Sample Diet Plans for Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that only occurs during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes increases your risk of having a more complicated pregnancy; giving birth to a large baby that may require a cesarean section or giving birth to a baby with respiratory problems. Controlling your blood sugars can significantly reduce your risks. Diet plays an important role in helping you manage your gestational diabetes

A pregnant woman and her partner are cooking. (Image: CreativaImages/iStock/Getty Images)

Diet Basics

For better blood sugar control, the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends you limit your carbohydrate intake to 35 to 40 percent of your total calorie needs. Talk to your doctor about how many calories you need a day to support your continued weight gain goals. Calorie needs usually range from 2,000 to 2,400 calories a day. When it comes to meal planning, using the diabetes exchange diet can help you create balanced meals. The diabetes exchange diet divides foods up into familiar groups based on similarities in nutrient content, and you eat a certain number of servings from each group each day based on your calorie needs. On a 2,200-calorie gestational diabetes diet you can have nine starch exchanges, 10 meat exchanges, four vegetable exchanges, three fruit exchanges, three milk exchanges and seven fat exchanges. You can "exchange" items within each group when creating your meals. For example, at breakfast you can exchange 3/4 cups of cold cereal for 1/2 cup of hot cooked cereal.


Your gestational diabetes breakfast meal should consist of two starch exchanges, two meat exchanges, one milk exchange and two fat exchanges. A sample breakfast meal may include a toasted whole wheat English muffin with 2 tsp. of margarine, two scrambled eggs and 1 cup of nonfat milk.


A balanced lunch for someone with gestational diabetes who needs 2,200-calories a day should contain two starch exchanges, three meat exchanges, two vegetable exchanges, one fruit exchange, one milk exchange and two fat exchanges. A sample lunch may include a turkey sandwich made with 3 oz. of lean deli turkey meat, two slices of whole wheat bread, lettuce, tomato and 1 tsp. of mayonnaise with a garden salad with 1 tbsp. of salad dressing, 1 cup of carrot sticks, a 6 oz. container of nonfat, sugar free yogurt and a small banana.

Afternoon Snack

Your afternoon snack on a 2,200-calorie gestational diabetes diet should include one starch exchange, one meat exchange and one fruit exchange. A sample snack may include five whole grain crackers with 1 oz. of low-fat cheese and 2 tbsp. of raisins.


A balanced dinner for gestational diabetes should include three starch exchanges, three meat exchanges, two vegetable exchanges, one fruit exchange and two fat exchanges. A sample dinner meal may include 3 oz. of grilled salmon with 3 cups of cooked brown rice, 1 cup of cooked spinach sauteed with 2 tsp. of olive oil and a small orange.

Evening Snack

An evening snack for gestational diabetes should contain one starch exchange, one meat exchange, one milk exchange and one fat exchange. A sample snack may include 1/2 of a tuna sandwich made with 1 oz. of canned tuna mixed with 1 tsp. of mayonnaise and served with 1 cup of nonfat milk.

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