Last Updated on January 17, 2024 by Kari Garner, MS RDN LD CDCES
What can you eat for dessert with gestational diabetes?
This is a great question that I am going to answer because whether you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, type 1, prediabetes or type 2, dessert is always an option!
When we think of dessert, we typically think creamy cheesecakes, gooey caramel or decadent chocolate filled treats. However, dessert to others can be a bowl of fresh cut fruit or a piece of dark chocolate.
This blog is all about how to navigate desserts for gestational diabetes regardless of your cravings! Instead of focusing on eliminating desserts, I am here to teach you how to choose healthy desserts for pregnancy.
Plus, I feature 20+ delicious gestational diabetes desserts created by nutrition experts.
Let’s get started!
What Is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a condition that can develop in women during pregnancy who do not already have diabetes.
It is when your body cannot make enough insulin during pregnancy, resulting in a state of chronic high blood sugars that can be harmful to both the mother and child.
GDM is often a symptom of underlying β-cell dysfunction, which is why you will see the increased risk of the mother and child developing diabetes later in life.
B-cells or beta cells are cells located in the pancreas that are responsible for the storage, production and release of insulin.
If you have gestational diabetes, your baby is at a higher risk of being very large at birth, being born early, having low blood sugar, and ultimately developing type 2 diabetes down the road.
However, by monitoring food choices, amounts consumed and timing of meals you can nourish both yourself and your baby while successfully managing blood sugars!
Gestational Diabetes Diet
The American Diabetes Association recommends that pregnant women consume a minimum of 175 grams of carbohydrates, 71 grams of protein and 28 grams of fiber per day.
The distribution of these nutrients across meals should be personalized to you by working with your diabetes care team. Nutrition needs change throughout pregnancy so guidance from your team is essential.
Consider booking a Diabetes Education Session if you want to craft a personalized meal plan that you can use throughout your pregnancy (and beyond!)
How to Eat Dessert with Diabetes
The balance of protein, fat and fiber along with mindful carbohydrate intake is the goal when eating a gestational diabetes dessert.
These nutrients can be combined with the dessert such as fresh pineapple (fiber!) drizzled with dark chocolate (fat!) and topped with pecans or almonds (protein and fat!).
The other option would be to pair dessert alongside a balanced meal. For example, after enjoying lunch or dinner, have your dessert of choice. The protein, fat and fiber from the balanced meal can help to prevent blood sugar spikes.
Healthy Dessert Ideas
Gestational diabetes requires management of dietary choices, including meals, snacks and desserts. Finding suitable yet delicious dessert ideas can help keep blood sugars balanced while still satisfying sweet cravings.
Opting for desserts with a low glycemic index is key as these are likely to have a minimal impact on blood sugar. Here are a few ideas to consider to curb a sweet tooth:
- Greek yogurt and berries: Combine fresh berries like strawberries, blueberries or raspberries with a dollop of unsweetened Greek yogurt.
- Dark chocolate covered nuts: Melt dark chocolate with a high cocoa content then coat nuts like almonds or walnuts. Popcorn is another alternative that is delicious drizzled with dark chocolate.
- Baked apple: Core and bake an apple with a sprinkle of cinnamon. If desired, serve with Greek yogurt for a boost of flavor and protein.
- Avocado chocolate mousse: Blend a ripe avocado with cocoa powder and a splash of milk for a rich and creamy chocolate mousse. Dip apple slices into the mousse for a balanced dessert.
- Nut butter and fruit: Slice fruit such as apples, bananas or pears then dip into nut butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon or allspice for more flavor.
Now, you may be wondering about desserts that don’t fit into these categories. For example, how to navigate desserts for celebrations such as cake at a baby shower.
For these situations, it is important to focus on portion control and following the tips below to maintain overall stable blood sugars.
More Expert Tips
- Portion Control: Opt for smaller portions of desserts that are higher in carbohydrates such as cakes, pies and cookies made with regular flour and sugar.
- Read Labels: Read the nutrition and ingredient label of the dessert to be mindful of added sugars. If possible, choose desserts with a lower amount of added sugars.
- Meal Timing: Avoid consuming desserts on an empty stomach as this can lead a larger spike to blood sugars. Instead, pair with a meal or combine with a protein and healthy fat such as nuts, seeds or Greek yogurt.
- Get Moving: Physical activity such as a short walk after dessert can help regulate blood sugar levels. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity meaning that the body can use insulin more effectively.
Dessert Recipes for Gestational Diabetes
I love collaborating with fellow dietitians to bring you all a wide variety of recipes.
Aim to try each of these healthy desserts for pregnancy featuring nutrient-rich ingredients. Each one includes fiber, protein and fat or can easily be paired with the missing nutrient for a balanced option with blood sugar benefits.
Gestational Diabetes Desserts
- How To Make Date Snickers, Kathryn Piper, RDN, LD, NBC-HWC
- Spiced Walnuts With Brown Sugar, Monica Nedeff, RDN
- Healthy Carrot Cake,
- Chai Yogurt Fruit Dip, Laurel Ann, MS, RD, LDN, CDE
- Cherry Galette with Olive Oil Crust, Laura Yautz, RDN
- One-Bowl Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Banana Bread (High Fiber), Jackie Silver, MHSc, RD
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Dessert Bars, Laura Yautz, RDN
- Healthy 2 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies, Ashley Petrie, RDN, LDN
- Balsamic Macerated Strawberries and Cream, Cara Harbstreet, MS RD LD
- Chocolate Mocha Nice Cream, Melissa Traub, MS, RDN, LDN
- Slow Cooker Apple Crisp, Melissa Traub, MS, RDN, LDN
- Apple Strawberry Crisp – Christina Iaboni, Christina Iaboni, RD
- No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars (Vegan), Jackie Silver, MHSc, RD
- Chocolate Coconut Cream Dessert, Sarah Schlichter, RD, MPH
- Vegan Edible Cookie Dough (Gluten Free), Sarah Schlichter, RD, MPH
- Power Brownies, Moushumi Mukherjee, MS, RDN
- Low Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites,
- Nutritious Chocolate Chip Cookie Spread, Colleen Woods, MS, RDN, CLC
- Strawberry Banana Nice Cream, Summer Yule, MS, RDN
- Double Chocolate Cranberry Cookies, Jackie Silver, MHSc, RD
- No Sugar No Flour Cookies Recipe, Summer Yule, MS, RDN
If you are ready to take the leap and transform your health, check out my Resources Page. I can help you grow & flourish with diabetes!
Springtime Nutrition, LLC was founded on my passion to partner with individuals to eliminate the stress, frustration and overwhelm of changing their nutrition lifestyle. I am committed to supporting you at every step of your journey. Ready to transform your life? Get started today!
Kari is a diabetes expert with more than 18 years of experience. Kari currently works as a diabetes educator with a large hospital system in Charleston, SC and is committed to improving the lives of people with any type of diabetes.