Meal Planning for Pregnant Women With Diabetes

Your meal plan for diabetes needs to be modified when you are pregnant. The total calories you need are based on your prepregnancy weight, age, activity level, and whether you are carrying more than one baby.

Dieting to lose weight during pregnancy is not recommended, because you may not receive enough nourishment for you and your baby, and it may increase your risk for premature delivery.

Follow these guidelines for your meal plan during pregnancy.

Carbohydrate

Inadequate carbohydrate intake can result in low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) for women taking insulin and in ketone production for women who have gestational diabetes. Excessive carbohydrate intake can result in elevated blood sugar levels.

Make sure your meal plan contains:

  • Complex carbohydrate, especially foods high in fiber, such as oatmeal, brown rice, bran cereal, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, and beans.
  • Fresh fruits.
  • Milk.
  • Fresh or frozen vegetables.

Limit these carbohydrate foods in your diet:

  • Refined sugar and foods with a high content of refined sugars (sweets)
  • Refined starches, such as highly processed breakfast cereals, instant potatoes, instant rice, or instant noodles
  • Fruit juice

Protein

If your kidney function is impaired, your protein allowance may be lowered.

Fat

Monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fats, rather than saturated fats, should continue to be the primary source of fat in your diet.

Fiber

Get enough fiber each day. Fiber can help stabilize your blood sugar levels and relieve constipation, which is common during pregnancy.

Most people get far more sodium than they need. Talk to your doctor about how much sodium you should eat.

Vitamins and minerals

Take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid and iron to meet your body's increased need for these micronutrients. Folic acid is needed for the production of blood cells. And iron is needed for red blood cells to deliver oxygen throughout the body. Folic acid has also been proved to reduce the risk of fetal neural tube defects.

You may need to take a vitamin B12 supplement, which is important for the production of red blood cells, and a vitamin D supplement if you are a strict vegetarian (vegan). Vitamin B12 can only be obtained from animal sources in the diet.

Other vitamins and minerals, such as the B vitamins and calcium, are important during pregnancy for producing energy and preserving your body's calcium stores.

Very large doses (megadoses) of vitamins, especially vitamins A and D, are not recommended during pregnancy. Vitamins and minerals should only be taken under your doctor's supervision.

Artificial sweeteners

Saccharin (Sweet'N Low, Sugar Twin), aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), acesulfame K (Sunett), sucralose (Splenda), and neotame are safe to eat when you are pregnant.

Avoid using aspartame (Equal or Nutrasweet) if you have phenylketonuria (PKU).

Caffeine

Avoid caffeine.

Alcohol

Do not drink alcohol. No amount of alcohol has been proved to be safe for a developing baby (fetus).

Herbs

Some herbs may cause premature labor and others may cause high or low blood sugar levels. Talk with your doctor if you are taking any herbs.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Last Revised February 26, 2013

Last Revised: February 26, 2013

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