Gestational Diabetes Diet: Foods to Eat & Avoid (w/ Meal Plan)

Updated in February 2023

A gestational diabetes diet aims to prioritize foods that have a low glycemic index, like whole grain rice and some fruits and vegetables. These tend to be higher in fiber, which helps to reduce the absorption speed of sugar in the body. This regulates glucose levels in the blood and controls diabetes.

Foods with a high glycemic index, like white rice, white rice, white pasta, ice cream, jams and cakes should be avoided. These foods increase sugar levels and can interfere with healthy fetal development. These foods can also contribute to complications like premature birth, miscarriage, excess weight in the baby and cardiac disease in the baby. 

You should aim to eat 6 times per day, with 3 main meals and 3 snacks,  to avoid low blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia. Low sugar can lead to symptoms like dizziness, fainting and even seizures. Learn more about how to spot signs of gestational diabetes.

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Foods to eat 

A gestational diabetes diet is comprised of natural foods that are high in fiber, lean protein and healthy fats, such as: 

  • Whole grains, like whole grain rice, whole wheat bread, quinoa, amaranth and corn 
  • Fresh fruit, like bananas, oranges, pears, peaches, apples, kiwis, plums and strawberries 
  • Vegetables, like lettuce, tomato, arugula, onions, green beans, broccoli and squash 
  • Lean meat, without skin and low in fat, like fish, seafood, chicken, eggs and tofu 
  • Legumes, like soy beans, chickpeas, beans, lentils and peas 
  • Nuts, like Brazilian nuts, peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds 
  • Low-fat dairy, like skim or 1% milk, Greek yogurt, and white cheese (like ricotta or cottage) 
  • Vegetable oils, like olive oil, avocado oil and flaxseed oil 
  • Seeds, like chia, flaxseeds, sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds 

In addition, although yacon potatoes are tubercles, they are low in calories and high in givers that help to regulate blood sugars and manage diabetes. 

It is important to remember that whole grains are also rich in carbohydrates, and should be consumed in moderation. Read more about high-carb foods to eat in moderation.

Foods to avoid

You should avoid ultra-processed food during a gestational diabetes diet. These foods tend to by high in salt, sugar, fat and carbs, and have a higher glycemic index. These foods include: 

  • Sweet foods, like ice cream, sugar, honey, caramel, chocolate, jams, crystalised fruit, fruit canned in juice, juice boxes and soda 
  • Processed meats, like prosciutto, sausages, bacon, jerky meat and salami 
  • Foods with a high glycemic index, like cake, white bread, crackers, cereal, manioc flour, watermelon, grapes and melon
  • Tubercles, like potatoes, celery, yams and sweet potato 
  • High fat foods, like butter, fried foot, lard, milk, whole yogurt, cookies, and salty snacks 

In addition, natural juices, dehydrated fruit or canned fruit should also be avoided, as these foods have a higher glycemic index, which can increase glucose levels in the blood. 

It is essential to read food labels and understand the ingredients in your food. Sugar can be listed with many different names, such as glucose, corn syrup, fructose, maltose, and maltodextrin, for example. 

Gestational diabetes meal plan

The following table outlines a 3-day meal plan for a gestational diet: 


Day 1

Day 2

Day 3


1 cup of skim milk + 1 slice of whole grain bread + 1 scrambled egg + 1 apple

1 cup of ginger tea, unsweetened + 1 tapioca made with 4 tablespoons of tapioca, 1 tablespoon of seeds (like chia, flaxseeds and sunflower seeds) and 2 slices of white cheese with oregano + 1 kiwi 

1 fat free natural yogurt + 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds + 2 slices of whole grain bread with guacamole, made with 2 tablespoons of diced avocado, tomato and onions 

Morning snack

1 banana + 10 cashews

1/2 a papaya + 1 tablespoon of oats 

1 cup of green juice, made with kale, lemon juice, pineapple and coconut water + 1 Brazilian nut 


1 grilled salmon filet + 2 tablespoons of whole grain rice + 2 tablespoons of beans + salad with cabbage, carrots and onion, seasoned with 1 tablespoon of olive oil + 1 orange 

1 cup of whole grain pasta with homemade tomato sauce + 1 chicken leg, skinned, strewed with okra + 1 side plate of salad with lettuce, spinach and tomatoes, seasoned with 1 tablespoon of olive oils + 1 guava 

3 tablespoons of whole grain rice + col de sopa de arroz integral + 2 col de sopa de salada de feijão fradinho + 120 g de peixe ensopado + 4 col sopa de berinjela ensopada + 1 pêssego 

Afternoon snack

1 cup of orange juice + 3 slices of whole grain toast with cheese 

1 cup of almond milk + 2 walnuts

1 smoothie made with 100 ml of skim milk, ½ a pear and 1 teaspoon of flaxseeds 


2 tablespoons of whole grain rice + 3 tablespoons of beans + omelet made with 2 eggs, tomato and sized onions + 4 tablespoons of squash stewed with carrots, seasoned with 1 tablespoon of olive oil + 1 plum 

3 tablespoons of quinoa + 2 tablespoons of red bean salad + 1 chicken breast, grilled + 1 side plate of salad with lettuce, cucumber and tomato, seasoned with 1 tablespoon of olive oil + 1 tangerine 

2 tablespoons of whole grain rice + 3 tablespoons of chickpea salad + 2 tablespoons of stewed beef with 2 tablespoons of boiled carrots and peas + 6 strawberries 

Evening snack

1 slice of whole grain bread + 2 slices of ricotta cheese 

120g of natural, fat-free yogurt + 1 teaspoon of sunflower seeds l

2 corn  cakes + 2 slices of fresh goat cheese 

This meal plan is just an example of how to adhere to this diet. Quantities and food items can vary depending on current weight, health status, pregnancy week and activity level. Women are advised to consult a registered dietitian to discuss their individual nutritional needs and personal preferences to create a more customized meal plan. 

In addition, regular physical activity as indicated by an OBGYN and personal trainer is advised. This will help to maintain pregnancy weight and improve glucose levels in the blood.