- Gestational diabetes occurs when blood sugar levels rise during pregnancy.
- Modifying diet and physical activity can help stabilize blood sugar levels.
- You can still include desserts, but you should be mindful of portion sizes and dessert pairings.
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) can occur during pregnancy because of insufficient insulin levels and insulin resistance. Without enough functioning insulin, your body cannot clear sugars out of the bloodstream, and blood sugar levels can rise (this is clinically referred to as hyperglycemia).
Even though desserts usually contain sugars, you can still include them in your diet. Making dietary modifications to your desserts can help improve blood sugar levels and keep you and your baby healthy. This article will teach you how to maintain healthy blood sugars during pregnancy and includes blood-sugar-friendly recipes you can try today.
If you want to receive individualized nutrition recommendations to help improve your blood sugar levels, consider booking a virtual appointment with a registered dietitian today.
Can You Have Dessert with Gestational Diabetes?
Yes, you can absolutely enjoy dessert if you have gestational diabetes. There are three things to consider when choosing a dessert:
- Scale back on portion sizes. Decreasing the amount of dessert you eat per serving may be enough of a reduction that still allows you to enjoy your favorite foods. You can try this by eating half your usual serving and checking your blood sugar levels with a glucometer.
- Pair your dessert items with other foods that slow down glucose breakdown. These foods can be high in fiber, protein, or fat. Examples include nuts, different kinds of nut butter, or a slice of cheese.
- Consider choosing naturally sweet foods more often. You don’t have to give up all your favorite desserts, but you may want to opt for more fruits during this time. They contain natural sugars but also have fiber, which helps slow down glucose absorption. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals that keep you healthy.
Drinking sweetened beverages with your desserts, such as fruit juices or tea with sugar, should be monitored because they can raise blood sugar levels, especially if paired with a high-sugar dessert. Opt instead, for plain or sparkling water, or choose tea without added sugars (which includes honey, white and brown sugars) for your next dessert.
Potential Effects of Dessert on Blood Sugar
General eating recommendations for pregnant women with gestational diabetes include eating three meals daily with three snacks. Building balanced meals that include carbohydrates, proteins, and fiber-rich foods can help your blood sugar levels remain stable throughout the day.
Many desserts can contain high amounts of refined carbohydrates, which can increase the risk of a blood sugar spike. This is because these ultra-processed products contain large amounts of sugar (glucose) and no fiber. The large volume of glucose from the dessert is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and causes a blood sugar spike.
Choosing complex carbohydrates that slow the release of glucose in the bloodstream, and monitoring portion sizes, can help you achieve tighter control over blood sugar levels.
If you need help understanding how different foods impact your blood sugar levels, consider booking a virtual appointment with a registered dietitian. Together you can create a nutrition plan that helps you hit blood sugar targets.
How Do I Satisfy Cravings Without Raising Blood Sugar Levels?
When a craving hits, try pairing a treat with a food source that can slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream. For example, pairing a cookie with a handful of nuts.
7 Delicious Dessert Recipes for Gestational Diabetes
Check out these dietitian approved dessert recipes for gestational diabetes:
1. Greek yogurt with warmed berries, cinnamon, and chopped pecans.
Warm your berries on the stove or in the microwave if you are pinched for time. Stir your berries as they heat and release the juice. Sprinkle ½ tsp of cinnamon and stir one more time. Pour the fruit onto your Greek yogurt and top with chopped pecans.
2. Homemade chia pudding with your favorite fruit.
Soak chia seeds in your go-to dairy product (it can be cow’s milk or a plant-based alternative). The next day, transfer the chia seeds to a bowl and top with your favorite fresh fruit right before eating.
3. Blended tofu with dark chocolate.
Add silky (extra-soft) tofu to a blender along with 1-2 tbsp of cocoa powder, ½ banana, and ¼ cup of milk. Blend until thick and creamy. You can add ice if the mix is too thick. Serve in a small bowl and garnish with fresh mint leaves.
4. Baked apples with oats and cinnamon.
Cut an apple in half and cover with oats, cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, and ground ginger. Bake until they are soft enough for a fork to easily pierce through (approximately 20 minutes at 400°F.)
5. High-fiber chocolate brownies.
Try a popular American Diabetes Association brownie recipe that uses black beans. This fiber-containing dessert bakes in 20 minutes and is ready to eat after a 15-minute cool-down.
6. Energy balls with oats and coconut.
This high-fiber energy ball is made with whole grain oats. You can make an energy ball using large flake instant oats, unsweetened coconut flakes, almond butter, a few teaspoons of milk, and a few teaspoons of sweetener (if desired). These treats are rich, filling, and very satisfying.
7. Sauteed peaches with cinnamon.
Lightly pan-frying fruits will release the natural sugars in fruit and enhance the sweetness. You can sprinkle ground cinnamon onto your peaches for a comforting flavor. Another option is to saute fresh pineapple or mango and garnish with chili or spicy seasoning for a different twist on sweet and spicy.
Tips for Eating Sweets with Gestational Diabetes
Practicing mindful eating techniques while pregnant can enhance the enjoyment of food. This is because listening to your body's hunger and fullness cues can decrease feelings of stress around eating, which can lead to better blood sugar management.
When you choose to eat dessert, take time to savor every bite. Focus on enjoying each flavor and texture. You can also incorporate other senses by trying to identify different smells and visually appreciating your dessert.
Pregnancy is an exciting time that comes with many physiological changes. If you are diagnosed with GDM, you can still eat dessert; you might just need to make a few small changes.
You may improve your sugars by having smaller servings of dessert. To help further delay glucose digestion, add some protein or fiber to your desserts because they slow down how quickly sugar from food enters your bloodstream. Popular dessert options include chocolate with nuts, baked fruits, and decorating yogurts with your favorite toppings.
The only way to know how eating desserts affects your blood sugar levels is to test your blood with a glucometer. A medical professional can teach you how to use this device and save your data, which can be shared with your dietitian at your appointments.
Managing Gestational Diabetes with an RD
Understanding which foods can impact blood sugars can help you make nutritious choices that align with your blood-sugar goals. Nourish can connect you with a dietitian specialized in GDM, and they can offer recommendations to keep you and your baby healthy.
If you want to learn how to manage your blood sugars while pregnant, consider booking a virtual appointment with a registered dietitian today.
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