Gestational Diabetes Breakfast Ideas

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It can be a challenge to know what to eat when you are first diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Sometimes it can take a few days after you find out about your oral glucose tolerance test results (aka OGTT) to be seen by your doctor or diabetes educator. So if you’re wondering what gestational diabetes is, how to treat it, and what to eat to help manage your blood sugars, starting with breakfast, read on. 

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is diabetes that happens during the second half of pregnancy for women who didn’t have diabetes before they got pregnant. It occurs in 2%-10% of pregnancies in the US each year

Gestational diabetes happens because the placenta makes it harder for the body to use insulin, a hormone that helps the body’s cells use sugar for energy. After week 24 of pregnancy, insulin resistance starts to rise, which can cause gestational diabetes in some women. 

How to treat gestational diabetes

Lifestyle changes, tracking blood sugars, and potentially using medications are all ways to treat gestational diabetes. Lifestyle changes include adjusting your diet and increasing your activity level. One change you might make to your diet could include counting carbohydrates. 

How carbohydrates affect blood sugar

Carbohydrates (carbs) are the main food source that breaks down into sugar, called glucose, in the body. Glucose can raise your blood sugar, but it is also the body’s main and preferred source of energy for the body. So, while you might be reducing how many carbs you eat, you also don’t want to completely cut carbs out of your diet. 

We also get some glucose from the liver, an organ in your body. When we go a long time without eating, especially overnight or if you skip meals, the liver releases some stored glucose into the body. This helps prevent low blood sugars. Eating consistently helps the liver to not release too much glucose between meals and overnight. 

Eating breakfast signals the liver that it does not need to release any more glucose. However, the recommended amount of carbohydrates at breakfast is usually a little less than what is recommended for lunch and supper because your blood sugar might already be a little higher, and because the body is more insulin resistant at the beginning of the day

How many grams of carbohydrates should I eat at breakfast?

It is often recommended to eat around 30 grams of carbohydrates for breakfast. You should also include protein, fat, and fiber with your carbohydrates. 

Carbohydrate foods include bread, rice, pasta, yogurt, fruit, milk, and oats. It’s best to try to incorporate carbohydrates that contain fiber like beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.. Proteins include eggs, cheese, meats, fish, and nuts. Butter, oils, nuts, cheese, avocado, meats, and fish have fat. 

Best Breakfast Ideas for Gestational Diabetes

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with meal planning when you have to keep track of nutrients and pair different food groups together. Here are seven breakfast ideas that have about 30 grams of carbohydrate and include protein, fat, and fiber to help you keep blood sugars in range.

  • 2 pieces of whole wheat toast with butter, 2 scrambled eggs with shredded cheddar cheese
  • Yogurt parfait made with 1 cup plain whole milk greek yogurt, 2 tsp honey, ½ cup frozen blueberries, ¼ cup chopped pecans, 1 tsp ground flaxseed (optional), quick squirt of whipped topping
  • Egg omelet made with 2-3 eggs, splash of milk, diced onions, broccoli, mushrooms, and cheddar cheese, 1 piece whole wheat toast with butter, 1 cup strawberries
  • Smoothie made with ½ banana, 2 tbsp peanut butter, 1 cup whole milk yogurt, 1 tsp honey, ¼ tsp cinnamon, 1-2 tsp ground flaxseed, 1 cup ice, splash milk
  • 2 pieces whole wheat toast topped with peanut butter, ½ cup blueberries, and ¼ cup chopped pecans
  • Breakfast burrito made with 1 medium whole wheat tortilla, 2 scrambled eggs, 2 tbsp salsa, and 2 tbsp cheddar cheese
  • Breakfast sandwich made with 1 whole wheat english muffin, toasted and buttered, 1 whole fried egg, 1 slice cheddar cheese, 2 slices red bell pepper, and swirl of sriracha sauce

Best Quick Breakfast Ideas

Are you always on-the-go? Or, maybe not a morning person who will make and eat breakfast at home? Here are four quick ideas that can be made with little effort or can be picked up on your morning commute. 

  • 1 whole wheat english muffin with peanut butter
  • “Egg in a mug”: in a coffee mug, crack 2 eggs, add shredded cheese and a splash of milk, microwave for 60 seconds, take out and stir, microwave another 30-60 seconds, top with salsa (optional) or salt and pepper. Eat with a banana or 2 pieces of buttered toast.
  • 1 Kind Bar (dark chocolate nuts & sea salt), 1 Chobani yogurt blended drink
  • Egg McMuffin from McDonalds (skip the juice and hashbrowns)

Recap

Remember, breakfast is usually the smallest meal of the day for women with gestational diabetes, so don’t worry if these portions seem like they won’t be enough. Usually the recommended amount of carbs with lunch and supper is around 60 grams for each. And you can include snacks between meals, if needed. 

In the article, you learned about what gestational diabetes is, how carbohydrates affect blood sugars, and you got some perfect breakfast ideas to help control your numbers. These meals should also help you feel energized and ready for the day, which is always a plus when you’re carrying a little one. For more food ideas that work for people with insulin resistance, check out this meal plan.

Talk to your doctor or diabetes educator for more specific recommendations based on your needs.

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This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for medical treatment or diagnosis. You should consult with your doctor before changing your diet or starting supplements for any health condition.

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