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Diet tips for gestational diabetes

If you have gestational diabetes, a particular kind of diabetes that only happens during pregnancy, you’ll probably be advised to pay special attention to when and what you eat.

A dietitian may help with snack and meal choices as part of your diabetes care.

These tips may help:

  • Don't skip meals. Eating regularly helps keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range.
  • Pick balanced meals with a lower glycaemic index (GI) to stop blood sugar levels rising too quickly. Starchy carbs like pasta, rice, wholegrain breads, new potatoes, sweet potato, yam, porridge oats, bran cereal and natural muesli are good choices the NHS recommends.
  • Get your 5-a-day. Eating more fruit and vegetables is better for you, and beans and lentils are good choices for blood sugar control. The NHS advises against having more than one portion of fruit at a time, and limiting fruit to 3 portions a day. Although fruit juice can usually count as one of a person's 5-a-day, this should be avoided with gestational diabetes as it can cause blood sugar to rise too quickly.
  • Limit sugary food, including sugar in drinks and cooking. Having gestational diabetes doesn't mean following a completely sugar-free diet, but avoiding added sugar when you can is best.
  • Healthy fat choices make sense. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are better for you than saturated fats. Unsaturated fats include nuts, seeds, avocados, and sunflower, olive and vegetable oil spreads.
  • Limit calories if you've been advised to. If you began your pregnancy with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 27, calorie control may be advised by your diabetes care team. Although you are feeding yourself and your growing baby, you don't have to eat for two, but make sure you get all the vitamins and minerals you both need. Your doctor or a dietitian can give you advice on how much you can eat and whether you need to check your blood sugar before and after meals.
  • If you have morning sickness, smaller snacks, such as crackers or cereal may help. Avoid fatty, fried and greasy foods. If you are prescribed insulin for gestational diabetes, and have morning sickness, make sure you know how to treat low blood sugar. Nausea can make your blood sugar drop. If you have questions, ask your diabetes care team or midwife.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on September 22, 2017

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