Gestational Diabetes Meal Plan
Last updated on August 9th, 2016
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy where a woman and her baby are likely to have high blood glucose levels. Studies have shown that if left untreated, it can cause problems during pregnancy, at child-birth and even in the years to come.[i] Fortunately there are many things that can be done to keep blood sugar at normal levels and following a well-thought-out meal plan is one of the most important and most effective.
Meal Plan Basics
One of the most important things to realise when working out a meal plan is that although you are aiming to limit your intake of carbohydrates, you are still required to eat them.
Virtually all foods contain some carbs and it is important to know the nutritional content of what you decide to consume. A study evaluating dietary risk factors for women with gestational diabetes found that low carbohydrate diets are not likely to be protective but rather the quality of carbohydrate is more important.[ii]
Making healthy food choices is a given and nutritious food supports healthy foetal development and will also keep you feeling strong and energetic.
Finally, you must be aware that controlling your eating patterns is pivotal and that when and how much you eat matter considerably.
Six Steps for Success
Following the six steps outlined below will ensure that you keep your blood glucose in control:
Eat small and frequently
You should aim to eat around every 2 to 3 hours and try to spread carbohydrates evenly throughout the day.
Always include protein
Consuming protein is known to help individuals feel more satiated and it is also more slowly digested by your body meaning blood glucose levels will stay stable.
Eat high-fibre foods
Whole-grain and pitta bread, cereals, vegetables and beans are excellent sources of fibre. Fruits are also an option but should generally be consumed in the afternoon or evening as snacks.
Avoid sugary drinks and sweets
Sugar in soft drinks and sweets cause blood glucose to rise quickly and provide little, if any nutritional value. You should avoid drinking fruit juice as the fibre content has been stripped from the drink and certainly say no to all soft drinks. Limit your intake of desserts like ice cream and always read the label to see how many carbs you are getting per serving.
Watch your fat
When cooking try to bake, steam or broil foods and avoid frying. You can still eat fried foods, but ensure that you use a limited amount of oil when making them. Switching to low-fat milk is a good idea, however, avoid adding extra fat to your diet through products such as butter, margarine or mayonnaise.
Foods to Include
Most vegetables will not raise blood sugar and are an ideal choice to regularly consume as they possess high nutritional values. Some examples are: broccoli, artichokes, cauliflower, cucumber, pea pods, leeks, cabbage, asparagus, turnips and tomatoes.
Some vegetables however can raise blood sugar: beans, corn, peas, potatoes, yams. These should be consumed in moderation as ½ cup is equal to around 15g of carbohydrates.
Foods high in protein to be included are: fish, cheese, lamb, nuts, soy or veggie burgers, tofu and eggs.
When consuming carbs you should aim for foods that have a low-glycemic index. This means foods that are broken down slowly by the body and therefore do not cause sudden spikes and falls in blood sugar levels. Low GI foods include: lentils, berries, soya and linseed bread, porridge and sweet potatoes.
Example Meal Plans
|Breakfast||¾ cup of porridge with milk|
|Lunch||Wholemeal sandwich and salad|
|Snack||1 boiled egg|
|Dinner||¾ cup brown rice with chicken and stir fry vegetables|
|Snack||1 yoghurt and ½ banana|
|Breakfast||1 apple, ½ pear and yoghurt|
|Lunch||½ cup egg noodles, soup with fish and vegetables|
|Snack||Large glass of milk|
|Dinner||2 chapattis with vegetable curry and dal|
[i] Kim, Catherine, Katherine M. Newton, and Robert H. Knopp. Gestational Diabetes and the Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes A systematic review. Diabetes care 25.10 (2002): 1862-1868.
[ii] Moses, Robert G., and Jennie C. Brand-Miller. “Dietary Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Are sugar-sweetened soft drinks culpable or guilty by association?.” Diabetes care 32.12 (2009): 2314-2315.