What are the best snacks to eat for gestational diabetes? I’ll tell you, but first, I’m going to try to convince you not to snack very much.
When you have diabetes in pregnancy and you get dietary counseling, a lot of times they will tell you to eat three meals a day plus three snacks.
That’s good advice for some people with a rapid metabolism, but it’s not good advice for everybody, especially if you have less than four hours between meals.
When should you snack?
If you eat breakfast at 7:00 am and you’re going to have lunch at 11:00 or 11:30 am, you may not need a snack. However, if you have lunch at 11:30 am and you’re not going to eat dinner until six o’clock, you may need a snack in the afternoon.
Snacks are overrated – not everybody needs a snack between meals. Every time you eat, your body makes insulin, mostly in response to carbohydrates. Insulin does plenty of good things. It helps glucose move inside the cells, so you have plenty of energy. But insulin is an anabolic hormone, which means that it also promotes fat storage and weight gain.
When you eat frequently, you have insulin circulating all the time, and you become “insulin resistant.” You develop a tolerance to it, so you will need more and more insulin to keep blood glucoses under control. You want to give insulin production a break by taking a few hours between your meals. If you are able to skip a snack and go at least four hours between meals, insulin production can slow down, so you will be more sensitive to it when mealtime comes around again.
Snack ideas for diabetes in pregnancy
I’m not saying to eliminate all snacks. Certainly, if you’re hungry, you should eat, but just try to space your eating out a little bit. You really don’t need to eat every two to three hours. If you are going to snack, here are some great examples.
Nuts are one of the best snacks around. They’re high in healthy fats. Some of the best nuts to snack on are almonds, walnuts, and Brazil nuts. They are full of nutrients.
Dairy & Cheese
Next is dairy and cheese. One of my favorite snacks is Peppadew peppers stuffed with cream cheese. They are delicious and a little spicy, so you don’t tend to eat them as quickly or binge on them. Butterkase cheese is also a favorite. It’s a mild German cheese. Remember that while pregnant you want to avoid soft ripened cheeses like Roquefort, Brie (unless it’s cooked), and unpasteurized soft cheeses because you are at risk for developing bacterial infections with those. But knock yourself out on cheddar, Swiss, and pasteurized cheeses like ricotta, cream cheese, mozzarella, and feta.
Meats & Protein
You want to be careful with deli meat, but meat, in general, is a pretty good snack food. Leftovers from last night’s dinner? Some chicken or beef? That’s a great snack for you, with lots of protein and not a lot of carbs.
Tuna fish and chicken salad tend to be low in carbs and high in protein. They make a great snack! Eat them with carrots or bell pepper strips instead of crackers or bread when possible.
To wrap it up
Remember, you may not need a snack. Maybe you’re thirsty and you should have a glass of water, then check to see if you’re hungry again.
If you are actually hungry and it’s going to be a while until your next meal, eat a healthy snack. Just make sure it’s got protein, fat, and fiber in addition to carbs. No naked carbs, as nutritionist Lily Nichols says!
I’m excited to announce that I’m introducing a course in late September called “Conquering Diabetes In Pregnancy”. This course has a ton of information about diet and exercise, with downloadable diet forms, and all kinds of things that are going to help you manage your diabetes in pregnancy.
And don’t forget I’ve got a brand new free printable PDF checklist comparing four different diets that can help with gestational diabetes, so you can get started conquering diabetes right now. And when you subscribe, you’ll be the first to know when the course comes out. There’s no need to worry. You’ve got this! Stick with me and I will show you how.