Figuring out the best foods to eat when you are pregnant and have diabetes can be overwhelming.
The main goals are to keep blood sugar levels well-controlled, nourish yourself and your baby, and to eat foods that help prevent complications from diabetes like heart disease, stroke, and pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. Including these foods in the Brewer Pregnancy Diet can help you have a healthy pregnancy and better control your diabetes.
Both white balsamic vinegar and apple cider vinegar (ACV) slow gastric emptying which helps to slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream. Vinegar has also been shown to decreases hunger.
People who have 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed improve their fasting blood sugar and help to negate the dawn phenomenon.
- Enjoy a salad with vinaigrette
- Pulled pork fajitas
- Flank steak with caramelized onions
- Dress roasted vegetables with white balsamic vinegar
- Mix 1 tsp – 2 tbsp of ACV in a glass of water
2. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are the edible seeds of Salvia hispanica, a flowering plant in the mint family native to Central America. They provide fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds are great because they lower the glycemic load of any meal, keep you full longer, and help to stabilize bloods sugar.
Turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, can lower inflammation and blood sugar levels, while reducing your risk of heart disease. ” Overall, scientific literature shows that curcumin possesses anti-diabetic effects and reduces diabetes complications.” (Source). Curcumin also appears to benefit kidney health in diabetics.
Always consume turmeric with black pepper in order to absorb the curcumin, as it is not absorbed well by itself.
4. Wild salmon
Salmon is a great source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Wild salmon eat smaller fish and live in colder waters, which causes them to develop a higher ratio of anti-inflammatory omega-3s to saturated fats. Wild salmon is high in minerals, including potassium, zinc, and iron.
The FDA and EPA both recommend that pregnant women eat at least 8 ounces and up to 12 ounces (340 grams) of a variety of seafood lower in mercury per week. Make sure it is organic and/or wild fish as farmed fish contains more toxins and pollutants.
5. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt has been shown to improve blood sugar control and reduce heart disease risk and is great for gut health. It also contains only ~6 g carbs per serving, and is high in protein which helps to reduce your appetite and decreases calorie intake.
Cinnamon lowers blood sugars in people with diabetes. It has been well-researched and found to be beneficial at doses of about 1 teaspoon/day. Cinnamon helps to lower both fasting and after meal blood sugars. Cinnamon CANNOT cure diabetes.
- Cinnamon on oatmeal
- Add cinnamon to coffee
- Sweet Corn Cinnamon Soup
- Oven fried southern style cinnamon honey chicken
Studies in people with diabetes have found that broccoli may help lower insulin resistance and is good source of antioxidants that help prevent eye disease.
- Grilled beef with broccoli
- Chicken and broccoli stir fry
- Sheet pan chicken meatballs and charred broccoli
- Roasted broccoli and tofu with creamy miso dressing
Lentils are great because they contain vitamins and minerals, protein, iron, folate, and have a lot of fiber.
- Green and brown lentils are great in salads
- Orange lentils are perfect for Indian soups and curries
- Black Lentil and Harissa-Roasted Veggie Bowl
- Coconut-Apple-Ginger Dal
9. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Extra-virgin olive oil contains oleic acid, a type of fat that has been shown to improve triglycerides and HDL cholesterol, reduces inflammation, and may reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease.
- Lemon roast chicken
- Skillet baked eggs with blistered cherry tomatoes
- Cook with olive oil
- Coconut vegetable curry with cashews
10. Leafy Greens
Leafy green vegetables are extremely nutritious and low in calories and carbohydrates. Spinach, kale and other leafy greens are good sources of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and folate, and antioxidants, which help protect your eyes from macular degeneration and cataracts.
In one study, increasing vitamin C intake to 500 mg twice a day reduced inflammation and fasting blood sugar levels for people with diabetes.
- Sautéed Greens with White Beans and Garlic
- Sausage with mustard greens and peppers
- Collard Greens Braised in Coconut Milk
- Spinach, hummus, and bell pepper wraps
Like most vegetables, squash contains antioxidants which protect against cataracts and macular degeneration. Animal studies using squash extract have shown reductions in obesity and blood sugar levels.
Winter squash is higher in carbs than summer squash:
- 1 cup pumpkin: 8 g
- 1 cup zucchini: 3.5 g
- Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole
- Chicken Alfredo Spaghetti Squash
- Low-Carb Easy Cheesy Zucchini Bake
- 5-Ingredient Chicken Zucchini Boats
Eggs are like a super food. They are one of the best foods for keeping you full for hours! Regular egg consumption can reduce your risk of heart disease. Eggs decrease inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity. One study found that in people with diabetes who are “on a moderate carbohydrate background diet, accompanied by weight loss, the inclusion of whole eggs improves inflammation to a greater extent than yolk-free egg substitute”.
In one study, people with type 2 diabetes who ate 2 eggs per day as part of a high-protein diet lowered their cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Eggs are one of the best sources antioxidants that protect the eyes from disease.
The benefits of eggs are from the nutrients found in the egg yolk, so be sure to eat the whole egg.
- Mexican baked eggs
- Sweet potato hash with sausage and eggs
- Egg and avocado salad on toast
- Caramelized Onion Frittata
Flaxseed has been shown to lower your risk of heart disease, lower the risk of strokes, and improve insulin sensitivity. Current evidence suggests that a dose of at least 500 mg for approximately 8 weeks is needed to observe positive effects on cardiovascular risk factors. Flaxseed is safe for most people, however animal studies suggest that pregnant women should limit their exposure. (Source)
Nuts taste great and great for you, unless you are allergic, of course. Nuts contain fiber, may reduce inflammation, may lower blood sugar and cholesterol, and are relatively low-carb. Here are the amounts of carbs per a 3 oz (100-gram) serving :
- Almonds: 9 g
- Brazil nuts: 12 g
- Macadamia: 14 g
- Pecans: 14 g
- Walnuts: 14 g
- Peanuts: 16 g
- Hazelnuts: 17 g
- Pistachios: 28 g
- Cashews: 30 g
Strawberries are high in antioxidants known as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins have been shown to reduce cholesterol, postprandial levels, have anti-inflammatory properties, and decrease your risk of heart disease.
- Add to salads
- Instant Pot Cheesecake with Strawberries
- Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bon Bons
- Low Carb Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
Several studies have shown garlic can reduce inflammation, blood sugar, LDL cholesterol, and blood pressure.
In one study, people with high blood pressure who ate garlic for 12 weeks averaged a 10-point decrease in blood pressure.
- Chicken and garlic with fresh herbs
- Garlic chicken and broccoli
- Garlic grilled steak
- Creamy roasted garlic and spinach orzo
Which foods should be avoided for people with diabetes?
People with diabetes should avoid many of the same unhealthy foods as everyone else.
Sodas: both regular soda and diet soda raise blood sugars
Refined Sugars: donuts, pastries, cakes, cookies, scones, sweets, candy
Processed Carbs: white bread, pasta, chips, saltines
Trans Fats: anything with the word hydrogenated on the label, salad dressings, packaged sauces, baked goods, etc
High Fructose Corn Syrup: soda, candy, ketchup, packaged convenience food
Artificial Sweeteners: foods labeled “diet”
Highly Processed Foods: sweets, candy, chips, cookies, etc.