How do diabetes and pregnancy affect my diet?

You will want to pay special attention to the food you eat when you’re pregnant. Eating healthy during pregnancy really isn’t all that different from a healthy meal plan for anyone. However, you will find that you and your growing baby require more nutrients than you did before pregnancy. For example, you will need more protein, calcium, iron, and vitamins while you are pregnant. Your appetite may increase, especially in the last months of pregnancy.

It is important to talk to your provider and dietitian before you decide to become pregnant, because good nutrition starts even before conception. For instance, your provider or dietitian will advise you to take folic acid. Having near-normal blood glucose levels before conceiving is another safeguard against birth defects. If you are overweight, a calorie-restricted diet may be recommended before you ­conceive.

Once you are pregnant, your dietitian, your diabetes care provider, and your obstetrician can assess your dietary needs and work with you to develop a meal plan that you can use throughout your pregnancy. You will need to take into account your overall health and nutritional status.

Topics to Discuss for Pregnancy and Meals
  • How many calories you need to eat each day
  • Whether you will need a prenatal vitamin supplement
  • How to divide your daily calories and carbohydrates between meals and snacks
  • Your goals for your blood glucose readings throughout the day
Your dietitian and other members of your health care team can also help you ease into making lower-fat food choices if controlling weight gain is one of your goals. If you are suffering from nausea, your dietitian can teach you how to incorporate snacks at certain times of the day. 
Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
A diet for a pregnant woman with diabetes has two equally important goals to support healthy growth and development of the fetus as well as the woman’s health. Foods should provide adequate nutrition in a nutrient dense diet including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats such as olive oil, proteins including lean meat, nuts, legumes, beans, soy or dairy and reduced saturated fat, sodium and sugar. Second, a diet should contain individual calorie and nutrient content to support healthy blood glucose levels.

Foods contain a combination of 3 macronutrients fat, carbohydrate and protein of which all are eventually broken down into glucose to affect blood glucose levels. Carbohydrate content of foods affects your blood glucose directly and should be carefully monitored. Strive for healthy blood glucose levels by including healthy fats, protein and carbohydrate at every meal and snack. A Registered Dietitian can help you to plan an individual nutrient dense diet to meet your lifestyle, nutrient needs and blood glucose and insulin goals.
Amy Jamieson-Petonic
Nutrition & Dietetics

Diabetes and pregnancy both should be monitored by your doctor and registered dietitian. Foods such as 100% whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean protein and low fat dairy will help promote healthy blood sugar levels and a healthy baby.

Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics

The goal for diabetes during pregnancy is to provide adequate growth to the fetus and control blood sugars. If blood sugars are not controlled during pregnancy, the baby will not get proper growth of their organs. Meet with Registered Dietitian to plan an appropriate diabetic diet during pregnancy.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.