Gestational diabetes is a common condition that is marked by an increased level of blood sugar during pregnancy. As the name suggests, it only affects pregnant women. Those women who develop gestational diabetes are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. 

This condition is curable and managed by a medical professional and can be easily maintained by eating a healthy, balanced diet.

Following are a few diet recommendations for women with gestational diabetes who do not take insulin. 

What to eat?

In general, you should eat protein with every meal, along with the right amount of carbohydrates and fats. In addition, try including fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. Avoid the consumption of processed foods, and be sure not to overeat.

Once you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, work with your doctor or a dietician to develop a diet plan that includes optimal intake of essential nutrients. 

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What nutrients to consume?

Your primary focus should be to base your meals around protein. Try consuming lots of fresh food and avoid or limit your intake of processed foods. For instance, each one of your meals should contain 25 percent protein, 25 percent starch, 50 percent salad, vegetables, or other non-starchy foods. 

However, these diet guidelines are generalized and can vary from patient to patient. Be sure to talk with your doctor about the diet plan that best suits your condition. You can also work with a dietician to get a personalized meal plan along with other specific recommendations. 

Carbohydrates

As a general rule, less than half the total calories you consume in a day should come from carbohydrates. Starchy and sugary foods are the primary source of carbohydrates; these include pasta, bread, rice, potatoes, corn, milk, yogurt, candy, soda, cookies, etc. 

Avoid consuming simple carbohydrates, such as potatoes, french fries, candy, soda, and other sweets. Instead, stick to high-fiber, whole-grain carbs. These types of carbohydrates are also referred to as complex carbohydrates and are much healthier to eat. Also, vegetables are a great source of fiber and are excellent for your blood sugar and overall health, so try eating a lot of them.   

Fruits

You can certainly eat fruits when you have diabetes; just make sure you keep track of how much you eat it. In general, you can eat two to four servings of fruit per day, which include one medium whole fruit like banana or apple, half a cup cooked or canned fruit, and three-quarters cup of fruit juice. 

Healthy food choices for gestational diabetes include:

  • Eat whole fruits instead of juices as they don’t have any fiber. 
  • Eat citrus fruits such as tangerines, grapefruits, and oranges.
  • Consume fruit juices without any added sugars. 
  • Consume fresh juices and fruits as they are more nutritious than canned or frozen variants.

Grains, beans, and starchy vegetables

You can eat six or more servings per day of one slice bread with one ounce ready-to-eat cereal, one English muffin, and half cup cooked pasta or rice. In general, pick foods that are loaded with minerals, fibers, vitamins, and healthy carbohydrates. 

These include:

  • Whole-grain cereals
  • Whole-grain crackers and bread
  • Beans
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Starchy vegetables, such as peas and corn

Thus, use whole-wheat or whole-grain flours in baking and cooking, and eat low-fat bread such as tortillas, pita bread, and English muffins. 

Vegetables

You can eat three to five servings of vegetables per day, which include one cup of green, leafy vegetables, one cup of chopped or cooked raw leafy vegetables, three-quarters of a cup of vegetable juice, and half a cup of chopped vegetables (cooked or raw). 

Healthy vegetable choices consist of fresh or frozen vegetables that do not contain any added fats, sauces, or salt. Also, dark green and deep yellow vegetables like spinach, broccoli, peppers, and carrots are beneficial for fighting gestational diabetes. 

Dairy and milk

You can eat up to four servings of no-fat or low-fat dairy products per day, which includes one cup of milk or yogurt, one and a half oz natural cheese, and a couple of oz of processed foods. 

In general, stick to low-fat or no-fat dairy products that are free from any artificial sweeteners. 

Meals and snacks

Here is a list of some meals and snacks you should eat if you have gestational diabetes. 

  • Eggs and egg whites
  • Fresh fruits
  • Baked fish
  • Skinless chicken breast
  • Steel cut oatmeal with berries
  • Fresh or frozen vegetables 
  • Unsweetened Greek yogurt 
  • Air-popped popcorn

You can also use the above foods to make delicious recipes, such as vegetable soups, protein drinks, smoothies (diabetes-friendly), and more.

Gestational diabetes is highly curable and easily manageable if you stick to a healthy diet plan. On a general note, be sure to avoid excessive sugar and carbohydrate intake, and promote the consumption of proteins, vitamins, fibers, and minerals.

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