Easy-to-prepare, well-balanced lunch ideas for gestational diabetes keep your energy levels high, help you meet nutrient needs, and balance your blood sugar levels.
Eating lunch every day as part of your regular meal pattern is the mainstay of blood sugar control with gestational diabetes. Additionally, well-balanced meals, made up of a variety of foods, provide you with:
- Consistent energy
- Fewer fluctuations in blood sugar
- More awareness of what is working (or not) to help you stay in range.
Eating regularly also allows you to meet key nutrients in the second and third trimesters, like choline and iodine. These two nutrients play roles in metabolic, neurodevelopment and thyroid function, to name a few.
Lastly, skipping your mid-day meal can also lead to high blood sugar levels with gestational diabetes. Regular meals with a variety of foods can:
- Prevent high post-meal blood sugars
- Mindless snacking throughout the afternoon and evening
- Support stable fasting blood sugar levels.
Lunch Ideas for Gestational Diabetes
Shift your focus from exact measurements to consistently building balanced lunches for gestational diabetes using our easy framework. When you make lunch, add the following for better blood sugar control and satisfaction.
To learn about building a well-balanced meal, read more about our framework below.
You deserve to enjoy what you’re eating. Try one of these ideas for your next lunch.
- Quinoa Salad: Mix cooked quinoa with your favourite beans or legumes, add colourful vegetables, and top with your favourite dressing. Top with extra protein for increased satisfaction and nutrients.
- Tuna or Salmon Sandwich: Choose high-fibre bread (a favourite is Stonemill), top with your choice of fish and mayo, and add lettuce and onion. Pair with a side of cucumbers and nuts.
- Smoothie: Build a protein-packed smoothie with cow’s milk or soy milk base, your favourite protein powder, spinach or cauliflower, mixed berries and a pinch of cinnamon.
- Snack Plate: Pair hard-boiled eggs, cut-up peppers and snap peas, nuts and seeds with cheese and whole-grain crackers on a plate.
- Harvest Salad: Take your pre-washed lettuce or greens and add in shredded carrots, leftover roasted vegetables, avocado, and edamame and top with your favourite dressing.
- Yogurt Bowl: Combine your favourite berries, unflavoured greek yogurt, a spoonful of hemp hearts, chia seeds and ground flax, and sprinkle pumpkin seeds and cinnamon to garnish.
- Rice Bowl: Choose rice or a grain of your choice, and add in cooked broccoli, carrots, chicken, and beans. Top with sesame seeds, avocado slices and soy sauce.
- Pita/ Wrap: Take leftover protein and salad from dinner, roll it up in a small whole-grain pita and pair it with cut-up vegetables.
- Lettuce Wraps: Fill lettuce leaves with your favourite seafood or ground meat, top with colourful vegetables and pair with cheese and berries.
- Tofu dish: Mix cooked tofu, snow peas, edamame, broccoli and your favourite grain for a tasty dish.
- Open-faced Fried Egg Sandwich: Top toasted whole grain bread with avocados, tomatoes, fried eggs and a pinch of iodized salt. Add a side of cut-up peppers for colour and crunch.
- Leftovers: the easiest type of lunch!
Be kind to yourself. Get curious about how meals impact your blood sugar. Shift away from judgment and lean into learning about your body’s needs. Gestational diabetes is not your fault.
Gestational Diabetes Meal Plan Tips
Carbohydrates: These foods are a rich source of energy, B vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. They get a bad reputation because they cause blood sugar spikes.
Focus on carbohydrate-rich foods that are high in fibre. Eating these foods can reduce blood sugar spikes and the likelihood of needing insulin during pregnancy. High-fibre foods take longer for your body to break down, which helps sugar levels stay stable, keeps you full longer and helps to manage unwanted constipation. Some examples are:
- Brightly coloured vegetables
- Whole grain bread and pasta
Aim for 28g of fibre each day.
Spread your carbohydrate intake evenly throughout your meals and focus on high-fibre foods most often.
Protein: Protein-rich foods have less impact on your blood sugar and provide the building blocks (amino acids) for parents and babies to grow and thrive. They include essential nutrients for better health outcomes in pregnancy and keep you full longer. Many pregnant people do not meet their protein needs during pregnancy (and you may need more than initially thought.)
Some examples are:
- Beans and legumes
Include a variety of protein sources at meals (and snacks), especially eggs and fish.
Fat: Fat sources bring flavour to meals, help absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K, and provide energy and minerals. Fat sources have little to no impact on your blood sugar and pair well with carbohydrates and protein. Some examples are:
Switch-up different fat sources for more minerals and flavour.
Fluids: Your fluid needs increase during pregnancy. To quench your thirst, focus on drinking water or low-sugar drink options to stay hydrated and prevent spikes in blood sugar.
Sweets and Treats: Desserts and other fun foods can be a part of your lunch meal as they offer a mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Create space on your plate for foods that bring you joy and avoid complete restriction. Incorporate these foods with your lunch meal to reduce loss of control eating in the evenings and rebound high blood sugars the next morning.
Put it all together with these five steps.
- Aim for at least two different colourful servings (ex, handfuls) of non-starchy vegetables that fill ½ of your plate.
- Add a high-fibre carbohydrate or starch source on ¼ of your plate.
- Round off the plate with a protein source.
- Add flavour by including your favourite fat sources, sprinkling on herbs and spices, or drizzling a tasty dressing.
- Enjoy a serving of dessert of choice alongside your lunch.
Need more ideas? Stonehouse Nutrition Can Help
Download our favourite Not So Fancy Snack Guide and feel confident about nourishing your body and managing your blood sugar. You’ll find 65 snack ideas, all three ingredients and almost no prep.