Foods You Should Avoid If You Have Gestational Diabetes

sugary foods to avoid in pregnancy diabetes

Gestational Diabetes is diagnosed the first time when you are pregnant. It is diagnosed between 24 and 32 weeks of pregnancy.

It lasts until your pregnancy and fades as soon as you deliver the baby. However, gestational diabetes can turn into type 2 diabetes if it doesn’t disappear after you have delivered the baby.

That’s why care is essential to ensure that your glucose levels are managed and under control throughout your pregnancy.

How you manage your gestational diabetes also affects your risk of developing diabetes in future pregnancies.

The hormonal imbalance caused by the placenta can affect insulin function. Insulin provides energy from the food you eat to you and your baby.

Your blood glucose levels increase drastically when your insulin stops functioning or your body doesn’t produce enough insulin to absorb glucose from the blood.

As a result, the glucose levels in your bloodstream rise significantly, increasing your risk of diabetes.

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you need to make dietary changes to ensure the food you eat is aligned with your health and can help you meet your nutritional requirements while controlling glucose.

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How Diet Affects Gestational Diabetes

If you notice the symptoms of gestational diabetes, your gynecologist will test your glucose levels.

If you are positive for diabetes, they will refer you to a dietician who’ll work with you to prepare a diet chart that will keep your blood glucose levels in check throughout your pregnancy.

Fortunately, diabetes can be managed with good dietary habits. You just need to ensure that you eat the right food in small portions to avoid sudden weight gain.

Most women are able to treat gestational diabetes with a good diet plan. However, 15% of ladies need to take insulin injections, as diet alone might not respond well to your insulin resistance.

If your body isn’t producing adequate insulin to meet your and your baby’s glucose needs, insulin with medications might be needed to get them under control.

Most of us know that lean protein, healthy fats, complex carbs, and fiber-rich and low-calorie foods are safe for pregnant women diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

But what about the foods that can have a negative impact on you and the fetus? In this post, we will walk you through a list of foods to avoid with gestational diabetes.

Foods to Avoid With Gestational Diabetes

All kinds of foods can be eaten, so long as you eat them in moderation. Basically, there are no strict restrictions regarding what you can and can’t eat with gestational diabetes.

As a general rule, you should avoid foods and drinks rich in sugar, such as candy, cakes, cold drinks, and cookies. Simple carbs are also bad for your health.

You should rather replace them with complex carbs. A few examples are white rice, cereals, white flour, and all kinds of processed foods.

These can increase your blood glucose levels quickly, increasing the risk of complications in your pregnancy.

Women often ask what to do when they have sugar cravings. It’s normal to crave processed foods or foods rich in sugar at some point in your pregnancy.

When that happens, you can eat small portions of the food you are craving. For instance, if you are craving soda, take 1-2 sips and then drink plenty of water. Or, you can order a glass of diet soda.

Here’s what not to eat with gestational diabetes.

Sugar-rich Food

Baked foods rich in sugar are a big no for women with gestational diabetes. Ice creams, cake, doughnuts, soda, candy, and all baked foods can raise your blood sugar levels quickly, making gestational diabetes unmanageable.

But you can’t avoid holidays and special occasions. Keep in mind that anything containing excess sugar is okay as long as it’s eaten in moderation and once in a while. Remember, balance is the key.

If you think you have eaten access carbs or sugar-rich foods, go for a walk or practice a low-impact exercise after consulting your gynecologist. That will compensate.

Beverages and Sugary Drinks

Drinks with artificial sweeteners can raise your blood glucose levels significantly. Any beverage that’s sweetened with added sugar, even if it’s fruit juice, then that’s unhealthy.

It’s best to replace them with unsweetened beverages or 100% fresh, natural juice that’s approved by your healthcare provider. Sweetened drinks raise your glucose levels and have no nutritional value.

Shellfish and Shark

Seafood is healthy for pregnant women, even those with gestational diabetes. Fish, like salmon and sardine, cord, and lake trout, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids—the healthy fat.

So, these should be added to the gestational diabetes diet. In fact, you should eat 2-3 portions of healthy fish every week.

But, certain types of fish are unsafe for pregnant women and everyone in general.

These are fish rich in mercury, a harmful compound found in marine animals that live in polluted water. Sharks and shellfish are common examples of fish rich in mercury.

Marlin, swordfish, and sharks contain toxins that can harm you and your baby’s health.

Raw and Uncooked Food

Pregnant women should be careful about raw and uncooked food. Raw meat, especially, contains a lot of toxins and harmful bacteria that can increase your risk of miscarriage.

Salmonella is one such pathogen that can make you sick. Toxoplasmosis is another toxin that can cause miscarriage if it enters your body. Raw meat is a big no for pregnant women with gestational diabetes.

You should also avoid liver and liver-based products during pregnancy, as those are rich in vitamin A. Too much vitamin A can harm your baby.

Unpasteurized Milk or Dairy

Pasteurization is the process used to heat milk and dairy products for 15 seconds to kill all harmful pathogens.

Although that doesn’t necessarily mean unpasteurized milk is harmful, it has a slight chance of harming your baby.

Also, avoid cheese containing an outer white coating, as bacteria thrive on the outer white surface.

Tip for Keeping Your Gestational Diabetes Managed During Pregnancy

There’s a ton of information about what to eat and what not to eat with gestational diabetes.

Don’t feel overwhelmed, as a few changes in your diet will go a long way in keeping your blood glucose levels under control.

Now that you know what foods to avoid with gestational diabetes, you should also know the other healthy tips for managing gestational diabetes. Let’s check out a few.

Be Careful about the Glycemic Index

The glycemic index of any food shows how fast carbs affect your glucose levels. Foods with a high glycemic index are unsafe for people with gestational diabetes or type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

It’s advisable to avoid carbs rich in the glycemic index as much as possible or replace them with low-GI carbs or complex carbs. Here are a few examples of foods rich in glycemic index.

  • Sugar-rich drinks
  • Fruit juices
  • White bread
  • White rice
  • Potatoes
  • Cereals

You should replace these foods with fruits and vegetables, whole grain foods, and pulses to keep your blood glucose levels in check.

Be Consistent with Your Diet

A pregnant woman with gestational diabetes must follow a consistent diet chart. It’s incredibly important that you eat a balanced meal three times a day without skipping.

You should eat in small portions, but be consistent. Start your day with a light breakfast, including eggs, fruits, and whole grains.

For lunch, you can have a protein and fiber-rich diet. Have a light dinner so that you can sleep well and wake up feeling fresh and healthy.

For snack cravings, you should eat nuts or fruits. Always keep them in your bags when going out.

Portion Sizes are Important

Managing gestational diabetes is all about watching your portion size. The portion size is as important as the food itself.

People have a misconception that pregnant women should eat for two, but that’s not healthy for those with gestational diabetes.

Yes, you may need extra food in your third trimester, but that’s just an extra 200 calories, which is half a sandwich extra.

Remember that eating a healthy diet will be useless if you eat in large portions. It will raise your blood glucose levels quickly, making it difficult to manage your diabetes.

Customize Your Diet to Your Needs

Everyone is different, and their requirement may vary depending on their blood glucose levels, pregnancy complications, and existing medical conditions.

It’s best to discuss your goals and diet with a dietician to prepare a healthy diet plan that fits your individual requirements.

What’s working for other women may not work for you. For instance, some women report increased blood glucose levels from fruits, oats, and other foods, which are considered healthy for gestational diabetes.


Hope this post helped you discover the food to avoid with gestational diabetes. For more information, talk to your gynecologist and work closely with your dietician.

They will help you establish a diet plan that fulfills your cravings without raising your blood glucose or causing any harm to the baby.

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