Healthy eating for gestational diabetes This page contains information on healthy eating with gestational diabetes including: Diet for gestational diabetes About carbohydrates Tips for healthy eating An example meal plan Food swaps Diet for gestational diabetes Healthy eating is a key part of looking after gestational diabetes. Eating well will help you to: keep your blood glucose levels within your target range provide your body with the nutrients it needs to support your growing baby have a healthy pregnancy weight gain. When you’re pregnant there is no need to ‘eat for two’, but you will need to slightly increase the amount of healthy foods you eat in the second and third trimester. This is to make sure you get all the nutrients you need to keep you well and help your baby grow. These nutrients include iodine, folic acid, iron, vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids. What about carbohydrates (carbs)? Healthy eating for gestational diabetes includes choosing the right type, and portion size of carbohydrate foods as well as spreading them across the day. Foods with carbohydrate in them include cereals, pasta, rice, noodles, potatoes, fruit, milk and yoghurt. These foods are an important source of energy for your body in pregnancy. They also help the baby to grow. It is important to look closely at the carbohydrates you eat, maximizing the healthy carbs like those listed above, and minimising the biscuits, cake, soft drink and lollies. Don’t cut carbs out altogether. Pregnancy is not the time for a ‘low’ or ‘no’ carbohydrate diet. When it comes to portion size, it’s a good idea to eat a small portion of carbs at each meal and snack. Try to avoid having large portions. This can cause your blood glucose levels to rise above target. Spreading them out across the day can also assist to maintain blood glucose levels in range. Some example meal plans for gestational diabetes are included below. Everyone is different and needs different portion sizes. Your dietitian can help you with the right portion sizes for you to keep your blood glucose levels in your targets. To find a dietitian near you, visit Dietitians Australia or call our contact centre. Top tips for healthy eating with gestational diabetes Have some veggies like salad or cooked vegetables at every meal. Two handfuls will do the trick. Have two portions of fruit a day and choose low GI options like apples, pears, citrus and stone fruit. Choose wholegrain cereals with bran and oats, or natural muesli for breakfast. Choose grainy or seeded bread and bread rolls for extra fibre and slow release energy. Use low GI white or brown rice and pasta in your favourite family recipes. Choose reduced fat milk and cheese and low-fat plain yoghurt. Add your own fruit, seeds and nuts for flavour and crunch. Pick lean cuts of meat, take the skin off chicken, and include fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds and legumes for more protein variety. Use olive and canola oil and avocado for a dose of healthy fats. Avoid foods and drinks with added sugars and little nutritional value like soft drinks, cordial, cakes, lollies and biscuits. Although it’s fine to have these every now and again, if you have them regularly you’ll end up missing out on those important nutrients for you and your baby. Don’t forget that pregnancy hormones can affect a woman’s immune system, putting you at higher risk for food poisoning and other food illnesses. You should avoid: Soft cheeses (brie, camembert, ricotta, feta and blue cheese) and unpasteurized dairy products Sandwich meats and other cold meats Store bought sushi Bean sprouts Pre-prepared salads Pate Raw eggs Alcohol Fish that may contain high levels of mercury. Always freshly wash salads and raw vegetables. Reheat leftovers until they are piping hot (above 60 degrees). Gestational diabetes meal plan Planning your diet When you’re pregnant you do need more of certain nutrients, so it’s important to make healthy choices to make sure you’re getting everything your body needs. However, there is only a slight increase in the amount of food you need to eat while you are pregnant. There is no need to eat for two. Your dietitian can help you come up with healthy meal and snack options that are right for you. It’s best to make small changes and swaps to the food you already eat rather than taking up a whole new diet. It’ll be easier to stick to. Check out our tips on food swaps for gestational diabetes. The below meal plan is just an example of how you can evenly spread out your carbohydrate foods across the day and ensure that you get enough of each of the different food groups. You might need slightly bigger portions or slightly smaller portions depending on your individual situation. It isn’t meant to be a strict guide of what to eat, just ideas of balanced meals and snacks. It’s food for thought. Recipes for Gestational Diabetes Here are some examples of healthy recipes and general portion sizes for meals and snacks. Breakfast Two slices of toasted wholegrain bread One poached egg Mushrooms and tomato Chicken and vegetable noodle stir fry (Aim for 1 quarter chicken, 1 quarter noodles and half vegetables) 1/2 cup muesli One small grated apple Three tablespoons of low-fat Greek yoghurt Snack 200g low fat yoghurt 1/4 cup natural muesli Sliced apple with tablespoon of peanut butter Latte coffee 2 slices of sourdough bread ½ medium avocado with squeeze of lemon and pepper Lunch 90g of tuna and salad on a wholegrain roll A piece of fresh fruit Small bowl of chicken and veggie soup Seeded bread roll 2 serving spoons of chilli con carne made with beef and red kidney beans 1 cup rice 1 cup cooked vegetables Snack Slices of reduced fat cheese on three wholegrain crackers Cup of fresh fruit salad 2 cups plain popcorn with cinnamon Cup of cherry tomatoes, cucumber and carrot sticks Three wholegrain crackers Cubes of reduced fat cheese (about 2 matchbox size) Dinner 130g roast lamb 1.5 cups of steamed non-starchy veggies A medium potato 100g fillet baked fish Freekeh or quinoa salad (1 cup freekeh or quinoa) with spinach, sweet potato, tomato and eggplant 170g pan fried firm tofu with ginger 1 cup pickled vegetables 1 cup salad 1.5 cups rice Snack 1 cup reduced fat milk 1 slice raisin toast 200g Greek yoghurt Sliced banana Drizzle of honey Baked pear with cinnamon and three big dollops of low-fat Greek yoghurt How to put together a healthy meal Include half a plate or two cupped hands worth of non-starchy vegetables and salad in different colours. E.g. some carrots, eggplant, mushrooms, tomato, lettuce or spinach. Include a quarter of a plate, or palm sized portion of lean protein. This could be fish, skinless chicken, beef, tofu (170g), eggs (2 eggs), nuts or seeds. Have a quarter of plate or fist sized serving of lower GI carbohydrates. This could be rice, pasta, wholegrain crackers, beans or sweet potato. You can explore more low GI swaps below. Tips for stir frys, casseroles, curry or stews Choose lean cuts of meat or trim the fat from meat before you add it in when cooking Measure out your oil using a teaspoon per person, rather than pouring it in from the bottle. Or use a spray oil. Add a can of beans or lentils to your meal to increase the number of servings it makes. This will reduce the cost and increase the fibre. Choose reduced fat coconut milk, it will help to reduce the kilojoules you are eating and make it easier to maintain a healthy weight gain. Try to aim for a quarter of the bulk of your pot, wok or pan to be carbohydrates like rice, noodles or potatoes, a quarter lean protein and the other half non-starchy vegetables. Take a ladle or spoon full when cooking and see if the amounts of each ingredient fit that guide. For more tailored healthy eating advice for gestational diabetes, it can be useful to see a dietitian. You can find a dietitian near you by visiting www.daa.asn.au. Simple food swaps Here are some food swap tips that might be beneficial to maintain your blood glucose levels in the target range. Swap: white bread for grainy or seeded bread Why: Grainy bread is lower GI, meaning it digests more slowly and will cause less of a spike in your blood glucose levels. Swap: Ghee or coconut oil for olive oil or canola oil Why: It’s recommended to reduce your saturated fat when you’ve got gestational diabetes, and these oil swaps will help you do that. Swap: Toasted muesli for untoasted muesli Why: Untoasted muesli uses less fat than toasted. Better yet, make your own at home with some oats, dried fruit, your favourite nuts and a sprinkle of seeds. Swap: Regular white or Brown rice for low GI rice eg brown doongara or brown basmati rice Why: Brown rice might have the whole grain, but it still digests quite quickly in the body. Low GI rice is available, which may help you with your ‘after meal’ blood glucose levels. Swap: Quick oats for rolled oats soaked overnight Why: Quick oats are highly processed and can digest quickly in the body, causing blood glucose levels to rise quite fast. Choose plain old rolled oats and put them in a container in the fridge overnight, just covered with milk to soak. Microwave in the morning. Swap: Muffin or banana bread for piece of fruit toast Why: Muffins and banana bread can be loaded with added sugar and fat. Fruit toast helps you get that sweet taste with less kilojoules and less of an impact on your blood glucose levels. Keep some in the freezer to toast with a cup of tea or mid-afternoon pick me up. Swap: Croissant for sourdough toast Why: The luxurious breakfast option without the extra saturated fat. Traditional sourdough is low GI, is digested slowly and has less of an impact on blood glucose levels. Try a slice with an egg or some avocado, lemon and a sprinkle of dukkah. Swap: Chocolate bar for apple slices with peanut butter Why: Unfortunately, chocolate doesn’t fit into the every-day healthy foods for gestational diabetes, but apples and healthy fats from peanut butter do. Slice up an apple into 8 pieces and add a thin smear of peanut butter to each. Stick to a total of one tablespoon of PB. Swap: Beef mince for turkey or chicken mince or lean beef mince Why: Turkey and chicken mince have less saturated fat, which means they’ll have less kilojoules too. This can help you maintain a healthy weight gain when you have gestational diabetes. Swap: rich and creamy fruit yoghurts for plain low-fat Greek yoghurt with added fruit Why: Fruit yoghurts can have a lot of added sugar which isn’t friendly to blood glucose levels. The yoghurt section can be a minefield so grab a big tub of plain low-fat Greek yoghurt and add your own swirl of honey, some nuts and some chopped fruit at home.