Understanding carbohydrates

All foods can affect blood glucose levels, but carbohydrates affect blood glucose the most. Carbohydrate foods give you and your baby energy.

Carbohydrate foods should make up 40 to 45 percent of the total calories you eat each day.

Carbohydrate foods are:

  • beans and lentils
  • breads
  • cereals
  • fruits
  • grains
  • milk and yogurt
  • starchy vegetables
  • sweets
  • fruit and vegetable juices

To help control your blood glucose, avoid carbohydrates that often cause blood glucose to go up too high, such as soda, fruit juices or drinks, lemonade or Kool-Aid®, chocolate milk, or sugar-sweetened coffee, tea or other beverages.

Carbohydrate counting

Learning to count carbohydrates is a way to help you manage the amount of carbohydrate you eat each day at your meals and snacks.

A carbohydrate choice is a serving of food that contains about 15 grams of carbohydrate. Pregnant women need between 12 to 16 carbohydrate choices every day.

Remember: It is not healthy to leave out carbohydrate foods to control your blood glucose. Our examples of carbohydrate choices worksheet (requires Adobe Reader) will help you choose a healthful variety of carbohydrate choices each day. Try to choose a healthful variety of carbohydrate choices each day.

Sweets may make your blood glucose go too high. Save eating something sweet for a very special occasion or a rare treat.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Gestational Diabetes: When You Have Diabetes During Pregnancy, third edition, ISBN 1-931876-21-6
Reviewed By: Reviewed by Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
First Published: 11/27/2006
Last Reviewed: 01/20/2014