and to the mother. GDM also leads to complications during the pregnancy and at the end of the term.

In the past few years, the incidence of GDM has increased multi-folds, especially for Asian origin women!

Once GDM is diagnosed, one needs to be highly vigilant of their diet and physical activity to manage the blood sugar level within a safe range. GDM may subside or may continue post full term.

Types of Gestational Diabetes

GDM is of two classified into 2 levels based on the required level of intervention for the management of the condition:

  • Class A1 – It can be controlled by diet and physical activity
  • Class A2 – It needs to be managed by insulin and/or oral medications.

Signs and Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes

There are usually no symptoms of GDM. It is detected by the routine glucose tolerance test as described below. But when your blood sugar levels are out of control, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Excessive hunger
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Excess thirst
  • Frequent Urination
  • Water Retention or Edema in lower body
  • Episodes of black-out, low blood sugar or hypoglycemia
  • Dizziness
  • Nervousness
  • Blurred Vision

Since these symptoms are very commonly associated even with healthy pregnancy during the last trimesters, it is quite hard to confirm GDM without actual tests.

Gestational Diabetes typically disappears after pregnancy. However, that does not mean you should just leave it to run its course. It could spell trouble for yourself and your baby. Therefore, be proactive! Take steps to conquer it.

We’ll go on to show you how to manage Gestational Diabetes with diet. But would you like to hear all about diabetes in pregnancy? Then you must read this.

Gestational Diabetes Diet

You do not need to count calories and no need to measure every serving you take. Instead, you need to develop an increased level of awareness of when and how much food your body needs.

This will really help you to avoid the spikes and dips in your blood sugar levels. Also, it will save you from all the hassle of measuring and fretting about what you are putting in your mouth.

Include plenty of plant based foods in your diet. They carry vital antioxidants that lower the inflammation in your body and really support your journey with healthy pregnancy.

Now, let’s look into the macro nutrients that should form the major portion of your meals in gestational diabetes.

1. Carbohydrates

You might have heard it severally that carbohydrates are bad, they’re high in sugar. Especially for someone trying to manage high blood sugar. However, not all carbohydrates are bad.

You do need natural and complex carbs for balanced nutrition, to keep your gut healthy and to support the growth of your baby. Carbs are your primary source of energy.

You need only ensure you are eating the right ones. Take complex carbs and those with a high glycemic index. They will keep you full and provide B Vitamins and essential minerals.

Carbohydrate foods to eat

  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Dairy
  • Sprouts
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables 

Carbohydrates to avoid

Avoid carbohydrate foods with a low glycemic index. They can cause your blood sugar levels to spike in a very short time. Also, avoid simple carbohydrates. These carbs to avoid include:

  • Potatoes
  • Sugar in all forms
  • French-fries
  • Polished and processed white Rice
  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Candy and other sweets
  • Soda

Count your carbohydrates

We understand that carbs are the primary source of energy for the body. Your body needs it to function. Your baby needs it to grow well. Along with the quality of carbs as you learnt above, you should eat the right amount too.

Carbohydrates are counted in grams. So, you should note how many grams of carbs you are taking. However, while you strive to limit your intake of sugars, do not cut out the healthy carbs. Experts recommend that you should not take less than 175g of carbs daily.

2. Proteins

Proteins are classified as body-building foods. They are necessary for building tissues.

Proteins are beneficial for gestational diabetes in many ways. For one, proteins help to manage blood sugar levels.

They help you feel fuller for longer, so you need to eat less often. For this reason, the best time for a pregnant woman to take proteins is in the morning. They help keep your appetite stable throughout the day. Proteins may also help with morning sickness.

Furthermore, as body-building foods, they are needed to help your developing baby grow well.

Protein Foods-min

Protein foods to eat

Lean proteins sources are recommended.

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Whole Grains as Quinoa, Brown Rice, Amaranth and Millets
  • Vegetables as cauliflower, broccoli, green beans and green peas
  • Sprouts
  • Eggs
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Dairy
  • Tofu
  • Fish

3. Healthy Fats | Omega 3 Fatty Acids

A diabetic person is prone to obesity. Thus, if you are experiencing diabetes as a result of pregnancy, you need to mind the fats you take also.

There are different types of fats: the healthy ones, and the unhealthy ones. The key to eating the right type of fats is being able to identify the healthy ones.

Foods that provide healthy fats-min

Fats to eat

You should look for natural foods that provide a range of fats and are specifically rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Healthy fats help in the development of the baby and also lower inflammation in the body.

Additionally, healthy fats prevent blood sugar spikes and dips. This helps to regulate gestational diabetes.

What food sources contain these?

  • Ghee
  • Coconut Oil
  • Mustard Oil
  • Sesame Oil
  • Olive oil
  • Fatty Vegetables as Avocado
  • Seeds as sunflower, pumpkin, flax, sesame and chia
  • Nuts as almonds, walnuts, pistachio and cashew
  • Fatty fish as sardines, salmon, Tuna

Fats to avoid

Unhealthy fats put you at risk of heart diseases. They make you grow fat also. Avoid foods with refined and burnt fats. Limit your intake of:

  • Hydrogenated oils
  • Partially hydrogenated oils
  • Groundnut oil
  • Palm oil
  • Red meat

4. Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables might even serve as your natural anti diabetic medicine. That aside, they are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that support the growth of your baby and help you reduce the risks of pregnancy with diabetes.

Like proteins, they fill you up so you feel hungry less often. That is because they usually have a lot of fibers in them. Vegetables prevent the conversion of sugar and other carbohydrates into fat. Thus, they help to maintain your cholesterol levels and prevent hypertension in pregnancy.

In addition to these, fruits and vegetables can be taken in their natural form. Unaltered, no additives, no processing, straight from nature.

Foods and Ayurvedic Herbs for Insulin Resistance Diabetes-min

Fruits and vegetables to eat

Eat non-starchy fruits and vegetables, as they have a low glycemic index.

  • apples
  • grapefruit
  • oranges
  • Pears
  • peaches
  • green leafy vegetables
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Gourds
  • Squashes
  • Drumstick
  • Curry Leaves

Fruits and vegetables to avoid

These would be fruits that are excessively sweet and starchy vegetables. Watch out for those and limit your intake of them. Some examples are:

  • Processed fruits in the form of canned, cut and juiced fruits with additives
  • Excessive consumption of very sweet fruits as banana, mango, coconut, durian and jackfruit
  • Excess of tubers and starchy vegetables as potato, sweet potato, butternut squash

Worst Foods for Gestational Diabetes that You Should Avoid

Not all calories are the same! Calories from some foods disturb insulin response and spike your blood sugar levels slowly or permanently. Here is a list of foods that you should avoid during pregnancy with diabetes:

  • All processed foods and quick meals that are loaded with unhealthy fats, sugar and salt. They push in empty calories and devoid you of essential nutrients from your meals.
  • When you consume too many calories dense foods as sugary drinks, foods or snacks then you will be prone to blood sugar spikes.
  • Avoid excessive snacking in between meals. Make sure, you are not taking in more than 1 snack. Or just take cues from your body. If previous meal isn’t digested yet, then do not eat.
  • Remove sugar in the form of white sugar, artificial sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
  • Reduce and remove caffeine. It leads to quick spike in your activity level, but eventually causes energy crashes. This makes you eat more sugary foods.
  • Remove alcohol and smoking altogether. Both of these have similar stimulating effect as caffeine on the body, a quick energy boost and then crash. Also, alcohol and smoking cause and make insulin resistance worse.
  • Avoid processed juices, carbonated beverages and flavored waters. All of these contain lots of sugar which cause weight gain.
  • Remove deep fried foods and refined oils from your diet.

Diet Chart for Pregnancy with Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes Diet Chart-min
Gestational Diabetes Diet Chart
  • Each meal should contain sufficient protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates.
  • Take 3 main meals and 2 snacks to manage your blood sugar levels.
  • Consume light snacks to get necessary micro nutrients and keep yourself satiated. Examples are fruits, carrots, celery, nuts and seeds.
% of MealType of Food
65%Complex Carbohydrates + Fruits and Vegetables
25%Lean proteins
10%Healthy Fats
Diet Chart for Gestational Diabetes

A sample diet plan for Gestational Diabetes

Having learned the best and worst foods for gestational diabetes, you might wonder how to do it. How do you combine these food items? How do you ensure you’re getting enough nutrients without getting on the wrong tracks?

Here is a sample 7 days gestational diabetes diet plan for you:

DayMeal Option
1Breakfast: Beetroot Stir-fry + Barley porridge + 1 cup herbal tea
Morning Snack: Butter milk + 5 Blanched Almonds
Lunch: 1 Bowl brown rice + Cowpeas soup + Cucumber Salad
Evening Snack: Fresh Fruit + Handful of sunflower seeds
Dinner: Thai Green Curry + 1 Bowl brown rice
2Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Oats Porridge + 1 cup herbal tea
Morning Snack: Butter milk + 5 Blanched Almonds
Lunch: 1 Bowl brown rice + sprouted Mung Dal + green salad  
Evening Snack: Fresh Fruit + Handful of sunflower seeds
Dinner: 1 Bowl Barley porridge + Mixed vegetables stir-fry + Herbal Tea
3Breakfast: Cauliflower Stir-fry + millets porridge + 1 cup herbal tea
Morning Snack: 5 Blanched Almonds + 10 Soaked Raisins
Lunch: Vegetable Quinoa + green salad (stir-fry) + ½ bowl curd
Evening Snack: Fresh Fruit + Handful of sunflower seeds
Dinner: Vegetable Khichadi or Porridge + Herbal Tea
4Breakfast: Zucchini Basil Pancakes/Fritters + 1 cup herbal tea
Morning Snack: 5 Blanched Almonds + 10 Soaked Raisins
Lunch:1 Bowl brown rice + Basil Tofu Scramble + green salad + ½ bowl curd
Evening Snack: Fresh Fruit + Handful of sunflower seeds
Dinner: 1 Bowl barley porridge + Mixed Vegetables + Herbal Tea
5Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Oats Porridge + 1 cup herbal tea
Morning Snack: Roasted Black Gram + Lemon Ginger Herbal Tea
Lunch:1 Bowl brown rice + Sprouted Beans curry + ½ bowl curd
Evening Snack: Fresh Fruit + Handful of pumpkin seeds
Dinner: 1 Bowl Barley Porridge + Green beans stir-fry + Herbal Tea
6Breakfast: Mung Dal Dosa (Pancake) with Mint Chutney + 1 cup herbal tea
Morning Snack: Roasted Black Gram + Lemon Ginger Herbal Tea
Lunch: Bowl brown rice + Spinach Daal + ½ bowl curd
Evening Snack: Fresh Fruit + Handful of pumpkin seeds
Dinner: 1 Bowl brown rice with Caroots and Green Peas Stir-fry
7Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Oats Porridge + 1 cup herbal tea
Morning Snack: Roasted Black Gram + Lemon Ginger Herbal Tea
Lunch: Vegetable Quinoa + green salad (stir-fry) + ½ bowl curd
Evening Snack: Fresh Fruit + Handful of sunflower seeds
Dinner: Vegetable Khichadi or Porridge + Herbal Tea

Recipes for Gestational Diabetes Diet

thai green curry
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Vegetarian Thai Green Curry with home made curry paste

This thai green curry is simple, delicious, highly nutritious, and utterly satisfying. Kids and adults, all seem to like this recipe without any fuss. It is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Thai
Diet: Diabetic, Gluten Free, Hindu, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: thai green curry
Servings: 6 people
Author: Nidhi Bansal
Cost: $10

Equipment

  • Heavy Bottom Pan
  • Food Processor or Grinder

Ingredients

For the curry paste

  • 50 g Thai Sweet Basil Or 1 cup Fresh Basil Leaves
  • 20 g Kafir Lime Leaves About 15 leaves
  • inch Fresh Galangal Root You can replace with ginger if galangal is not available.
  • 2 Shallots
  • 2 stalks Lemon Grass
  • 50 g Fresh Coriander Leaves optional
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Red Chili optional or black pepper sprinkled on the top per picture
  • 1 inch Fresh turmeric root optional
  • 2 Small lime

For the curry

  • 200 ml Fresh Coconut Cream or Milk Coconut cream gives thicker curry and milk gives thin curry. So you can increase milk quantity to 300 ml.
  • 2 tsp Rock Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp Jaggery or Brown Sugar optional
  • 1 Medium Carrot
  • 200 g Firm Tofu or Silken Tofu
  • 200 g Hairy Gourd or White Gourd
  • 100 g Eggplant
  • 1 Medium Tomato
  • 5 Long Beans
  • 1 tbsp Pure Cooking Oil Olive oil, mustard oil, ghee, or coconut oil

Instructions

Making the curry paste

  • Cut the lime and seperate out the seeds. We will add the peel of the lime to the paste as well, so no need to squeeze it out.
  • Corasely cut the lemon grass, shallots, ginger, and turmeric.
  • Wash the basil leaves stalks and seperate the leaves from the stem. Discard the stems as they are sturdy.
  • Wash the coriander leaves. You can use the stems for coriander as it is pretty soft and crunchy.
  • Coarsely chop the leaves.
  • Add all the ingredients to a grinder with 2 tbsp water.
  • Run the grinder till you get a smooth paste.
    thai curry paste

Preparing the veggies and tofu

  • Wash all the vegetables well.
  • Cut the carrots into small pieces. Cut the beans into about 1 inch long pieces.
  • Wash the firm tofu, squeeze out excess water and cut it into small pieces. If using silken tofu then no need to squeeze out water.
  • Peel the white gourd and cut it into small pieces, about 1 inch cube.
  • Cut eggplant and tomato into small pieces for the curry, about 1 inch cube.

Making the curry

  • Heat oil in a pan. Add the cut veggies and salt. Do not add tofu yet.
  • Cover and let them cook on low heat for about 5-7 mins.
  • Now add the curry paste, tofu, salt, and coconut milk. Mix well, cover, and let it cook on low heat for another 5-7 mins.
  • Keep stirring and checking in the middle that the mix is not boiling out of the pan.
  • Close the heat when veggies turn soft. Add the jaggery powder. Mix well.
  • Sprinkle black pepper on the top if you didn't add chili to the curry paste.
  • Serve hot with steamed rice. Enjoy!
    thai green curry

Notes

You can also set aside half of the basil leaves and kafir lime leaves rather than adding all of them to the curry paste. Finely chop these leaves and add them to the curry for more flavour. If you follow this step, then add the chopped leaves in the second round with tofu and coconut milk.
Oatmeal
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Oatmeal for Breakfast

A warm oatmeal makes for a hearty and filling breakfast. Add nuts and seeds to make your oatmeal crunchy and rich in healthy fatty acids.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Breakfast
Servings: 2
Author: Nidhi Bansal
Cost: $5

Equipment

  • Pan

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Rolled Oats If cooking steel cut oats, then cooking time will be longer and more water (3 times) would be needed.
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup Fresh Milk
  • 1 tbsp Ghee or Coconut Oil
  • tsp Spice Mix Add spices per your Dosha and preference
  • 1 pinch Rock Salt
  • 1 tbsp Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
  • 1 tbsp Raisins Kapha can remove raisins or used overnight soaked raisins
  • 1 Medium Apple or Pear

Instructions

  • Cut the apple or pear into small (½ inch) cubes. Keep aside.
  • Add ghee to pan and then roast the oats a little.
  • Now add in water and cut fruit.
  • Bring the oats and water to a boil.
  • Add in salt and spices. Reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • Cook for 15 minutes while lightly stirring in between.
  • Now add milk and cook for another few seconds till it mixes well. (optional)
  • Serve in bowl with nuts, seeds, and raisins.

Notes

Here’s how to prepare oatmeal for specific Dosha:
1. Vata and Pitta: Add little fresh cow’s milk, ghee or coconut oil, nuts, and raisins to your oatmeal. You can also add in jaggery. In the spice mix, add in cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg.
2. Kapha: Add in apple or pear and litlte ghee while cooking the oatmeal. In the spice mix, add in nutmeg, fennel, and pippali powder.
Vegan Miso Soup
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Vegan Miso Soup with Silken Tofu

This Miso Soup is tangy and watery, yet filling in nature. It can be taken as a light meal option for dinner. This recipe is great for all age groups and for people suffering from health conditions such as Diabetes, Heart, or Skin.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Diet: Diabetic, Hindu, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: miso soup
Servings: 4 people
Author: Nidhi Bansal
Cost: $10

Equipment

  • Heavy Bottom Pan

Ingredients

  • 200 g Chinese Cabbage
  • 4 tbsp Miso Soup Paste Organic and Low Sodium
  • 200 g Silken Tofu
  • 2 Medium Carrots
  • 1 Medium Raidsh
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 inch Ginger
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce Naturally Brewed
  • 1 tsp Brown Sugar or Jaggery
  • 1 tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 2 stalks Green onions
  • 1 tbsp Pure Oil for cooking
  • 2 cups Water

Instructions

Preparing the vegetables

  • Pound the ginger and garlic together. Keep aside.
  • Cut the veggies into half inch sized cubes. Keep aside.

Preparing the Miso Soup

  • Heat the pan and add oil.
  • Now add the ginger garlic paste and mix till it turns golden brown.
  • Now add the miso soup paste and mix well. Stir for few seconds.
  • Now add cut veggies and rest of the ingredients except tofu. Mix well.
  • Cover and put the heat on low. Let the veggies be cooked on low heat till they turn soft, which is about 10 mins.
  • Now add the tofu and mix well without breaking the tofu.
  • Close Heat and serve with rice or bread or have it as it is. Enjoy!

Bonus Tips on following Gestational Diabetes Diet Plan

Following the right diet plan can go a long way to managing pregnancy diabetes. But is that all there is to it? Not exactly.

There is still the path of living healthily. How about getting support? Getting enough rest? All of those are a part of keeping healthy.

Health Tips to Make Gestational Dibetes Diet Plan Successful!

  1. Stay active. Exercise has tremendous benefits to maintain blood sugar levels in pregnancy with diabetes. Regular exercise reduces your chances of pregnancy complications. It also promotes the health and growth of your baby. You do not need to do excessive or strenuous exercise. A good walk around the neighborhood, gentle swimming, and other low-impact exercises will do you well here. You can try out yoga asanas too. Check out the exercise and yoga in our guide to gestational diabetes.
  2. Plan your meals. That way, you are not forced to ‘eat what you can find.’ Stock up with healthy foods, chop up fruits and vegetables in advance. This will make it easier to eat healthily at all times.
  3. Stay hydrated at all times. Diabetes can make you pee quite frequently. Keep a bottle of water around you.
  4. Eat a balanced diet. Ensure you get all the needed nutrients. Do not just eat. Aim for three meals a day with snacks in between. And do not, by any means, indulge in binge eating.
  5. Quit alcohol and smoking. Aside from their risks for diabetes, they hamper your baby’s proper growth and development.
  6. Reduce stress and take enough rest. If you do get stressed, you’ll build up cortisol. Cortisol can raise your blood sugar levels again. You don’t want that. Therefore, relax when you need to. Also, get enough sleep to avoid metabolic disturbances.
  7. Monitor your blood sugar levels consistently. This helps you get an idea of when you need to adjust your diet or lifestyle.

Before You Go!

Being pregnant is hard enough without having to worry about high blood sugar, all the testing and extra precautions that you have to take now! Yet you should know that gestational diabetes is fully manageable. And that you can have a safe pregnancy and healthy baby.

All you have to do is to adapt your diet and lifestyle to support yours and your baby’s health during pregnancy.

So, stop worrying and follow the gestational diabetes diet guidelines and best food practices to make sure you are on the right path. Better still, you can consult with a dietitian to tailor-make one for you.

With all this, you are equipped to fight gestational diabetes.

Safe delivery and start today!

Do share with us in comments on how this post has helped you. Or if you would like more information. We will get back the soonest.

References

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About the Author

Nidhi Bansal

Nidhi is the Founder of Medhya Herbals, a wellness venture that offers natural health solutions for Women. She has set on a mission to solve & simplify women's health care problems with all natural and holistic Ayurveda. Medhya Herbals offers Ayurvedic treatment through 1:1 Doctor consultations, Personalised Diet, Lifestyle and Exercise plans and online learning programmes. Start healing today!

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