12 Low-Carb Pregnancy Snacks for Gestational Diabetes
When you’ve got higher than normal blood sugar levels in pregnancy, you’ve got what’s called gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), or just plain ol' gestational diabetes. Roughly 6 to 9% of pregnant Americans develop gestational diabetes.
Here, after eating carbohydrates, the sugar (aka glucose) from your meal lingers in your blood instead of entering your cells to be used for energy, like it was supposed to. Normally, your body produces enough of a hormone called insulin that works hard to keep your blood sugar levels just-right. For most pregnant people, their bodies continue to do a great job churning out the proper amount of insulin. But for some, pregnancy hormones can interfere with insulin production, causing a dip. That insulin dip means blood sugar levels go up…leading to gestational diabetes.
Some moms-to-be with gestational diabetes may need medication, but many improve with a few lifestyle tweaks—including eating small, frequent, nutritious meals and snacks that are low in carbs and rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Don’t worry! Finding convenient (and delicious and healthy) low-carb pregnancy snacks is not as hard as you think! Here, 15 fabulous low-carb, gestational diabetes-friendly snacks that are simply exploding with good nutrition to keep your gestational diabetes in check.
Low-Carb Pregnancy Snack #1: Tuna Salad
Canned light tuna is a safe, healthy option for pregnancy. A 3-ounce serving of canned light tuna has a jaw-dropping 22 grams of protein and, wait for it…zero carbs! Tuna also offers omega 3-fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and enhance blood sugar control. Try making tuna salad with mashed avocado instead of mayo and spread it over 100% whole grain crackers, inside celery stalks, or over a spinach salad. Just remember: Keep your fish intake to 8 to 12 ounces a week during pregnancy to avoid high levels of harmful heavy metals.
Low-Carb Pregnancy Snack #2: Walnuts and Blueberries
Walnuts and blueberries are a powerful nutrient-rich and low-carb combo that’s perfect for maintaining a healthy pregnancy while dealing with gestational diabetes. In fact, both walnuts and blueberries make the American Diabetes Association list of diabetes superfoods! Part of the reason: Walnuts are a great source of protein, which helps keep your blood sugar from spiking too high. (And they’re chock-full of omega-3-fatty acids, supporting Baby’s healthy brain growth, learning, and memory development.) Meanwhile, research suggests that antioxidant-rich blueberries may even help your body process glucose more efficiently. Plus, they’re full of fiber, which helps prevent pregnancy constipation. Shoot for a half cup of blueberries and 14 walnut halves for the ideal snack.
Low-Carb Pregnancy Snack #3: Roasted Edamame
Edamame, or soybeans, are a quick, easy, and very satisfying pregnancy snack. Simply buy a bag of unshelled edamame in the frozen section of your local grocery store, thaw, then toss it in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Next, put your edamame in a single-layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. The result? A crunchy and tasty low-carb snack bursting with essential pregnancy nutrients. A half cup of roasted edamame offers 9 grams of blood-sugar balancing protein, 4 grams of filling fiber…and all for as little as 6 grams of carbs!
Low-Carb Pregnancy Snack #4: Hard Boiled Eggs
Eggs deliver about 6 grams of protein a pop and they naturally contain very little to no carbs, making them a filling snack that can ward off hunger between meals. And, since hard boiled eggs are also rich in vitamin D, they’re an ideal snack for blood sugar control. Research has shown that low levels of vitamin D could increase a person’s risk of gestational diabetes—and that consuming vitamin D during pregnancy could help. Plus, eggs are a good source of iron, an essential mineral to support healthy blood flow—super-important during pregnancy.
Low-Carb Pregnancy Snack #5: Icelandic yogurt
You know how Icelandic yogurt is so thick and creamy? It’s like that because some of the whey is taken away during preparation. Another bonus to less whey: Fewer carbohydrates, making it a good pick for a gestational diabetes-friendly food. Protein-rich Icelandic yogurt (15 grams per serving) also has less lactose than regular yogurt, which can make it easier to digest. (Good news for those with morning sickness.) And with 17 grams of calcium per serving, it’s a superb way to nourish your baby’s bones, teeth, and muscles. To make sure you’re getting the very best yogurt, stick with plain, since added ingredients can up the carb count.
Low-Carb Pregnancy Snack #6: Rice Cake with Avocado and Salsa
Avocados are a nutritional powerhouse, brimming with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, potassium, folate, and choline. Plus, they’re a very low-sugar fruit that contains protein, making it an ideal snack for blood sugar control. Simply top a lightly-salted rice cake (7 grams of carbs) with sliced avocado (12 grams of carbs) and a dollop of salsa for an extra burst of flavor without overloading calories.
Low-Carb Pregnancy Snack #7: Cottage cheese
The blood sugar-lowering effects of cottage cheese come from its high protein content, according to a review of studies. Just a half-cup serving of cottage cheese contains 12 grams of protein and a mere 5 grams of carbs. Try pairing your cottage cheese with an apricot. One fiber- and vitamin A- and C-rich fruit has just 4 grams of carbohydrates.
Low-Carb Pregnancy Snack #8: Bell Peppers and Hummus
Bell peppers are loaded with vitamin C, an inflammation-fighting antioxidant crucial for stabilizing blood sugar. When you cut red bell peppers into dippable sticks and pair them with hummus, you’ll reap even more blood sugar benefits thanks to the added protein and fiber. Bonus: Hummus contains iron, which is better absorbed when eaten with vitamin C-rich foods, which makes bell pepper and hummus a match made to help gestational diabetes.
Low-Carb Pregnancy Snack #9: Apples and Almond Butter
The sweet taste and crunchy texture of an apple are sure to satisfy any expectant mom’s burgeoning appetite! One medium apple is loaded with about 5 grams of fiber, which is great since multiple studies have determined that dietary fiber helps slow the absorption of sugars in the body, which can help prevent spikes in sugar and insulin. And when you pair an apple with a healthy fat or protein—like almond butter—you can also lessen your chances of a blood sugar spike. Add a 2-tablespoon smear of naturally low-carb almond butter to your apple and you’ll get 6 grams of filling protein, too.
Low-Carb Pregnancy Snack #10: Veggie Egg Cups
Chop up nutrition-packed heavy-hitters like tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, and/or peppers. Give them a quick sauté to soften then toss them in the wells of a sprayed muffin tin. Next, combine eggs, milk, and your choice of spices and pour into your prepared muffin tin. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit between 20 and 22 minutes for a low-carb snack filled with protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Add cheese for a calcium boost or nutritional yeast for a hit of B-vitamins. Hot tip: Make enough to freeze for a quick microwavable snack to keep pregnancy hanger at a distance.
Low-Carb Pregnancy Snack #11: Pistachios
Satisfy your need for some crunch with low-carb pistachios. They’re filled with various nutritional benefits like fiber, protein, healthy fats, potassium, vitamin K, and antioxidants. On top of that, a 2019 study found that eating 1.5 ounces pistachios (which is about 49 kernels) significantly lowered blood sugar levels in pregnant women with poor blood sugar control and gestational diabetes.
Low-Carb Pregnancy Snack #12: Peanut Butter Banana Roll-Up
For this gestational diabetes-friendly snack, spread no-sugar-added peanut butter onto a 6-inch 100% whole grain tortilla; add a half-banana, sliced lengthwise; and roll it up. Not only do whole grains help with blood sugar control, but high-potassium bananas can prevent potassium deficiency. That’s important because low potassium is linked to insulin resistance, a gestational diabetes condition that makes blood sugar control a challenge. (It’s true that bananas tend to be high in carbs, but eaten in smaller portions can be just fine.)
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.