Craving bread and pasta? 4 gestational diabetes meal plan ideas with low-carb substitutes!

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I may have mentioned before that I am a recovering carbaholic. As in, I love my carbs. A LOT. I have always been obsessed with bread, pasta, cake, cereal, juice, candy. Probably my all-time favorite carbs are Oreos and donuts. You can imagine what a rude awakening I had when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes for the first time!

Fortunately, with low-carb diets being so popular now, there is a lot of information out there about foods you can substitute. Here are a few suggestions.

Again, I AM NOT a medical professional (see professional disclaimer above!). Your carbohydrate and calorie needs will vary according to your situation. Work with your dietitian and doctor to determine how many carbohydrates you should be eating per day. That being said, here are some ideas for low-carb swaps that worked for me when I had gestational diabetes. These foods helped me keep my blood sugar steady, while helping me kick the cravings for a particular high-carb food. I hope they help you!

1. Bread

According to Verywellfit, the average slice of wheat bread has 13.8g of carbohydrates per slice. Depending on your carbohydrate needs, and the other foods you plan to eat that day, you may want to plan to eat small amounts of wheat bread (when I was pregnant, I could usually eat half a slice of wheat bread without spiking my blood sugar). But what about when you’re craving white bread, or pastries, or donuts? What if you’ve exceeded the amount of carbs you need/want to eat in the day and still want some bread?

Substitution suggestions

One way I kick the bread craving is by eating low-carb bread! This is one of my favorite low-carb bread recipes. I love Wholesome Yum! Great recipes! My husband and I like to make this recipe and add a little bit of maple flavoring to the mix.

If you’re craving a sandwich, try using some leaves of romaine lettuce to wrap the ingredients in. My hubby LOVES Jimmy John’s Unwiches.

2. Potatoes, pasta and rice

Mashed potatoes are the ULTIMATE comfort food. I LOVE them and used to eat them all the time growing up. Now I know why they were so delicious– one cup has 35g of carbs! And like we would only eat one cup, right? No, they’re like potato chips. You can’t eat just one (cup). And no, they aren’t much better for you (carb-wise) even if you make them from red potatoes and leave the skins on. Sweet potatoes also have 27g of carbs per potato.

Pasta has 48g of carbs per cup. Brown rice has 44g of carbs and white rice has 53g of carbs per cup. (No wonder I always loved eating Chinese food! I loaded up on white rice every time.)

Substitution suggestions

The hubs and I used this recipe for baked macaroni and cheese, and swapped cauliflower rice for the pasta. It was AMAZING!!!!

Cauliflower and broccoli are my friends. They’re low-carb vegetables that work really well as a substitute, especially cauliflower. I swap them out for potatoes, pasta, or rice. Spaghetti sauce and meatballs over broccoli, grilled chicken with cauliflower rice, and hamburger patties with cauliflower are some of my favorites. This product is an AWESOME precooked cauliflower rice that can be quickly heated in the microwave.

Zoodles (zucchini noodles) are becoming more popular, and are even an option in some Italian restaurants! My hubby and I make zoodles with our food processor. You can also use a spiralizer. I have never found a frozen or precooked version of zoodles that I liked. If you find one, please let me know in the comments!

3. Tortillas

Tortillas usually have about 20g of carbs. I always loved eating them in a soft taco, burrito, enchilada or salad. Fortunately, I found some other ways to get my Taco Tuesday fix.

One way is to make yourself a taco salad instead- I would usually make a salad with lettuce, meat, cheese, and tomatoes, and either skip the rice/beans or eat a very small amount. Same thing with the tortilla strips on top, if that’s your thing.

If you absolutely have to have the tortilla shell, these are a low-carb version of flour tortillas, and to me, they honestly taste the same! Also, I LOVE these cheese wraps! These are a delicious substitute for tortillas. My mother-in-law uses the parmesan cheese wraps to make amazing keto lasagna.

4. Milk

Ahhhh, milk! Does a body good, right? One cup of milk has about 12g carbs and 12g sugar. (Does anyone ever actually drink just one cup, though? Haha.) I always had issues with blood sugar if I drank milk with my breakfast, so I just found it easier to use a milk substitute. If you are a big milk drinker, I have heard Fairlife milk is great for low-carb diets and women with gestational diabetes. I have not personally tried it, so I can’t attest to this.

Milk substitutes

Unsweetened almond milk is a great alternative to dairy milk. This is a great product! I use this to make smoothies, protein shakes, and chocolate milk.

Unsweetened coconut milk is also delicious. Since it has a little more fat, I personally think it has a more creamy and rich taste than almond milk.

I also love this combination of almond and coconut milk! Add some unsweetened cocoa powder (and maybe a little stevia or monkfruit extract), and it tastes like you’re drinking a Mounds bar.

Summary

Gestational diabetes does NOT mean you have to stop eating everything you love and be miserable all the time. Get creative with your meals! Use these suggestions (low-carb bread and tortillas, cauliflower and broccoli, and milk substitutes) to cut out some of those carbs.

What do you use to satisfy cravings, while still keeping your blood sugar low? Let me know in the comments!

Looking for more GD-friendly meal/snack ideas? Check out this post on Greek yogurt.