If you have gestational diabetes, your snack choices are important. Learn how delicious snack choices can help you manage your condition and support a healthy pregnancy.

snack of avocado toast with egg for those with gestational diabetes in pregnancyShare on Pinterest
Carolyn Lagattuta/Stocksy United

Gestational diabetes is a temporary blood sugar condition that occurs during pregnancy and usually goes away after delivery.

If you’ve received a diagnosis of gestational diabetes, you might find yourself wondering how you can satisfy your hunger, both at mealtimes and in between — and because you’re pregnant, you’re probably hungry between meals pretty often.

Nutritious, tasty snack choices can help keep your blood sugar within safe limits.

Learn more about gestational diabetes.

If you have gestational diabetes, you can (and should) have snacks. Your body requires extra calories during pregnancy, so now isn’t the time to skimp on eating between meals.

During your second and third trimesters, when gestational diabetes is most likely to be diagnosed, you’ll need approximately 340 extra calories per day. You can aim for three meals and two snacks each day, unless otherwise directed by your doctor or dietitian.

Keeping snacks in your routine not only rounds out your required calorie intake during pregnancy, it can also help your blood sugar stay steady throughout the day.

The key is to snack effectively by mixing carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Consuming protein and fat alongside carbs can affect the way your body absorbs carbs and your blood sugar levels.

Besides focusing on a mix of all three macronutrients, you can try these tips for healthy snacking with gestational diabetes:

  • Keep track of calories at snack time. Strive for snacks that are around 300 calories or less.
  • Read food labels to know what you’re getting.
  • Try to include whole foods like lean proteins, whole grains, dairy products, vegetables, and fruits.
  • Keep added sugars to a minimum.
  • Avoid ultra-processed foods that don’t offer much nutritional value, such as chips, cookies, snack bars, and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Need some fresh ideas for gestational diabetes snacks? Try these 25 healthy options that combine carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats:

  1. cottage cheese with melon balls
  2. half of a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with a thin layer of mayo and Romaine lettuce
  3. plain Greek yogurt with fresh berries
  4. beef or turkey jerky and whole wheat crackers
  5. carrot and celery sticks with guacamole
  6. apple slices and peanut butter
  7. steamed edamame
  8. trail mix of nuts, dried fruit, and sunflower seeds
  9. 3/4 to 1 cup of high fiber, low sugar cereal with milk
  10. quesadilla made with whole wheat tortilla and shredded veggies
  11. crackers topped with cream cheese and smoked salmon
  12. avocado toast with sliced hardboiled egg
  13. string cheese and a clementine
  14. snap pea crisps with hummus
  15. lightly salted popcorn (or popped sorghum, for something different)
  16. roasted chickpeas
  17. cucumber slices with ranch dressing
  18. sundried tomato wrap with melted cheddar, grilled chicken, and spinach
  19. tuna salad with slivered almonds and diced apples
  20. a small handful (1/4 cup) of almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, or Brazil nuts
  21. toasted whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter and sliced strawberries
  22. broccoli florets with romesco sauce
  23. half a baked sweet potato with black beans and Mexican spices (such as chili powder, cumin, and oregano)
  24. smoothie with plain Greek yogurt, frozen banana, almond butter, and almond milk
  25. leftovers from any dinner high in protein and low to moderate in carbs

What snacks can I eat with gestational diabetes?

You have lots of excellent snack choices if you have gestational diabetes. Seek out anything made with fruits and vegetables, whole grains (such as oats, wheat, or barley), dairy products (like cheese and yogurt), or lean proteins (consider beans, lentils, tofu, fish, chicken, or turkey). Nuts and seeds also make convenient, nutritious snacks.

What foods should I avoid with gestational diabetes?

With any form of diabetes, you should keep foods that are high in added sugars and refined carbs to a minimum. Make sweetened beverages (like soda, juice, or sweet tea), pastries (like cookies, cakes, or danishes), and high refined carb grains (like white bread, refined pasta, and white rice) an occasional treat, and try to keep portions moderate when you do eat these foods.

When should I eat with gestational diabetes?

There’s no perfect timing of your meals and snacks if you have gestational diabetes, but spreading out your eating occasions is a good idea. Try spacing meals and snacks throughout the day, such as every 2–3 hours. Keeping a consistent eating schedule (such as always eating lunch around noon and a snack around 3:00 p.m.) can also help you remember to eat.

Even with a gestational diabetes diagnosis, you can continue to snack safely throughout pregnancy. For optimal nutrition and better blood sugar management, focus your efforts around minimally processed foods that contain a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fats.