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How should I change my diet if I have gestational diabetes?

Melissa Joy Dobbins
Nutrition & Dietetics

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you should see a registered dietitian to help you create a meal plan tailored to your needs. Ask your doctor for a referral to a dietitian or visit www.eatright.org to find a dietitian in your area. There are some general guidelines that you can follow before seeing a dietitian that can help you get started on better blood glucose control:

1. Eat 3 meals and 3 snacks a day and get at least 175 grams of carbohydrate each day for baby's growth and development.

2. Avoid all concentrated sweets and sugars, including sweet beverages such as juice and regular soda.

3. Be particularly mindful of the amount and type of carbohydrate you eat at breakfast since the hormones during pregnancy tend to make blood glucose levels rise at this time of day. Some people do well by limiting carbohydrates to 15-30 grams at breakfast, and avoiding fruit and cereal with milk at this meal.

4. Also pay special attention to what type of bedtime snack you choose. It is best to get about 30 grams of carbohydrate, plus protein AND fat at this snack, such as 2/3 cup ice cream, whole grain bread with peanut butter, or whole grain crackers with cheese.

5. Individual needs will vary, and your dietitian can help determine the best calorie and carbohydrate levels for you based on your weight and what trimester you are in. However, many people can benefit from aiming for about 20-30 grams of carbohydrate at snacks, about 45 grams of carbohdrate at lunch and about 45-60 grams of carbohdrate at dinner. Some people need to get a little less or a little more, so it's important to determine what works best for your individual needs.

Overall, most people can still eat the foods they enjoy just by watching the portion sizes. Choosing nutrient-rich foods at meals and snacks can help you get the most nutrients without extra "empty" calories that can lead to excess weight gain and raise your blood glucose levels.

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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.