Let's Eat

The Best Gestational Diabetes Recipes From Breakfast Through Dessert

Because yes, you *can* eat carbs.

Originally Published: 

Gestational diabetes is one of those pregnancy possibilities that can happen to anyone — it’s why literally everyone is tested during pregnancy. But the diagnosis can still feel jarring, and while you may be worried about how it will affect your baby, it’s also overwhelming to think about the overhaul in your diet during pregnancy, especially with all the misconceptions. Luckily, gestational diabetes recipes can still include all of your favorite foods — including carbs.

“It’s a myth that you can’t eat carbs if you have gestational diabetes,” Registered Dietitian Mel Spinella of Well By Mel Nutrition tells Romper. “Many nutritious foods contain carbohydrates, and it’s important not to eliminate them, especially during a critical time like pregnancy.”

The trick with eating when you have gestational diabetes is realizing that everyone’s going to have a different experience. “Everyone's blood sugar response is slightly different, so it's important to be checking your blood sugar and working with a registered dietitian to manage your personal nutrition plan,” Spinella says. Since carbs are the food that have the biggest impact on your blood sugar, she recommends being mindful of portion sizes, as well as pairing carbs with a source of protein, fat, and/or non-starchy vegetables.

“Additionally, it's important to eat meals and snacks consistently — about every three to four hours. Going too long between meals and snacks can also impact your blood sugar,” she adds.

So don’t let yourself get hangry, and just be mindful of what you’re eating and track your numbers alongside your food log. You may find that half a bagel when paired with eggs and avocado doesn’t bother you, but a full bagel on its own sends your blood sugar skyrocketing. Spinella recommends gestational diabetes snacks like apple and peanut butter, grapes and a cheese stick, or fruit and cottage cheese. Greek yogurt is also a great option, and the following recipes may be just right for managing your gestational diabetes.


Make-Ahead Breakfast Oats

Oatmeal is packed with fiber, which is great for regulating your blood sugar levels. These protein overnight oats also include Greek yogurt for added protein, and can be made ahead and stored in your fridge for an easy grab-and-go breakfast. (It’s also a great choice when you’re feeling less-than-stellar after you first wake up and don’t have the energy to whip up anything else.) Spinella recommends plain Greek yogurt with berries and nuts as a great breakfast, and this recipe brings it all together.


Breakfast Pudding

Another easy breakfast (or treat!) is this recipe for blueberry almond chia seed pudding. Chia seeds are full of both fiber and protein, so they’re great for lowering insulin resistance. This recipe is super easy to pull together, and if you’ve never made chia seed pudding together, you’ll be delighted at the thick, creamy consistency. Spinella also recommends chia seeds for managing gestational diabetes.


High Protein Snack

Snacks were one of my hardest meals to get right when I had gestational diabetes, but this recipe for crispy, spicy roasted chickpeas sounds perfect. Chickpeas have nearly 8 grams of protein per 1/2 cup, so they’re a great snack to eat in between meals and still get good blood sugar numbers. This recipe is also super easy, and you can double or even triple for a big batch — these little guys make great salad and/or soup toppings, too.


A Savory Dip

Dips were a saving grace for me when I had gestational diabetes. I’d pair them with a bunch of raw veggies or even use them to top chicken or meatballs as an extra flavorful snack or lunch. This spinach artichoke dip is a great combination of fats and veggies and has four cheeses.


A Spicy, Flavorful Corn Salad

Corn gets a bad rap as being an “unhealthy” veggie, but even with gestational diabetes, corn can fit in nicely with your diet and meals. Remember, your body still needs carbs, and pairing them with fats and protein can make for a balanced meal that keeps your blood sugar in check. This Mexican street corn salad is full of cheese, veggies, and seasonings, and makes for a great lunch or even a snack.


Protein-Packed Sliders

Whether you have these for brunch, lunch, or a quick snack throughout the day, these egg BLT sliders are too perfect. Packed with protein, these can be ready in just 15 minutes, and are even a great party dish to take.


Bite-Size Pizzas

When I had gestational diabetes, I ate a lot of pepperoni slices and olives for snacks, and these pepperoni pizza cups would’ve been perfect. Using a mini muffin tin, this recipe calls for pepperonis, mozzarella balls, a little bit of pizza sauce, and olives. But you can play around with the toppings and add veggies, ham, or even pineapple for your favorite combo.


Extra Flavorful Lettuce Wraps

While some carbs, like pitas or tortillas, may not affect some people with gestational diabetes, they can negatively affect someone else’s blood sugar numbers. So mixing in recipes like these Banh Mi lettuce wraps is great for giving yourself the flavor you want for lunch, but keeps you regulated.


Filling Veggie Bowls For Lunch

Roasted vegetables are so easy to whip up, and these roasted vegetable quinoa bowls could not be any better for lunch or dinner. Quinoa is a great source of fiber and protein, so this is a really hearty, filling bowl that’ll keep you satisfied.


Mediterranean Flavors In A Bowl

OK, I know there are a lot of Mediterranean flavors on this list, but don’t sleep on this chicken hummus bowl. It does take a little bit of prep work, but the flavors are unmatched, and it includes tons of protein and fiber in one bowl.


A Hearty Soup With Only 5 Ingredients

I can not get over how easy this five-ingredient black bean soup is and how much flavor it packs in each bite. All of the black beans are obviously a great source of protein and fiber, but you can customize the soup with toppings like avocado, sour cream, cilantro, and cheese. Feel free to spice it up if your pregnancy heartburn can handle it.


Meatballs For Lunch Or Snack

Any kind of meal prep during pregnancy is a blessing, and these Greek chicken meatballs are especially great. It only takes 10 minutes to pull them together, and you can eat them as a snack or toss them into a bowl for lunch or dinner. With all the Greek flavors, these are great for a salad or to pair with orzo or into a whole wheat pita.


Creamy & Savory Soup

This broccoli and cheese soup is so cozy and cheesy, but my favorite part is the bite-size pieces of broccoli and carrots floating around so there’s tons of texture. Add in some extra cracked pepper and remember, if your blood sugar can handle it, you can still have a piece of crusty bread with this soup.


Cozy Veggie Soup

For a cozy soup that’s packed with veggies, this sesame ginger roasted cauliflower soup is the one. It’s a great choice if you’re tired of lots of protein and want something that’s comforting and flavorful, but won’t spike your blood sugar.


Burrito Bowls

There are a lot of bowls on this list for lunches and dinners, but it’s because they’re so customizable and you can include whole grains, veggies, protein — everything you need. This carne asada burrito bowl is another great option, and you can feel free to add in extra limes, veggies, whatever toppings you want. It does require some prep with marinating the flank steak, but then you’ve got lunch and/or dinner all set for a few days.


Fajitas In A Bowl

Fajitas were a great option for me when I had gestational diabetes — I would just skip out on the tortillas because they’d spike my blood sugar too much — and these shrimp fajita bowls are perfect. So much flavor and, again, fully customizable to what you like and what you’re looking for. Feel free to substitute the rice with quinoa or lentils if you want a different whole grain.


Sheet Pan Dinner

I love a sheet pan dinner, and this sheet pan sausage and veggies recipe could not be simpler. Throw it all together in minutes and feel free to play around with seasonings to give yourself a protein-packed, flavorful dinner.


Air Fryer Shrimp & Vegetables

If you’re looking for protein choices other than chicken and beef, shrimp is a great one to add into your routine. This air fryer shrimp and veggies recipe doesn’t take long to pull together (a must when you’re pregnant and hungry), and you can pair it with any whole-grain like rice or quinoa.


A Classic Dinner

It doesn’t get more classic than a crispy roast chicken with veggies for dinner, and it just also happens to be a great recipe for gestational diabetes. Bonus: you can shred up any leftover chicken to make the next recipe for lunch the next day.


Extra Flavorful Sweet Potatoes

If there’s any way for me to incorporate sweet potatoes into a meal, I will, and I love the idea of these buffalo chicken-stuffed sweet potatoes. The chicken is clearly a great protein, but adding in the sweet potatoes gives you a complex carb and lots of fiber, and all of the hot sauce, blue cheese, and other seasonings make for a flavorful meal.


Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers are so easy to put together and are especially great (and budget-friendly!) if you’re feeding a crowd. These stuffed peppers have lots of Italian flavor and are clearly a great combination of protein and fiber for managing gestational diabetes.


High-Protein Pasta

Pasta doesn’t have to be fully off the table just because you have gestational diabetes. Some people may find that regular pasta doesn’t mess with their blood sugar too much, but this mushroom and swiss pasta bake is really great because the pasta is made with chickpeas and adds in lots of extra protein.


A Super Easy Chicken & Veggie Dinner

This recipe for skillet lemon chicken and zucchini is so easy to throw together and would be great to prep in advance for lunches. If you want a whole grain side, you can definitely add some, but honestly, this is pretty perfect on its own.


Instant Pot Stew

When you’re pregnant and starving, the last thing you want to do is wait for a dinner to cook, so I’m obsessed with this 45-minute Instant Pot beef stew. There are so many good things stuffed into this, with tons of veggies and meat, and it makes for delicious leftovers.


The Most Flavorful Chicken

My mouth is watering over this perfect, smothered french onion chicken recipe. With tons of cheese and seasonings, you can pair this with some veggies or potatoes (sweet are a great option, but if your blood sugar can handle it, this is a great recipe to add with regular potatoes, too) for a full meal.


A Sweet & Salty Dessert

Oh yes, dessert is still an option when you have gestational diabetes. There are tons of sugar-free substitutes out there for baking or treats, but this recipe for peanut butter chickpea blondies uses your favorite ingredients to make a dessert that’s packed with protein and fiber. So delicious, you could even enjoy one for breakfast.

Gestational diabetes can affect everyone differently, so it’s important to keep a food log and make note of your blood sugar numbers so you can see if specific meals spike it or keep it regulated. Eating with gestational diabetes can basically be a lot of trial and error — you may find that certain ingredients are just no-no while some, even simple carbs, can be incorporated into your diet without a problem. It’s important to keep in touch with your healthcare provider about your diet and blood sugar numbers, and let them know if you’re struggling to find a combination of meals and snacks that works for you.

This article was originally published on