Managing Gestational Diabetes + useful recipe ideas

Managing Gestational Diabetes + useful recipe ideas

Managing Gestational Diabetes + Useful Recipe Ideas

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which the body’s blood glucose levels are not being maintained at a low enough level to be in a healthy range. Gestational Diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs in many women during their pregnancy and this can negatively impact the unborn baby, as well as the mother, so it is extremely important that Gestational Diabetes is well managed.

During your pregnancy you will be checked for Gestational Diabetes sometime around week 24 to 28, but if before then you experience symptoms of increased thirst, excessive urination or thrush, this could indicate that you might have Gestational Diabetes and you may ask for early testing to be done. Gestational Diabetes usually does not continue on after pregnancy, however, if you have had Gestational Diabetes, you have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life, but there are diet and lifestyle factors which can reduce this risk.

How common is Gestational Diabetes in Australia?

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the incidence of Gestational Diabetes has more than doubled in the last decade from approximately 6 per cent of pregnant women in 2011-12 to almost 18 per cent in 2021-22. Some of the factors cited that explain this trend are the increased age of women falling pregnant, higher rates of maternal overweight and obesity, and a growing proportion of ethnic groups in the population who are at higher risk of developing Gestational Diabetes.


What happens when you have Gestational Diabetes?

When you consume carbohydrates, your body breaks it down to glucose (blood sugar) which is the main source of energy for your body. Glucose may be used immediately by your body, or stored in cells for later use. So, how does glucose in your blood get moved into your cells for it to be used later? The answer is insulin, which is a very important hormone produced by your body that enables the uptake of glucose into the cells of your body. During pregnancy and as baby continues to grow, the mother’s insulin requirements are significantly increased. If the mother is unable to produce enough insulin or if she becomes insulin resistant because her insulin is unable to work properly to keep her blood glucose levels at a healthy level, she will be diagnosed as having Gestational Diabetes. 

How is Gestational Diabetes managed?

Gestational Diabetes is managed mainly through diet and exercise, but in some cases, you may need to be prescribed medications. You may be referred to a dietitian or diabetic nurse educator who is specifically trained in teaching and supporting women with how to manage Gestational Diabetes. This is important to give the best health outcomes for you and your baby. To manage Gestational Diabetes, your carbohydrate intake must be monitored and managed throughout each day.

To help manage your carbohydrate intake, carbohydrate amounts in foods are measured in “exchanges” so you do not need to calculate exactly how many grams of carbohydrate are in each type of food. One carbohydrate exchange is equivalent to approximately 15 grams of carbohydrate. For example, one slice of bread may weigh 40 grams, but it contains approximately 15 grams of carbohydrate (which is one exchange). Your dietitian or diabetic nurse educator can provide you with an extensive list of foods and their carbohydrate exchange values. In addition, you may wish to use a carb counting program, such as that found on the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) website.

Diabetes Australia recommends eating some carbohydrate at each meal and with each snack to spread your carbohydrate intake over the day. This will assist in maintaining blood glucose levels within a healthy range throughout the day.

How can using Optivance help manage Gestational Diabetes?

One serve of Optivance Mummy Smoothie for Pre-conception and Pregnancy (i.e. one sachet) contains a total of 12.8g of carbohydrate which is approximately one carbohydrate exchange. The Optivance Mummy Smoothie can therefore form an important part of your Gestational Diabetes meal plan. Further, the 12.8g of carbohydrate contains 11.7g of lactose (the ‘sugar’ of natural milk) and there is no added sugar in any Optivance product. Please be aware of added sugars which should be limited if you have Gestational Diabetes. The Ingredients and Nutrition Information on product packaging is where you can find this information.


What about Glycemic Index in Gestational Diabetes?

Glycemic index (GI) ranks foods and drinks according to the rate at which they raise glucose levels in the blood. A food or drink with a higher GI means it will cause a faster rise in blood glucose levels, whereas foods or drinks with a lower GI means they will raise glucose levels more slowly. A fast rise, or spike in blood glucose requires a lot more insulin to bring it back to a healthy level and this is a problem with someone who has Gestational Diabetes as their insulin does not work as effectively. Therefore, including low GI foods in your diet can better help you maintain steady blood glucose levels. In addition, consuming low GI foods may also help you manage your weight in a healthy range.

Milk has a low Glycemic Index. The Optivance Mummy Smoothie for Pre-conception and Pregnancy is milk powder based with no added sugar and can be categorized as being a low GI nutritional supplement. This means that the Optivance Mummy Smoothie is absorbed more slowly into your body, which is recommended in Gestational Diabetes, to avoid spikes in blood glucose levels. It is important to manage spikes in blood glucose levels as these may damage the health of you and your baby.


Using Optivance recipes in your Gestational Diabetes meal plan

The Optivance Mummy Smoothie for Pre-conception and Pregnancy can be an excellent part of a Gestational Diabetes meal plan by providing essential nutrition with a low GI and only 1 carbohydrate exchange per serve/sachet to support the health and both you and your bub.

As an example, if your dietitian or diabetes educator has recommended 3 exchanges of carbohydrate for breakfast and 1-2 exchanges for a snack, you can certainly incorporate the Optivance Mummy Smoothie for Pre-conception and Pregnancy into this regime.

Below are some Optivance recipes which you may like to try as part of your Gestational Diabetes meal plan. These recipes give you the quantity (g) of carbohydrate for each ingredient as well as per recipe. We have also provided a list of ingredient options to easily allow you to change ingredients between recipes as desired.

The options below give examples of approximately ONE CARBOHYDRATE EXCHANGE (15g of carbohydrate) and are calculated from The Traffic Light Guide to Food Carbohydrate Counter, Diabetes Education Centre, Royal North Shore Hospital.

  • 1 cup (250mL) of full cream cow’s milk
  • 1 cup (250mL) of coconut milk
  • 1 cup (250mL) of oat milk
  • 200g natural/Greek yoghurt (unsweetened)
  • 100g sweetened yoghurt
  • 1 tablespoon of cacao
  • ¼ cup raw rolled oats
  • ½ large banana (100g)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 ¼ cup mixed frozen berries
  • ¾ cup mango pieces (approx. 150g)

Choose any one ingredient from the list above and add 1 sachet of Optivance Mummy Smoothie for Pre-conception and Pregnancy with 250mL of water to achieve a TWO CARBOHYDRATE EXCHANGE recipe.

Choose any two ingredients from the list above and add 1 sachet of Optivance Mummy Smoothie for Pre-conception and Pregnancy with 250mL of water to achieve a THREE CARBOHYDRATE EXCHANGE recipe.

A few extra Gestational Diabetes recipe options are provided below.


Low Carb Berry Smoothie


 Carbohydrate (g)

½ cup strawberries or raspberries (75g)


2 tablespoons thick cream (40mL)


250mL cold water


1 x Optivance Mummy Smoothie





Muesli and Yoghurt Smoothie


 Carbohydrate (g)

1 tablespoon psyllium husks (*)


¼ cup raw rolled oats


1 pitted date


200 g yoghurt (Greek or natural)


150mL cold water


1x Optivance Mummy Smoothie




(*) Good source of fiber


Summary and conclusions

Gestational Diabetes occurs in almost one in six women in Australia during their pregnancy. If not managed properly it can adversely affect the unborn baby, as well as the mother. The best way to manage Gestational Diabetes is through diet and exercise. It is important to manage your blood sugar levels during pregnancy in a healthy range. To do this it is necessary to know how much carbohydrate you are consuming by using a carbohydrate exchange counter and to eat low Glycemic Index (GI) foods. The Optivance Mummy Smoothie for Pre-conception and Pregnancy is a low GI nutritional supplement that contains approximately one (1) carbohydrate exchange and therefore it can form an important part of your Gestational Diabetes meal plan.


I get so hungry trying to manage Gestational Diabetes. What can I do?

It is important that you keep your blood sugar levels at a safe level to manage Gestational Diabetes during pregnancy. Often, by doing this, women do not eat properly and are left feeling constantly hungry. Here are a few tips to help beat those hunger pains.

  • Consume more low Glycemic Index (GI) foods.
  • Avoid high GI foods to avoid peaks and crashes in your blood glucose levels.
  • Have nutrient dense foods packed with vitamins and minerals.
  • Eat protein and good fats and oils to make you feel full for longer.

The Optivance Mummy Smoothie for Pre-conception and Pregnancy is an excellent low carbohydrate, low GI nutritional supplement with 15g of high-quality protein and Omega-3 Fatty Acids (DHA). It is an alternative to other pregnancy and pre-conception supplements and also has 20 vitamins and minerals including 100% of the recommended amounts of folate (in the bioavailable form), iodine, B vitamins, Vitamin D, probiotics and collagen. Blend it up as suggested in our recipes and you have a nutritious and delicious meal ready to go.