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Basic meal planning

Meal plan

You need to eat and drink at least 12 carbohydrate choices each day. Most women need 14 carbohydrate choices each day to maintain the desired weight gain of one-half pound each week. If you follow a vegetarian diet, you need 15 to 16 carbohydrate choices each day to get enough nutrients.

At breakfast, include:

  • 2 to 3 carbohydrate choices (30 to 45 grams)
  • protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, peanut butter)
  • vegetable or fat, freely

At lunch,
include:

  • 3 to 4 carbohydrate choices (45 to 60 grams)
  • protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, peanut butter)
  • vegetable or fat, freely

At dinner, include:

  • 3 to 4 carbohydrate choices (45 to 60 grams)
  • protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, peanut butter)
  • vegetable or fat, freely

For a morning snack, include:

  • 1 to 2 carbohydrate choices (15 to 30 grams)
  • protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, peanut butter)
  • vegetable or fat, freely

For an afternoon snack, include:

  • 1 to 2 carbohydrate choices (15 to 30 grams)
  • protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, peanut butter)
  • vegetable or fat, freely

For an evening snack, include:

  • 1 to 2 carbohydrate choices (15 to 30 grams)
  • protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, peanut butter)
  • vegetable or fat, freely

Breakfast tips

Blood glucose is hard to control in the morning when the hormones that boost your blood glucose levels are released. To help, follow these breakfast tips:

Tip

Protein can help control blood glucose. Try to eat protein with each of your meals and snacks.

  • Eat a small breakfast.
  • Eat whole-grain bread products.
  • Eat a food that has protein.
  • Do not eat cereal or fruit.
  • Do not drink fruit juice at breakfast or any other time of the day. Fruit juice raises your blood glucose very quickly.

Completing a meal plan

Vegetables

Most vegetables do not raise blood glucose. Vegetables supply many nutrients for both you and your baby. Try to eat at least four servings of vegetables each day.

Make sure you measure out your servings of vegetables that can raise your blood glucose. One-half cup of the following vegetables is equal to 15 grams of carbohydrate (one carbohydrate choice):

  • beans
  • corn
  • peas
  • potatoes
  • yams

All other vegetables are "free" foods:

  • artichokes
  • asparagus
  • alfalfa sprouts
  • bean sprouts
  • beans (green, Italian, waxed)
  • beets
  • broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • celery
  • collard greens
  • cucumber
  • edamame
  • eggplant
  • endive
  • greens
  • jicama
  • kohlrabi
  • leeks

  • lettuce
  • mushrooms
  • mustard greens
  • okra
  • onions
  • parsnips
  • pea pods
  • peppers
  • pumpkin
  • radishes
  • rhubarb
  • rutabaga
  • sauerkraut
  • soybeans
  • spinach
  • squash: crookneck, crushaw, spaghetti, summer, zucchini
  • swiss chard
  • tomatoes
  • turnips
  • zucchini

Protein

Tip

Eat foods that contain protein with each meal. This will help you to:

  • feel full
  • get enough protein for you and your baby
  • control your blood sugar

Important

Some types of fish and seafood can contain contaminants (mercury or PCBs) that can harm a developing baby. Learn more about food safety.

Protein is important for you and your baby. Protein helps build cells, helps with growth and healing, and helps hormones work. Most pregnant women need six to eight ounces of protein each day.

Dried beans and lentils contain protein but they must be counted as carbohydrates. Examples of protein foods are:


Protein

  • Beef or veal
  • Canned fish
  • Cheese
  • Chicken
  • Cottage cheese
  • Egg
  • Egg substitute
  • Fish and seafood
  • Game
  • Hot dogs
  • Lamb
  • Luncheon meat (choose lean cuts such as turkey breast, chicken breast or roast beef)
  • Nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Pork
  • Soy or veggie burgers
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu
  • Turkey

Fat

Fat contains calories to help supply energy to you and your baby. Fat helps your body absorb vitamins A, D, E and K. Fat also gives you essential fatty acids, which help your baby's brain and nervous system develop.

It is important to focus on eating healthful fats. The following foods are good sources of healthful fats:

  • most nuts and seeds
  • peanut butter (natural or trans fat-free)
  • cooking oils (olive, canola, peanut or flaxseed)
  • avocados
  • fatty fish (salmon or trout)

Artificial sweeteners

Tip

One serving equals 12 ounces of a beverage or one 6- to 8-ounce carton of yogurt that contains an artificial sweetener.

Avoid saccharin (Sweet'N Low® or Sugar Twin®).

It's OK to eat two or three servings a day of foods that are sweetened with these artificial sweeteners:

  • aspartame (NutraSweet® or Equal®)
  • sucralose (Splenda®)
  • acesulfame-K (Sweet One®, Sweet & Safe®, Sunette®)

Many artificially sweetened foods contain more than one of the above listed sweeteners. They are safe for pregnancy, but do not eat too much. Ask your health care provider how much you can eat if you are not sure.

Tips to remember:

  • If you are hungry, add vegetables or a protein food to your carbohydrate snacks.
  • Focus on eating healthful fats.
  • If your blood glucose is high when you wake up, have a bedtime snack that includes both protein and carbohydrates. This will help keep your blood glucose in check during the night.
  • Don't drink alcohol.
  • Follow your health care provider's guidelines about caffeine.


 

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Gestational Diabetes: When You Have Diabetes During Pregnancy, third edition, ISBN 1-931876-21-6

First published: 11/27/2006
Last updated: 01/20/2014

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts