How To Make A Grocery List and Meal Plan For Gestational Diabetes

Take charge of your gestational diabetes management with our expert tips on creating a grocery list that supports a gestational diabetes-friendly diet.

Introduction

A key aspect of maintaining your health is knowing what to eat, and when. This is especially important if you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. 

If you aren’t sure where to start in creating the ideal gestational diabetes food list, you’re in the right place. Today, you’ll learn how to make informed food choices to make living with gestational diabetes easier–we have dedicated this guide to help keep you healthy and sane while navigating GDM. 

Take a deep breath

Although receiving a gestational diabetes diagnosis can feel scary, it is important to remember that you are not alone! Did you know that between 2-2% of pregnant women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes? It’s more common than you think. 

While eating for gestational diabetes can involve a bit of a learning curve, doing so can also help you feel more in control of your diagnosis. Once you understand the framework and reasoning behind eating specifically for gestational diabetes, you can feel more confident about making the right food choices for yourself and your baby.

Writing your grocery list

So what is included on a gestational diabetes grocery list? Annoyingly, the answer is not so clear cut. 

Each birthing person’s body reacts differently, so what works well for person A’s blood sugar might be completely off the table for person B. Or, person A might be completely fine with a certain ingredient at dinner, but not be able to handle it at breakfast. Or they can handle an ingredient at week 29 of pregnancy, but not so much by week 34. 

I know. It’s frustrating!

For these reasons, it will take trial and error–and a lot of patience–for you to work out exactly what’s right for you. Keep in mind that you always have the freedom to choose what aligns with your body best and tailor any tip to suit your lifestyle.

That said, here are the categories I include on my “strict” GDM grocery list: 

  • Non-starchy vegetables
  • Dairy and eggs 
  • Proteins 
  • Pantry items
  • Nuts and seeds
  • In moderation 

You may be able to eat a wider diet than this! But I could not. 

Meal planning when you have GDM

In an ideal world, meal-planning breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks ahead of time can help you stay organized and on track when you have GDM, while also helping to keep grocery costs down. 

But we do not live in an ideal world! So when life gets in the way, even having a few favorite recipes and quick snacks in your back pocket can help you stay fed, happy, and a lot less stressed. 

Here are some of our top tips for meal planning: 

  • Choose one day each week and dedicate it to your meal planning. Don’t rush the process, but rather take it easy. It can be any day of the week, as long as you give some time to complete your planning.
  • If you want to get extra creative, go to Pinterest and download a fun table where you can write down all the meals for the following week. This might give you the extra boost of creativity you need while coming up with meals.
  • Don’t be afraid to repeat meals, especially when you find a food combination that gives you great numbers. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! 
  • You don’t need to cook every day. If you don’t feel like it, give yourself a break. The beauty of meal planning is that you can cook in bulk, and save leftover portions for later. You can also  freeze some of the food you make, and set it aside for the upcoming weeks.

A note on the foods you choose 

In a perfect world, I would tell you to eat only fresh, whole foods high in nutrient density.

But we are not robots. We are human beings with personal preferences, limited time, medical considerations, emotional needs, and financial constraints. 

When you have GDM, understanding the makeup of what you’re eating will make it easier to keep track of what might be spiking you. This means, pay careful attention to food labels. 

(Want to learn more about this? Check out our blog post on learning to read nutritional labels here.) 

A meal you make at home will invariably contain less salt, fat, and sugar than a supermarket or restaurant version of the same. It’s good to know this, and to use this fact to help guide your food choices when you have gestational diabetes. 

That being said, remember that not every meal is going to be an ideal version of itself. Remember to be kind to yourself–GDM is hard, and you are doing your best!

Ask for help

If you are the primary meal-planner and cook in your household, now is as good a time as any to ask your partner to help you. 

Start small: if they are brand new to the kitchen, share a couple recipes with them, and ask if they’ll prepare family dinner once per week. 

They could also help by: batch-cooking proteins and/or vegetables; taking over kid-lunch duty; or preparing a big batch of soup or stew on a Sunday afternoon. 

This is a small way that your partner can help ease the burden of GDM. 

Conclusion

Going to the supermarket with a GDM- safe grocery list, and planning your meals ahead, can help you stay more organized and feel more in control of your blood glucose numbers when you have gestational diabetes. 

When that isn’t possible, learn how to read food labels, so that you’ll be prepared to make the best food choices you can with what is available to you. 

At the end of the day, remember to ask for help, and to be kind to yourself! You’re doing great, mama. 

 

Where Can I Get More Support?

GD Kitchen! I created this resource to solve a problem that I wish someone had already solved before my pregnancy. And I've teamed up with OB Rachael Sullivan, DO and nutritionist Jamie Askey, RN, so that you will have all the resources, and all the confidence, I wish I’d had. 

If you need immediate help finding recipes that are designed for women on a GD nutrition plan, try our six free gestational diabetes recipes here. I personally spent hours in the kitchen developing each one. They’re great for the entire family. 

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