Gestational diabetes Christmas Survival Guide!
Here's your ultimate survival guide to a gestational diabetes Christmas. Dedicated to all our members that are looking at ways to stay on track through the festive period which is packed with food, food, drink and more food.
Gestational diabetes Christmas choice
Some medical professionals will say, have a day off your diet for Christmas. I guess the question to ask is, does gestational diabetes go on hold for the day while you have a day off?
No I'm afraid it doesn't and so eating lots of things that spike your blood sugar levels will cause excess sugar to be pushed through your baby and you are also going to feel rotten with roller coaster blood sugar levels.
Those trying to cover what they're eating with increased insulin doses are putting themselves at risk of causing unpleasant hypos. Please also remember that increasing insulin also increases insulin resistance, so you are worsening the condition. Insulin is fine if you need it, but you may want to stick to better food choices to avoid unnecessarily increasing doses. Why take more if you don't really need to?
So you have a choice to make:
- Forget about gestational diabetes for the day and suffer any related consequences OR
- Decide what you will treat yourself with and use the information contained on this page which we've compiled to help you make some better choices. You do not need to deprive yourself!
- Failing that you could just postpone your Christmas meal, treats and goodies until after baby has been born
If you do decide to 'have a day off' then make sure you're not tempted to continue eating things that are going to be detrimental and get back on track the next day. Remember this isn't the usual type of diet where you can take a break for the whole of the Christmas period and then get back on the wagon in the New Year. If it helps, think of gestational diabetes as an allergy - like your baby is 'allergic' to sugar, obviously they are not actually allergic to sugar at all, but this helps some mothers think of gestational diabetes a bit differently, especially when faced with a lot of temptations.
Depending on how good you can be, why not take a few of your favourite chocolates out of the family box to hide away just for you. You could treat yourself every day over Christmas, to a couple of individual chocolates with a handful of nuts or glass of soya milk as a 'snack'.
It's better than getting to the box only to find that everyone else has eaten the only ones you like. If you're going to enjoy a chocolate then stash the ones you like and make your treat worthwhile!
If you can't be so controlled with the chocolates then you could keep a box of your favourite ones for your hospital bag or post birth treats!
For more help with eating chocolate with gestational diabetes, take a look at our dedicated chocolate page.
These traditional favourite pies can be your worst nightmare for high blood sugar levels and so they come with a 'warning'. They contain carbohydrate after carbohydrate, from the fruit to the sugar to white flour pastry, all these things are going to cause you problems for blood sugar levels. One saving grace is that you can smother them with some thick whipped cream to make them more tolerable, but they are still very difficult to tolerate.
Here's some lower carb alternatives and whilst they still contain a lot of carbs they will still be much lower than shop bought mince pies.
Lorraine Pascale's Crispy filo mince pies with pear and apple mincemeat
If you feel Lorraine's recipe for mincemeat may still be too high in carbs for you then you could try this as an alternative recipe for the filling. This has a total of approximately 125g carbs for a 411g jar as opposed to around 275g carbs for a ready made jar.
Ingredients: 220g cooking apples, 150g stewed rhubarb, 45g sultanas, 45g currants, 50g melted butter, finely grated zest of 1 orange, finely grated zest of 1 lemon, ½ tsp mixed spice, ¼ tsp nutmeg, ¼ tsp ground cloves, sweetener about 2tsp or to taste, 1 tbsp molasses.
Recipe: Peel and chop apples, microwave until soft, mix together with all the rest of the ingredients, spoon into a jar. For best results leave overnight before using, must be stored in the fridge. Adjust the recipe to suit your taste, e.g. more or less or different spices, you can add more dried fruit, but it would increase the carb content. Recipe shared on diabetes.co.uk community forum by WhitbyJet.
Making mini mince pies may be hugely beneficial, meaning you could have a bite sized treat! You could sprinkle your mince pies with flaked almonds instead of dusting with icing sugar to help even more with food pairing and don't forget that big dollop of whipped cream!
Christmas parties and meals
In the lead up to Christmas no doubt many of you will be attending Christmas parties and meals. Planning is key with these occasions. Try to find out what foods will be available on menus before you go and make wise choices based on our 8 golden rules of eating.
If you get stuck then ask in the Facebook support group and no doubt many people will help you select the best choices.
It's just another day!
Remember to do all the things you normally would, eat little and often, snacking through the day to keep blood sugar levels stabilised.
There should be plenty of nuts, cheese and crackers about, so no excuse to not nibble and keep those levels stabilised.
Stay well hydrated. If you are having any treats or a larger meal for Christmas dinner then make sure you're drinking plenty (more than normal) to help flush any excess sugars through.
Gestational diabetes Christmas Breakfast
Start the day off on a good foot, by having a really good, safe breakfast that will keep your blood sugar levels stabilised.
Smoked Scottish Salmon and Scrambled Eggs on Toast
Ingredients: plenty of Scottish smoked salmon trimmings or slices (don't scrimp on breakfast morning!), Burgen soya & linseed, pumpernickel or rye bread, 6 eggs, 20g butter, 2 tbsp double cream, 1 tbsp chopped parsley or chives, a few drops lemon juice, freshly ground black pepper and salt
Recipe: Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk. Pop the bread under the grill or in the toaster. Place a frying pan over a medium to high heat, add the butter and melt but don’t brown. Add the eggs and cook, stirring continuously with a heatproof spatula until it starts to thicken. Immediately take off the heat (don’t overcook!), add the cream, season with the salt and pepper and beat well. Pile a portion of scrambled egg onto the toast, top with the salmon, squeeze over a little lemon a grind of pepper and sprinkle over some herbs - parsley or chives.
Have a change from the norm with some scrumptious eggs benedict. Gordon Ramsey's recipe looks scrumptious for a special Christmas breakfast treat!
Swap the white English muffins for a GD friendly alternative and enjoy these with or without cooked ham or bacon for something different. If you don't want to risk making your own hollandaise sauce, then you could purchase a pre-made pasteurised one in advance.
Don't forget to use lion stamped eggs for those runny yolks!
Almond and Flaxseed Pancakes
Fed up with eggy egg breakfasts yet struggle to tolerate other things, or you don't like the texture or taste of banana pancakes? Time to try another pancake alternative!
Ingredients: 330g ground almonds or almond flour, 1 tbsp ground flaxseed, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp baking soda, 3 large eggs, 180ml unsweetened almond milk, light coconut milk, or whole milk, 2 tbsp extra-light olive oil, walnut oil, coconut oil, or butter, melted.
Recipe: Combine the almond meal, flaxseed, salt, and baking soda. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the milk and oil or butter and whisk thoroughly. Gradually whisk the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Add more milk as necessary, one tablespoon at a time, to reach pancake-batter consistency. Lightly oil a frying pan and heat over medium heat. Pour 4 tbsp of batter onto the pan. Cook for three minutes, or until bubbles form and edges are cooked. Flip and cook for three minutes or until underside is lightly browned. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with full fat greek yoghurt, berries, nuts and seeds. Or for an American style treat, try serving with rashers of streaky bacon, drizzled with agave nectar! Recipe from Popsugar
The main event! Gestational diabetes Christmas dinner
Keep starters small so that you are not causing your body too much stress in trying to process large amounts of food in one go. This could be a long meal and so light bites for starters will help you!
This classic dish can be tailored to be much more GD friendly and is a nice light bite! This recipe adds avocado which is fab for natural fats.
The recipe can be tweaked further to use full fat mayonnaise and fromage frais and reduced sugar tomato ketchup or even tomato purée instead. It would be a good idea to leave out the brandy, not only for pregnancy but also because of the effect alcohol has on blood sugar levels. Take a look at the recipe by Angela Nilsen on the BBC Good Food website
Roasted butternut squash soup
Ingredients: 1 butternut squash, 1 whole garlic, 1 whole onion, olive oil, 300ml chicken or vegetable stock, 150ml double cream, freshly ground salt and pepper.
Recipe: Cut a butternut squash in half length ways and scoop out the pulp. Add a few smashed garlic gloves to the hole where the pulp came from and onto a roasting tray and an onion, peeled and cut into big wedges. Drizzle all with olive oil and season with S&P. Roast in an oven until soft. Once cooked, scoop the squash out of the skin and throw the roasted garlic (squeezed from the skin), the butternut squash and the onion into a blender. Add stock and blitz. Add double cream to help make the soup more GD friendly.
You could make some Burgen soya & linseed garlic croutons to go with it too or add roasted pumpkin seeds for extra protein, fat and crunch! Add an extra spot of cream and some herbs for garnish.
Main meal - Christmas DINNER!
The usual traditional roast dinner served is a very suitable meal for gestational diabetes and should be one that you can enjoy without too many tweaks.
Meat or Fish
High protein as always will be your best friend. Help yourself to plenty of the following:
Gestational diabetes Christmas Vegetarian alternatives
Vegetarian nut loaf
Makes one 900g loaf tin or 2x 450g loaf tins. If using smaller loaf tin you may need to reduce cooking time to 30 mins. Cooking time for 900g loaf tin is 45mins. Preparation time 20 mins. 900g size serves 8. Per serving: approx 4.5g carbs, 35g fat (9.8g saturated) 393 calories
Ingredients: 100g pecan nuts, 100g Brazil nuts, 60g almonds, blanched, 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, 25g unsalted butter
5 shallots, peeled and finely chopped, 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped, 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (vegetarian ones are available in health food stores), 1 tsp white wine or apple cider vinegar, ½ tsp English mustard powder, 3 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped, 1 tbsp fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped, 3 large eggs, beaten, 150g Red Leicester or strong Cheddar cheese, 400g tin chopped tomatoes, drained.
Recipe: Gently toast nuts and pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan, over medium heat, stirring gently until golden. Allow to cool, then pulse nuts in a food processor until finely chopped. Do not let the nuts turn into a powder. Melt the butter in a small frying pan and sweat the shallots and garlic for 5 mins or until soft. Preheat the oven to 180°c (160°c fan) 350°F. Grease the loaf tin(s), line the base with baking parchment, then grease again. In a large bowl, mix the nuts, shallots & garlic, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, beaten eggs, sage, parsley, mustard powder and tomatoes. Season with freshly ground salt and pepper. Mix well. Scoop mixture into prepared tin(s) and bake for 45mins (900g tin) possibly only 30 mins for 450g tins or until firm and golden. Leave to cool slightly, then turn out on serving plate and peel away baking parchment. Recipe shared on diabetes.co.uk community forum
This celeriac dauphinoise or gratin makes for a wonderful vegetarian alternative or a great side dish for Christmas dinner.
You could tweak this further by removing the potato or replacing white potatoes with sweet potatoes if you tolerate them better. Either way, potato or not, this looks like a yummy dish worthy of celebrating Christmas day with loved ones and a great dish for a gestational diabetes Christmas!
Check out the recipe from Jamie Oliver's website here.
As always with 8 golden rules of eating, bulk up your meal with plenty of vegetables (especially green ones): sprouts, parsnips, cabbage, asparagus, carrots, peas, broccoli, green beans, creamed spinach and cauliflower cheese made with double cream, cheese and mustard.
Watch out for parsnips coated in honey or sweet drizzles, braised red cabbage cooked with sweet cider, apples and fruit juices.
Buttered sprouts with bacon and walnuts
You'll never boil or steam a sprout again after trying this!
Ingredients: 600g Brussels sprouts, 4 rashers streaky bacon, chopped, 25g walnuts, coarsely chopped, 25g butter
Recipe: Place the sprouts in a pan of salted, boiling water; cook for 5 minutes then drain. Heat a large frying pan; fry the bacon until crisp then add the walnuts and fry for 1 minute. Add the sprouts and the butter and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned.
Recipe from lakeland.co.uk
As always, you will need to go careful with the amount of potatoes on your plate. Cook roast potatoes in duck or goose fat to increase the fat content which will slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream (and makes for great roasties!)
New potatoes may be more suitable for some and adding a spot of butter on top will make them even more tolerable.
With mash potato, try adding butter, cream and cheese. Avoid overdoing the potato accompaniments as it will be carb overload, choose your favourite type and enjoy it.
For hints on how to cook potatoes in goose fat read more here, but avoid coating the potatoes in a dusting of flour or semolina, this is additional carbohydrates that are not necessary.
Pigs in blankets
The key to great pigs in blankets that are suitable for a gestational diabetes diet, is ensuring you purchase good, high quality meat sausages (without extras such as honey or apple). Try your local butcher or supermarket and aim for sausages with over 90% meat content. These are usually the shops best, top range, or luxury sausages.
James Martin shares how to make your own pigs in blankets here, without any added extras such as honey
Stuffing can be tricky to tolerate. This is due to the breadcrumbs and fillers added to many stuffings. Aim to use high meat content sausagemeat, above 90% meat content and replace white breadcrumbs with a tolerable bread such as Burgen soya & linseed.
Chestnut stuffing roll
This recipe looks like it could be tweaked as a suitable stuffing. Chestnuts can also be quite carb heavy, so you will need to only have a small amount of this or look to replace chestnuts with another nut instead. Further information on nuts can be found here.
Wholemeal Yorkshire Puddings
Ingredients: 100g Whole Spelt Flour, sieved, 2 Eggs, 150 mlMilk, 1 pinch Fine Sea Salt, Coconut Oil or olive oil
Recipe: Preheat the oven to 220°c and place ¼ tsp of coconut oil into each bottom of a 12 hole muffin tin baking tray. Once the oven is hot, place the muffin tray into the oven to heat the oil for 5 minutes until hot! Whilst the oil gets hot, whisk the eggs into the flour and salt and then slowly add the milk. Whisk hard to remove any lumps. Once the oil is hot, remove the tray from the oven and fill each hole ¼ full with the batter. Place the tray back into the oven and cook for 10 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Recipe from Charlie on the Kitchen Shed
You may want to add some rosemary to the batter mixture as the taste of spelt or wholemeal flour can taste slightly different to what white flour does.
The majority of gravy granules contain flour as thickening agents, which are additional carbs poured all over your meal. The best option for GD friendly gravy is to make gravy from scratch. Jamie Oliver has some great gravy recipes including this one where the gravy is prepared ahead of the day required. Take a look at this recipe, you could omit the flour and continue to simmer to thicken through evaporation instead to make this lower carb.
If you're looking for pre-made gravies, then look out for fresh gravies and/or ones which have been with real meat juices. Compare the labels and look for the the lowest total carbs.
Avoid additional sauces
- Cranberry sauce
- Bread sauce
Unfortunately these sauces contain high amounts of carbohydrates. If you want to add them to your Christmas dinner you will need to remove another high carb food such as potato to compensate.
Gestational diabetes Christmas Dessert
I've searched and searched, but I've struggled finding a Christmas pudding worth sharing with you all. The Christmas puddings which are 'sugar free' still have a lot of carbs including flour, breadcrumbs, fruits, dried fruit, fruit juices and alcohol which I think are still going to be too much of a sugar spike, even when paired with copious amounts of cream and nuts.
If you really want a wee bit of Christmas pudding then you may want to purchase a Jenkins & Hustwit No added sugar Christmas Pudding. These still contain high carbs but no additional sugar and no sweeteners which may upset your tummy. They can be purchased online from multiple retailers for around £11.00
Alternatively, if you would like to try to make your own there is a couple of recipes shared on the Jamie Oliver forum here. Nigella Lawson's Sugar Free Christmas Pudding recipe shared here and Josceline Dimbleby's Christmas Pudding recipe shared with Woman & Home magazine here.
No Added Sugar Angel Delight Santa
If you want to indulge in a big Christmas meal but want a reliable dessert that you know you tolerate well, then why not just put a Christmas spin on something that you feel confident with?
If you're one of our ladies that tolerates No Added Sugar Delight well, then try making a Santa for some fun!
Make your No Added Sugar Angel Delight as normal but pop it in the freezer in a small bowl, glass or mug to help create Santa's head. When you're ready, sit the bowl in some warm water to release the delight from the bowl and turn it upside down on a plate. Whip your double cream so that it is fairly stiff and then pipe the beard, nose and hat. Add a sliced strawberry to create the hat and 2 choc drops for eyes. Voila! Merrrrrry Chrissssssssstmas!
Frozen White Christmas Pudding
With only 5.4g carbs per serving, I think this 'Christmas Pudding' from ditchthecarbs.com makes for a much better choice!
If you want to make something which can be a beautiful centre piece to your table, then why not try making this gorgeous Coconut Snowball Cake, made with soya flour.
It not only looks amazing but you will be able to enjoy a slice too! It serves 12 and 1 serving is approx. 6.5g carbs.
The recipe was shared by Avera and can be found on diabeticconnect.com
Slow cooker ginger cake
This recipe uses almond flour and coconut flour. You can purchase these from somewhere such as Holland & Barrett or you could use ground almonds and unsweetened desiccated coconut blitzed instead. Take a look at the recipe which is shown on a sweetlife.org
Many say you can't have Christmas without trifle, so here you go!
Sponge; Ideally avoid using cake or alcohol in your recipe as these increase the carbohydrate content, making it harder to tolerate. If you want to add cake, then avoid using high carb Madeira cake and use sponge fingers (lady fingers) instead which have around 5-6g carb per finger.
Fruit; For the fruit, choose berries over other fruits such as tropical fruits or peaches. Berries contain less fructose than other fruits and are generally well tolerated. You may want to use some frozen berries as these are easy to source and the juices from them when defrosting will only add to the flavour of your trifle. Use fresh berries on top for garnish.
Jelly; this is simple as any sugar free jelly will be suitable.
Custard; Custard can be another tricky counterpart in a trifle as custard powders and ready made custards may be too carb heavy. Try this recipe for a low carb home made custard:
Ingredients: 300ml double cream, 4 egg yolks and 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways, sweetener to taste
Recipe: Add the cream and split vanilla pod to a saucepan. On a low heat, bring the double cream to a gentle simmer. Whisk the 4 egg yolks in a bowl. Carefully add the warm cream to the eggs very slowly, whisking with a balloon whisk constantly until the mixture goes golden yellow and smooth. Return the mixture to the saucepan and continue whisking on a very low heat until thickened. The custard should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the vanilla pod and add sweetener to taste. Pour the custard into a bowl to cool and refrigerate until making the trifle.
Cream; Add plenty of whipped cream to your trifle. This will help with food pairing. You could even have pouring cream on top too, it is Christmas!
Nuts; Finish with toasted flaked almonds for a bit of protein, good fats and a nice crunch.
A great alternative to a dessert is a wide selection of pasteurised cheeses on some oat cakes. Why not try the Nairn's Organic Super-Seeded Oatcakes.
You can display your cheese simply on a board or plate, but why not make your cheese course the centre piece at the end of the Christmas meal.
Use olives instead of sugar bullets (grapes) for decoration and create a beautiful rosemary wreath for your cheese to sit on.
Or try a Cheesey Christmas Snowman that the kids will adore?
It really doesn't have to just be lumps of cheese sat on a plate!
If you're craving pâté in pregnancy then this home made mushroom pâté makes for both a pregnancy and GD friendly alternative.
Served with brown sandwich thins lightly toasted to make crisp cracker bread, or any wholegrain crackers, oatcakes or a sliced Lidl protein roll. Find the recipe here.
Go for a Christmas day stroll
It's been a very big meal and so the best thing you can do afterwards, is wrap up warm and walk off some of those carbs.
Exercise has an insulin like effect on the body and a 30 min walk after your dinner will help tremendously. Take the family, friends and the dog and enjoy a lovely walk together.
If you're struggling with SPD/PGP (Pelvic girdle pain), then any movement will help. Clearing the dinner table and helping wash or dry dishes. Or if that's too much then try bouncing on a birth ball for a while to help get you moving gently.
Gestational diabetes Christmas Supper
BLT salad bowl
Eating all this food in one day is going to be challenging, but it's still important to eat little and often.
Steer clear of the turkey sandwiches and go for a lighter salad supper.
Why not add leftover Christmas day meat to this lovely looking BLT salad shared by The Londoner, then have a mince pie or a couple of chocolates with nuts for your carbs.
Goats cheese and walnut salad
No doubt you'll have plenty of cheese and nuts around the house, so why not create a light tasty supper salad (also suitable for our vegetarians) in this lovely warm goats cheese and walnut salad shared by Ocado
Check out the recipe here. They recommend walnut loaf, but any tolerable bread would work well.
With all the food being passed around at Christmas, your best choice is always going to be water. Drinking plenty of water will help flush the sugar through and will help keep levels lower and stabilised. Don't forget that carbonated water with ice and slice of lemon or lime can be a nice refreshing alternative. That said, as long as you drink plenty throughout the day, there's no reason you couldn't enjoy something a wee bit more festive to drink too!
We do not advocate drinking alcohol in pregnancy. If any ladies decide to drink alcohol, please note that alcohol will also have an impact on your blood sugar levels.
Winter Spice Ribena
Yes Ribena! But this is a nice little change from normal blackcurrant which has a wonderful Christmassy taste with no added sugar. Have a warm glass as a GD friendly, low carb alternative for mulled wine!
Hot Chocolate Orange
If you can't get through Christmas without a chocolate orange fix, then this recipe from Low-Carb, So Simple is definitely worth a try!
If you fancy something a bit 'After Eight' and cannot tolerate dairy, try out this recipe from Karen Sorenson at Holistically Engineered.
Any mocktails or drinks that use fruit juices are going to be slightly more risky, so if you try this, try to use a no added sugar cranberry juice like Ocean Spray Cranberry Light which has only 1.5g total carbs per 100ml.
You can find the recipe at Sugar-Free Mom.
Here's another refreshing cold fizz to try that may brighten your Christmas day! If you tolerate the odd strawberry fine, then try out this recipe. This would also look the part in a champagne glass, so you feel a like you've not missed out on a special drink.
Christmas day evening nibbles
Stick to the things you know work well: nuts, cheese, cooked meats, oatcakes, hummus, sour cream chive dip, vegetable sticks, celery filled with cream cheese, real potato crisps, popcorn, granny smith and peanut butter, high meat content sausages or pigs in blankets left over from dinner, scotch eggs, devilled eggs, olives, seeds etc.
Boxing Day leftovers
Things to do with left over turkey and ham:
- Turkey curry
- Thai Turkey curry (see James Martin's recipe) The Mae Ploy Green Thai curry paste works well
- Turkey salad with Chinese cabbage, beansprouts and Vietnamese mint (replace the sugar with a sweetener)
- Turkey with bacon, peas and cream
- Cream of turkey soup
- Spiced ham hash (serve with salad instead of toast)
Gestational diabetes Christmas downer
Having gestational diabetes over Christmas can really effect some women as they feel deprived of the best bits of Christmas and the things they enjoy most. Share the gestational diabetes and the family page if you are struggling to get loved ones to understand about gestational diabetes and all the food and treats being passed around at Christmas.
Try not to focus on all the temptations and things 'you can't have' as the main focus of Christmas. Christmas isn't just about food, it's about spending time with those that matter to you most, celebrating and having fun. You can still enjoy a wonderful Christmas and stay on track if you want to. We are lucky that we only have this to contend with diabetes during pregnancy. It's only one Christmas and there will be many more to enjoy with your new sugar baby.
For help with party food...
My Gestational diabetes party food post has tons of party food ideas and recipe links so that you can make the most out of your gestational diabetes Christmas and New Year parties and enjoy some scrummy low carb food.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, With Love From Jo xx