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Gestational Diabetes Diet: What To Eat And Avoid?

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 31 March 2023, Updated on - 21 June 2023

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As the name suggests, gestational diabetes is a condition marked by high blood sugar during gestation (pregnancy). It affects how your cells use glucose and can lead to several complications including premature birth, stillbirth, breathing difficulties, and excessive birth weight. It can also cause the baby to develop obesity or type 2 diabetes later in life.

However, understanding your diet and incorporating healthy food items will enable you to keep your blood sugar levels in a safe range. This will also help you enjoy a healthy pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby. In this article, we are going to discuss the various food items that you should eat and avoid if you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Foods To Eat In Gestational Diabetes

The various food items that you should incorporate into your diet to fight gestational diabetes include the following: 

1. Proteins

Protein is the most important nutrient for the growth of your body. It helps you feel full and is filled with body-building elements. It can be extremely beneficial for the physical development of the unborn baby. Some excellent sources of lean proteins that you can include in your diet plan for gestational diabetes are as follows;

  • Beans
  • Chicken
  • Pork with less fat
  • Salmon
  • Eggs
  • Lentils
  • Nuts

2. Complex carbohydrates

Unlike refined carbs, complex carbohydrates, when digested, help add glucose to your blood slowly, thus acting as fuel for your body. The baby receives nourishment from the mother’s body, thus it is essential to ensure her glucose levels stay within the target. Some healthy carbohydrate-rich foods for gestational diabetes that you can add to your diet include the following:

  • Brown rice
  • Dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese
  • Chickpeas
  • Sweet potato
  • Oats

3. Non-starchy vegetables

Non-starchy vegetables are typically low in carbs and rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre. Some non-starchy vegetables that you can include in your diet are as follows:

  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Green salads
  • Carrots
  • Okra (ladyfinger)
  • Cucumbers
  • Onions
  • Eggplant (brinjal)
  • Mushrooms
  • Cauliflower

4. Healthy fats

Fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered healthy as they lower triglycerides and increase the levels of HDL (healthy cholesterol). Some healthy fat options include: 

  • Nuts and nut butter
  • Olive oil
  • Seeds like pumpkin seeds and chia seeds
  • Avocados

5. Whole grains

Whole grains are rich in fibre and have a low glycaemic index, thus they do not cause a sudden spike in blood sugar. They also help in improving bowel movements and reducing the risk of obesity. Some whole-grain food items that you can include in your diet include:

  • Oats
  • Millet
  • Sorghum
  • Barley
  • Quinoa

Foods To Avoid In Gestational Diabetes

Women tend to have cravings during pregnancy. However, it is important to avoid giving in to unhealthy cravings that may affect blood sugar levels. Let’s explore some of the foods that you must avoid with gestational diabetes. 

1. Carbonated drinks

Carbonated drinks are filled with artificial flavours and a high dosage of sugar. These sugary drinks and soda can mess up your blood sugar levels and can lead to type 2 diabetes. To substitute your cravings you can try alternatives such as fresh fruit juices, coconut water or lime juice.

2. Alcohol

Alcohol should be prohibited from your diet, throughout the pregnancy period. Alcohol consumption can not only trigger type 2 diabetes but can also lead to birth defects and congenital disabilities in unborn babies.

3. Processed foods

Artificially sweetened cereals, packaged juices, and flavoured dairy products should be eliminated from your diet if you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Apart from being rich in sugar and fat content, processed food items have no nutritional value. Try sticking to natural foods that will provide you with essential nutrients and help you maintain your energy levels throughout the day.

4. High-starch foods

High-starch food items have an extremely high carbohydrate content that can elevate the sugar levels in your body. These food items have a high glycaemic index and must be avoided as they can also result in diabetes. Some high-starch foods include white potatoes, white bread, white rice, and white pasta.

You must ensure that your daily food intake has a balance of lean proteins, carbohydrates, healthy fats, non-starchy vegetables and whole grains. Staying away from saturated fats and sugar-rich foods is equally as important to maintain blood sugar levels in gestational diabetes. You can even prepare a custom diet plan for gestational diabetes with the help of your health provider. For more queries,

Consult Apollo's Expert Gynaecologists


Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt.


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