Meal Options for Gestational Diabetes During the Holidays

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I was recently diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and it was a complete surprise. I did not have any symptoms – although, that’s often the case – and I didn’t have it with my first pregnancy. I quickly became flooded with mixed emotions and a lot of questions: What are the risks to my baby? What are my risks post-delivery? What can I eat? How often do I have to test my blood? And of course with the holidays approaching, what am I going to eat for Thanksgiving? After all, it’s that time of year when you can be a glutton and not feel “too” terrible about it. I love turkey with gravy, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes and definitely dessert! I just knew my holidays would be ruined. (Picture me, a 33 year-old grown woman stomping my foot, arms crossed and bottom lip out.)

Once getting over myself, I realized there are several food options for my daily life as well as for the holidays. To help you kick start your holiday meal planning, here are some ideas for you and your baby. Just be sure to stick to a total range of 45-60 grams of carbs for your meal.

  • Turkey is an obvious choice, being a great source of protein with no carbs.
  • Turkey gravy can vary depending on homemade versus canned. Using canned gravy as an example, you can assume roughly 1 gram of carbs per tbsp.
  • If you are like me, you love your macaroni and cheese. While you probably cannot have your traditional recipe, try using wheat pasta where a 1/3 cup of pasta equals 15 grams of carbs. Then add your favorite ingredients – onion, butter, egg, shredded swiss, shredded cheddar, Velveeta and evaporated milk. Or there are several recipes that substitute pasta for vegetables like cauliflower, spaghetti squash or zucchini.
  • Are mashed potatoes typically on your menu? Try mashed cauliflower instead. One of my favorite recipes is from the Food Network, with garlic, cream cheese, parmesan cheese and butter.
  • Perhaps you prefer sweet potatoes. Instead of the sugar-filled yams that you normally cook, try 1/2 cup of sweet potatoes for 15 grams of carbs with just a little butter and salt. You will still get your favorite starch, but without the added sugar.
  • Don’t forget about your veggies like a broccoli or green bean casserole. Here are some recipes that you may want to try.
    • This is one of my favorites! Broccoli casserole with Velveeta cheese, butter and Ritz crackers. Yumm-mmy! ½ cup serving = 12 grams of carbs: Kraft Recipes
    • Green bean casserole with fried onion topping:
  • Dinner rolls, depending on the size and flour source, can vary in carb count. Generally smaller rolls are around 15 grams of carbs.
  • Do you like rice with your turkey? No problem, just watch your portion. 1/3 cup = 15 grams

Now on to the important part…dessert! Since you will probably use your full 60 grams on your meal, plan on waiting two hours before dessert. That way you can check your blood to ensure your levels are within range prior to diving into that dessert delicious-ness. Plus, if you wait, you can use the entire 30 carbs attributed to a snack for your dessert. Yes please!

  • Make a layered angel food cake with sugar-free pudding, whip cream, and top with 1/3-1/2 cup of fresh berries. Light, refreshing and super delish!
  • Ice cream. No I do not mean the sugar-free kind. I’m talking about the fat-filled, flavor-filled kind. And with so many brands now offering individual servings, there are a lot of options to choose from. My personal favorites are Haagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche and Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch. Just make sure the serving size is no more than 30 grams of carbs.
  • Chocolate lover? Make some brownies, where a small square brownie is roughly 15 grams of carbs. As a bonus, add a small scoop of vanilla ice cream to the top of your warm brownie for the ultimate after-turkey treat.

I hope the above options offer you some ideas, while re-exciting you about the holidays. I know this can be an emotional road, but continue to focus on the health of your baby. And hey – you may even develop some healthier eating habits along the way or lose a few pounds. Best of luck with the remainder of your pregnancy and of course, happy holidays!

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