The Gestational Diabetes Diet: An Expert's Guide to What to Eat

If you've been diagnosed with gestation diabetes you're at increased risk of complications. Eating a nutritious diet can help keep you and your baby healthy. Follow this eating plan developed for OTD by a diabetes nutrition expert and mom.

seated pregnant woman in black dressIf you have gestational diabetes, and up to 14% of pregnant women do, you can reduce your risk of complications by paying close attention to your diet.

These meal plans provide 45%-50% of total carbohydrates in a 2000-calorie based diet. Please note, calorie and carbohydrate intakes need to be Individualized—they will vary depending on age, size, medication, and blood glucose response. Below are two nutrient-packed and flavorful meal plans for women with gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is usually screened for in the second trimester (weeks 24 to 28)

2nd Trimester

Here's what you need to know:

  • Watch carbohydrate intake. You need carbs but focus on choosing high quality, high fiber sources of carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes
  • Key, nutrients: calcium, vitamin D. Your baby’s bones and teeth are developing at this stage, so it’s essential, to get plenty of these nutrients since they are the backbone of our bones.
  • Protein: Protein needs will increase, make sure to get enough during the day by eating 4-6 oz of lean protein such as chicken, fish low in mercury, eggs, turkey or another non-animal protein source like beans, tofu, and nuts.
  • Extra 350 calories


1 whole-wheat English muffin with 2 oz cooked turkey, one slice mozzarella cheese, and ¼ avocado + 8oz almond milk + ½ cup blueberries.  (30 grams carbs or 2 servings of carbs)
Snack: 1 oz pistachios + 1 apple (15 g carbs—1 serving carbs)


A 6 oz portion of grilled chicken mixed kale and spinach salad with 2/3 cup of quinoa, ½ cup mixed fresh fruit (45 grams of carbs—3 servings)
Snack: 1% vanilla Greek yogurt with ½ cup blueberries (18 grams of carbs—1 serving carbs)


Enjoy ½ cup zucchini noodle pasta with 2/3 cup whole grain pasta with meat sauce and side small salad with ½ cup lower sugar frozen yogurt (45 grams of carbs—3 servings)
Snack: ½ pita bread with hummus, cucumbers, and tomatoes (15 grams—1 serving)

The author and her daughtersThe writer, Marina Chaparro, RDN, CDE, MPH, has type 1 diabetes and gave birth to two healthy daughters.


3rd Trimester

What you need to know:

  • Mornings are especially hard to maintain blood glucose in range because there is higher insulin resistance, so keeping carbs at 15 maximum 30 g might be necessary.
  • Harder to eat large meals. At this stage, your uterus is expanding rapidly so you will get full faster.  Tip: Have six smaller meals to maintain nutrition needs but avoid reflux or uncomfortable fullness.
  • Key Nutrients: Omega 3, choline needed for baby’s brain growth.  (eggs, chickpeas, salmon, avocado, nuts). 
  • Additional 450 calories


2 egg veggie Omelet, 8oz almond milk, one slice toast (15 g carbs)
Snack: Carrots with hummus (5-8 g carbs)


2 chicken tacos, ¼ cup guacamole with 1oz whole grain chips + garden salad (45 grams of carbs)
Snack: 1 apple with 2 tablespoons peanut butter (20 grams of carbs)


Enjoy a 6oz portion of salmon, ⅔ cup brown rice, 1 cup grilled veggies   (45-50 grams of carbs—3 servings) with ½ cup strawberries with 1 dark chocolate mini   (10 g)
Snack: smoothie (1 cup almond milk, ½ banana, 1 tsp peanut butter) 15g

For more meal-planning information, check out this helpful guide from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. 

Updated on: May 15, 2019
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