How Many Carbs Should I Eat With Gestational Diabetes


How Many Carbs Should I Eat With Gestational Diabetes? Gestational diabetes is a pregnancy condition where a woman develops high blood glucose levels during the pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is usually treated by eating a special diet which should include small portions of carbohydrate rich foods, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This article provides a complete guide on Dietary Recommendations for Gestational Diabetes.

Do you know the importance of carbs? Why should we not avoid carb rich diet in fact, the need of carb is a must to live our life. Carb is only needed for certain activities like your muscles in your body requires rest after long hours of workout,and that is where carb helps in improving our health.

How Many Carbs Should I Eat With Gestational Diabetes

Eating healthy is an important part of any pregnancy, and it’s especially important if you have gestational diabetes. Controlling your blood sugar during pregnancy helps prevent complications for you and your baby.

The foods you eat, as well as the timing of your meals and snacks, affect your blood sugar. If you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, we’ll refer you to a registered dietitian to help you learn how to plan daily meals and snacks to help keep your blood sugar levels in the target range.


The carbohydrates (carbs) in the foods you eat have the most impact on your blood sugar, so it’s important to pay attention to them. However, carbs are not bad. Your need some carbs with each meal in order for your baby to grow normally. The amount of protein, fiber, and fat you eat with your meals can also affect how your body absorbs carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are in foods like milk, yogurt, fruits, starches, grains, sweets, and starchy vegetables. One serving of carbs contains 15 grams of carbohydrates. You can find the amount of carbohydrates in a food by looking on the nutrition label or using an online nutrition facts tool.

Foods that contain carbohydrates and can raise your blood sugar

Starch. 1 starch serving (15 grams of carbohydrate) is about:

  • 1/2 cup of cooked starchy vegetables (corn, peas, potatoes, winter squash, taro, yams)
  • 1/2 cup of lentils and beans (such as kidney, pinto, black, or garbanzo)
  • 1/3 cup of cooked rice or pasta (note: this is far less than a typical serving!)
  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1 tortilla or chapatti (6 inches across)
  • 1/2 cup of cooked old-fashioned oatmeal

Milk. 1 milk group serving (15 grams of carbohydrate) is:

  • 1 cup of milk (fat-free, 1 percent, 2 percent, plain soy, buttermilk)
  • 1/2 cup of evaporated fat-free milk
  • 1/3 cup of fat-free dry milk
  • 1 cup of sugar-free nonfat lassi
  • 3/4 cup of plain low-fat yogurt or light yogurt

Fruit. 1 fruit serving (15 grams of carbohydrate) is about:

  • 1 small fresh fruit (size of tennis ball)
  • 1 cup of cut-up fresh fruit (melon, papaya)
  • 1/2 large banana
  • 17 small grapes
  • ½ cup of small fruits (blueberries)

Foods that don’t raise your blood sugar

Protein. 1 protein serving contains about 7 grams of protein. Including protein at each meal and snack helps you stay full and keeps your blood sugar stable:

  • 1 oz of cheese
  • 3 oz of cooked meat, fish, or chicken
  • 1/2 cup of beans, peas, or lentils (also considered 1 starch group serving)
  • 1/2 cup of tofu
  • 1/2 cup of paneer (a type of cheese)
  • 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter
  • 1 egg

Nonstarchy vegetables. They don’t raise your blood sugar. You can eat as much as you’d like of raw and cooked nonstarchy vegetables, such as:

  • Broccoli, bell peppers, eggplant, onion, cabbage, bok choy, celery
  • Salad greens, cucumbers, cauliflower, mushrooms, asparagus

Fat. These foods won’t raise your blood sugar, but you should be mindful of how much fat you eat and limit breaded and fried foods. Choose healthy plant fats and plant oils such as avocado, nut, seeds, olive oil, safflower oil, and canola oil. Aim for around 6 servings per day. In general, 1 serving of fat is:

  • 1 teaspoon of butter, margarine, or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of regular salad dressing or cream cheese

When to eat

Follow these tips to help keep blood sugar under control:

  • Eat every 2 to 3 hours. You’ll likely be eating 6 to 7 times each day, including 3 meals and 3 to 4 snacks.
  • Don’t skip meals or snacks, even if you aren’t feeling hungry. This helps keep blood sugar stable and helps control portions.
  • Eat a snack before bed so that you don’t let more than 8 to 10 hours pass between your bedtime snack and your breakfast the following morning. This helps prevent your fasting blood sugar from being too high.

Dietary Recommendations for Gestational Diabetes

Diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy is called gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs in about 7 percent of all pregnancies. It usually arises in the second half of pregnancy and goes away as soon as the baby is born. However, if gestational diabetes is not treated, you may experience complications.

The first step in treating gestational diabetes is to modify your diet to help keep your blood sugar level in the normal range, while still eating a healthy diet. Most women with well-controlled blood sugar deliver healthy babies without any complications.

One way of keeping your blood sugar levels in normal range is by monitoring the amount of carbohydrates in your diet. Carbohydrate foods digest and turn into blood glucose (a type of sugar). Glucose in the blood is necessary because it is the fuel for your body and nourishment your baby receives from you. However, it’s important that glucose levels stay within target.

Carbohydrates in Food

Carbohydrates are found in the following foods:

  • Milk and yogurt
  • Fruits and juices
  • Rice, grains, cereals and pasta
  • Breads, tortillas, crackers, bagels and rolls
  • Dried beans, split peas and lentils
  • Potatoes, corn, yams, peas and winter squash

Sweets and desserts, such as sugar, honey, syrups, pastries, cookies, soda and candy also typically have large amounts of carbohydrate.

Carbohydrates in foods are measured in units called grams. You can count how many carbohydrates are in foods by reading food labels and learning the exchange lists. The two most important pieces of information on food labels for a carbohydrate-controlled diet is the serving size and grams of total carbohydrate in each serving.

Dietary Recommendations

It is important to be meet with a registered dietitian to have your diet assessed. The dietitian will calculate the amount of carbohydrates that you need at meals and snacks. You will also be taught how to count carbohydrates.

The following are dietary recommendations that will help you maintain safe blood sugar levels:

Distribute your foods between three meals and two or three snacks each day

Eating too much at one time can cause your blood sugar to rise too much. It is very important that you do not skip meals. During pregnancy, you have increased nutritional needs and your baby requires balanced nutrition.

Eat reasonable portions of starch

Starchy foods eventually turn into glucose so it’s important not to be excessive. However, starch should be included in every meal. A reasonable portion is about one cup of total starch per meal, or two pieces of bread.

Drink one cup of milk at a time

Milk is a healthy food and an important source of calcium. However, milk is a liquid form of carbohydrate and drinking too much at one time can raise your blood sugar.

Limit fruit portions

Fruit is a healthy food, but it is high in natural sugars. You may eat one to three portions of fruit per day, but only eat one at a time. A portion of fruit is either one very small piece of fruit, half of a large piece of fruit, or about one-half cup of mixed fruit. Do not eat fruit that has been canned in syrup.

Breakfast matters

Blood sugar can be difficult to control in the morning because of normal fluctuations in hormone levels.

Refined cereals, fruits and even milk may not be well tolerated in your morning meal. If your post-breakfast blood sugar level increases too much after having these foods, then you should not eat them for your breakfast. A breakfast that consists of starch plus protein is usually tolerated the best.

Avoid fruit juice

It takes several fruits to make a glass of juice. Juice is a concentrated source of carbohydrate. Because it is liquid, juice can raise blood sugar quickly.

Strictly limit sweets and desserts

Cakes, cookies, candies and pastries tend to have excessive amounts of carbohydrate. These foods often contain large amounts of fat and offer very little in terms of nutrition. Additionally, avoid all regular sodas and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Stay away from added sugars

Don’t add sugar, honey or syrup to your foods.

Use artificial sweeteners instead of added sugars

The following sweeteners have been approved as safe to eat during pregnancy:

  • Aspartame, which includes Equal, NutraSweet, Natra Taste
  • Acesulfame K, which includes Sunett
  • Sucralose, which includes Splenda

When a product says it’s “sugar-free,” take a closer look

Products containing sugar-alcohols are often labeled “sugar-free,” but they may still contain significant amounts of total carbohydrate. Look at the food label to see the grams of total carbohydrate contained.

Sugar alcohols may have a laxative effect or cause gas and bloating. The following are examples of sugar-alcohols:

  • Mannitol
  • Maltitol
  • Sorbital
  • Xylitol
  • Isomalt
  • Hydrogenated starch hydrolysate

Some products labeled “sugar-free” are indeed carbohydrate-free and will not affect your blood sugar, including diet sodas and sugar-free Jell-o.

Keep food records

Be sure to record all of the foods and the amount that you eat each day, which will help you monitor your carbohydrate intake. Also, use measuring cups for accuracy when possible.

Gestational diabetes diet

Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar (glucose) that starts during pregnancy. Eating a balanced, healthy diet can help you manage gestational diabetes. The diet recommendations that follow are for women with gestational diabetes who do NOT take insulin.


For a balanced diet, you need to eat a variety of healthy foods. Reading food labels can help you make healthy choices when you shop.

If you are a vegetarian or on a special diet, talk with your health care provider to make sure you’re getting a balanced diet.

In general, you should eat:

  • Plenty of whole fruits and vegetables
  • Moderate amounts of lean proteins and healthy fats
  • Moderate amounts of whole grains, such as bread, cereal, pasta, and rice, plus starchy vegetables, such as corn and peas
  • Fewer foods that have a lot of sugar, such as soft drinks, fruit juices, and pastries

You should eat three small- to moderate-sized meals and one or more snacks each day. Do not skip meals and snacks. Keep the amount and types of food (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) about the same from day to day. This can help you keep your blood sugar stable.


  • Less than half the calories you eat should come from carbohydrates.
  • Most carbohydrates are found in starchy or sugary foods. They include bread, rice, pasta, cereal, potatoes, peas, corn, fruit, fruit juice, milk, yogurt, cookies, candy, soda, and other sweets.
  • High-fiber, whole-grain carbohydrates are healthy choices. These types of carbohydrates are called complex carbohydrates.
  • Try to avoid eating simple carbohydrates, such as potatoes, french-fries, white rice, candy, soda, and other sweets. This is because they cause your blood sugar to rise quickly after you eat such foods.
  • Vegetables are good for your health and your blood sugar. Enjoy lots of them.
  • Carbohydrates in food are measured in grams. You can learn to count the amount of carbohydrates in the foods that you eat.


Eat 6 or more servings a day. One serving equals:

  • 1 slice bread
  • 1 ounce (28 grams) ready-to-eat cereal
  • 1/2 cup (105 grams) cooked rice or pasta
  • 1 English muffin

Choose foods loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and healthy carbohydrates. They include:

  • Whole-grain breads and crackers
  • Whole grain cereals
  • Whole grains, such as barley or oats
  • Beans
  • Brown or wild rice
  • Whole-wheat pasta
  • Starchy vegetables, such as corn and peas

Use whole-wheat or other whole-grain flours in cooking and baking. Eat more low-fat breads, such as tortillas, English muffins, and pita bread.


Eat 3 to 5 servings a day. One serving equals:

  • 1 cup (340 grams) leafy, green vegetables
  • 1 cup (340 grams) cooked or chopped raw leafy vegetables
  • 3/4 cup (255 grams) vegetable juice
  • 1/2 cup (170 grams) of chopped vegetables, cooked or raw

Healthy vegetable choices include:

  • Fresh or frozen vegetables without added sauces, fats, or salt
  • Dark green and deep yellow vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, carrots, and peppers


Eat 2 to 4 servings a day. One serving equals:

  • 1 medium whole fruit (such as a banana, apple, or orange)
  • 1/2 cup (170 grams) chopped, frozen, cooked, or canned fruit
  • 3/4 cup (180 milliliters) fruit juice

Healthy fruit choices include:

  • Whole fruits rather than juices. They have more fiber.
  • Citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines.
  • Fruit juices without added sugar.
  • Fresh fruits and juices. They are more nutritious than frozen or canned varieties.


Eat 4 servings of low-fat or nonfat dairy products a day. One serving equals:

  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) milk or yogurt
  • 1 1/2 oz (42 grams) natural cheese
  • 2 oz (56 grams) processed cheese

Healthy dairy choices include:

  • Low-fat or nonfat milk or yogurt. Avoid yogurt with added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  • Dairy products are a great source of protein, calcium, and phosphorus.


Eat 2 to 3 servings a day. One serving equals:

  • 2 to 3 oz (55 to 84 grams) cooked meat, poultry, or fish
  • 1/2 cup (170 grams) cooked beans
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) peanut butter

Healthy protein choices include:

  • Fish and poultry. Remove the skin from chicken and turkey.
  • Lean cuts of beef, veal, pork, or wild game.
  • Trim all visible fat from meat. Bake, roast, broil, grill, or boil instead of frying. Foods from this group are excellent sources of B vitamins, protein, iron, and zinc.


  • Sweets are high in fat and sugar, so limit how often you eat them. Keep portion sizes small.
  • Even sugar-free sweets may not be the best choice. This is because they may not be free of carbohydrates or calories.
  • Ask for extra spoons or forks and split your dessert with others.


In general, you should limit your intake of fatty foods.

  • Go easy on butter, margarine, salad dressing, cooking oil, and desserts.
  • Avoid fats high in saturated fat such as hamburger, cheese, bacon, and butter.
  • Don’t cut fats and oils from your diet entirely. They provide energy for growth and are essential for baby’s brain development.
  • Choose healthy oils, such as canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil, and safflower oil. Include nuts, avocados, and olives.


Carbohydrates are all about energy and are found in foods like fruits, vegetables, breads, pasta, and dairy products.

Your body uses these foods to make glucose, which is your body’s main energy source. Glucose is a type of sugar that can be used right away for energy or stored away to be used later.

“Carbohydrates provide the body with the energy it needs and are a good source of many vitamins and minerals. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal,” says Donna Logan, RD, a registered dietitian at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston.

According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, the best carbohydrates are those that contain a lot of fiber, like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. These types of carbohydrates take longer to break down into glucose and give you the most nutrients along with your calories. Refined carbohydrates are sometimes referred to as “bad” carbohydrates. These are carbohydrates that have been processed to remove parts of the grain and have had sugar added. Common examples of refined or processed carbohydrates are white bread, cakes, and cookies.

Low-Carb Diets and Weight Loss

“One of the best weight-loss guidelines is to eliminate sources of simple sugars such as soda, sweets, candies, cakes, cookies, and similar snack foods,” says Logan. “Choose foods with few or no grams of sugar. Foods high in fiber are best because they provide optimal nutrition while giving a sense of fullness.”

If you choose a low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss and take in fewer calories, you will lose weight. Generally these diets involve eating less bread and pasta and more vegetables, fruits, and meat. Although low-carbohydrate diets work well early on, after six months they do not work any better than any other diets for weight loss.

“If you stop eating carbohydrates, you rapidly lose water weight as your body breaks down the stored carbohydrates,” explains Darwin Deen, MD, senior attending physician at Montefiore Medical Center’s Department of Family and Social Medicine in the Bronx, New York. “The problem is that a low-carbohydrate diet is not a normal balance of physiologic nutrition. As soon as you start eating carbohydrates again, your body replenishes your carbohydrate stores and your weight comes back,” says Dr. Deen.

Eat the Right Carbohydrates for Weight Loss

“Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, which can add variety, color, and flavor to meals. Whole grains such as whole wheat, corn tortillas, and brown rice are great sources of healthy carbohydrates. Check the nutritional label for carbohydrate information, including total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and sugars,” says Logan.

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