Eating snacks in between meals helps keep your blood glucose from getting too low in between times that you eat. Snacks also help with appetite control, because you’re less likely to be extremely hungry when you sit down to eat a full meal.
You want your snacks to be enjoyable, but also not too high in fat or sugar. Excessively sugary or fatty snacks can spike your blood sugar and cause unnecessary weight gain, which creates problems in gestational diabetes.
The snacks that you choose should provide you with however many carbohydrates you need to give you energy and keep your blood glucose levels balanced. But they should be low on the glycemic index (GI), which is a measuring system that rates how strongly certain foods affect your blood glucose levels. In other words, the snacks you choose shouldn’t have so many carbohydrates that your blood glucose levels get unnecessarily high.
The finer points
Two things that might also affect what you eat for a snack are how much you exercise, and whether or not you take insulin to help manage your diabetes. If possible, eat snacks at around the same time every day, two to four times a day.
Top it off
There are lots of low-carb options for snack toppings. Hummus, salsa, mushrooms, pesto, and tahini are all easy ways to add some tastiness to a snack without many added carbohydrates.
How many carbohydrates?
When it comes to carbohydrate content, the best snacks for someone with gestational diabetes contain between 15-30 grams of carbohydrates in a serving, or 1-2 carbohydrate choices each. Choosing snacks within this range is definitely best for your blood glucose.
The type of snack that you eat at any given point in the day depends on both your nutritional needs and your blood glucose, since you’ll be working to keep those levels balanced. It might be helpful to consider your snack options depending on how many carbohydrates they contain.
Snacks with less than 5 g of carbohydrates
You might need a snack that has very few carbohydrates. Some ideas could be:
- 1 boiled egg
- 1 cup of non-buttered popcorn
- ¼ cup blueberries
- 3 celery sticks and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
- 1 piece of a string cheese stick
- 1 cup of cucumber slices and 1 tbsp ranch dressing
Snacks with 10-20 g of carbohydrates
- 1 apple or orange, small
- 5 whole wheat crackers and 1 piece of string cheese
- 3 cups popcorn, lightly buttered
- 1 cup of soy milk
- 1 slice of raisin toast
- 1 cob of corn
- ½ cup of wasabi peas
- 1 slice of wholegrain bread, with a low-carb topping
- 10 rice cakes
- 2 rice cakes and 1 tbsp of peanut butter
- ½ cup tuna salad and 4 saltines
Snacks with 30 g of carbohydrates
There will definitely be times when you need more carbohydrates than you can get in the snacks listed above. And 30 g is the upper limit for the amount of carbohydrates that you probably want in a snack. Some good snacks that have 30 g of carbohydrates include:
- 6 oz of light yogurt and ¾ cup berries
- 1 medium banana and 1 tbsp peanut butter
- ½ English muffin, ½ banana, 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 6 graham cracker squares
- 20 baked tortilla chips
Having gestational diabetes definitely doesn’t mean that you’re too limited in your snack options. It just means that before you eat, you’ll want to make sure that it falls into the acceptable range of whatever’s good for your body – and your taste – at the time.
- “Snacking and Gestational Diabetes”. WomenFirst. Handout from American Dietetic Association, 2008. Web.
- “Food Tips.” Diabetes. American Diabetes Association, May 13 2014. Web.
- “Sample meals for carbohydrate counting.” Group Health Cooperative. Brochure DA-3420. Mar 22 2009. Web.
- “Healthy Eating for Gestational Diabetes.” Government of West Australia Department of Health. Brochure 0560. May 2010. Web.