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Eating with Gestational Diabetes

By Geetha Desai, MS, RD, CDE and Leona J. Dang-Kilduff, RN, MSN, CDE

Eating with Gestational Diabetes

Use this plan to keep your blood sugar under control and minimize the impact of gestational diabetes on you and your baby.

Gestational diabetes (GD) is now more common among pregnant women than before. If you’ve been told by your care provider that you have GD, use this plan to get adequate nutrition and maintain normal weight gain during pregnancy with good control of your blood sugars.

Your healthcare provider or perhaps a dietitian will help you establish and meet your meal plan goals for managing GD in pregnancy. Most women with GD will be able to cope with their condition just by following this plan and with exercise. On this plan, you’ll be eating three meals with 2-3 snacks per day, the bedtime snack being important as it prevents your blood sugar levels from being too low overnight.

Counting Carbs

Carbohydrates in your food become glucose in your body, which is a major energy source for you. Carbohydrates come from starchy foods such as bread, pasta, potatoes, rice and other grains. They are also found in fruits, dairy foods, vegetables, sugar and sweets.

When you’re pregnant, eating the right balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat is best for you and your baby. Eating the same amount of carbohydrates at the same time each day will keep your blood sugar within the normal range. One serving of carbohydrate food contains 12–15 grams of carbohydrates. Breakfast and most snacks are targeted at 15-30 grams of carbohydrates. Lunch and dinner should be 30-60 grams of carbohydrates.

Managing your Carbohydrates

A typical serving is a small, baseball-size piece. One serving is equal to 12 grams of carbohydrates:One serving is equal to 15 grams of carbohydrates:One serving is equal to 15 grams of carbohydrates; but don’t count hard and soft cheeses and count cream as a fat and count ice cream as a starch. Milks include:
  • 1 small apple
  • 8 dried apricot halves
  • 4 fresh apricots
  • 1/2 of a small banana
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 large grapefruit
  • 1 cup cantaloupe
  • 12 large cherries
  • 1/2 large pear
  • 3/4 cup fresh pineapple
  • 1 1/4 cup watermelon
  • 2 small tangerines
  • 1 large kiwi
  • 1/2 cup small mango
  • 1 small nectarine
  • 1 small orange
  • 1 medium peach
  • 3 prunes
  • 2 tablespoons of raisins
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 1/4 cup strawberries
  • 8 ounces of milk or plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup soy milk (varies by brand)
  • 1/2 cup or 1 small or 1/2 medium potatoes
  • 1 slice bread
  • 1 tortilla (6”)
  • 1/3 cup cooked rice or noodles or pasta
  • 1/2 cup beans
  • 1/2 cup hot cereal
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 cup squash (butternut, acorn, winter)
  • 1/2 cup corn or 1/2 large ear
  • 6 saltine crackers
  • 3 cups popcorn
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin, yams or sweet potatoes
  • 4 won ton wrappers
  • Geetha Desai, MS, RD, CDE, is the Mid-Coastal Regional Nutrition Consultant for the California Diabetes and Pregnancy Program at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA. Leona J Dang-Kilduff, RN, MSN, CDE, is the Mid-Coastal California Perinatal Outreach Program (MCCPOP) Regional Coordinator/Nurse Educator for the California Diabetes and Pregnancy Program at Stanford University.

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