We're nuts about nuts, seeds, peanut butter & nut butters!
Nuts, seeds, peanut butter and nut butters are a great source of protein and natural fats.
This means that they make for a great 'GD food pairing tool' to eat with carbohydrates to slow down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream.
But with so many different products available to buy, which ones should you choose and are any better than others?
Here we share with you all our hints and tips for choosing the best nuts, seeds, peanut butter and nut butters...
Nuts are a great source of protein and natural fat but they do still contain carbohydrates, meaning that some nuts are better than others. The best choice for nuts are nuts which are not salted or flavoured.
Looking at this chart we can see that cashew nuts and pistachio nuts contain the highest amounts of carbohydrates, making them the nuts which aren't so good for pairing if eaten in larger amounts.
Another nut that is high in carbohydrates, which isn't listed on this chart is the chestnut, so be wary of these carby nuts at Christmas!
Highest in protein are the peanut and almonds. With macademia, walnuts and pecans being the highest in fats. That makes these nuts better for food pairing.
Flavoured or coated nuts
Salted, dry roasted, sweet chilli, BBQ, salt & vinegar, yoghurt coated, crispy shells, chocolate coated, you name it they seem make nuts covered or coated in so many different things.
Savoury nuts included salted, dry roasted and flavoured contain high amounts of salt, so bear this in mind when eating them.
Choosing nuts which are yoghurt or chocolate coated means that you are significantly increasing the carb amount, making these type of nuts possibly suitable for a treat, but would not be advisable as such good 'food pairing tools'.
What about snickers, peanut M&Ms & Reese's peanut butter cups?
In the knowledge that nuts help pair carbs, lots of ladies will ask if that makes sweet treats with nuts a suitable sweet treat option... they're nuts so they'll be OK, right?
The problem with all these items is that they contain high amounts of refined sugars. Each of these items first ingredient is sugar.
Snickers has not only chocolate, but nougat and caramel, the M&Ms are coated in a sugar shell and Reese's peanut butter has a lot of added sugar.
You can safely eat chocolate with gestational diabetes, but we recommend small amounts of chocolate, preferably dark chocolate with higher cocoa content. Our chocolate page explains suggestions and tips for eating chocolate in more detail.
Peanut M&Ms per 41g suggested portion size = 24.2g carbs or 6 tsp of sugar
Snickers bar 48g single bar = 26.2g carbs per bar or 6 ½ tsp of sugar
Reese's Peanut butter cups, 3 cup pack = 26.4g carbs or 6 ½ tsp of sugar
Beware of nuts mixed with dried fruit!
Fruit is a simple carbohydrate meaning the fructose is easily absorbed into the bloodstream.
The drying process strips the fruit of its water and some dried fruits have additional sugars added during the drying process meaning they can cause high spikes in blood sugar levels.
Along with grapes, we call dried fruit 'sugar bullets'! Just because it's fruit, it doesn't mean it is the 'heathly option' as far as your blood sugar levels are concerned.
Just to give you an idea of the amount of carbs in dried fruit, in a small 42.5g pack of raisins, like these, there is 29.5g!
That's the equivalent of just over 7 tsp of sugar, more than a snickers or 3 pack of Reese's butternut cups!!
The question of dates comes up a lot as they are something that many ladies want to eat with the hopes of encouraging labour.
A study published in 2011 on 114 women, showed that eating six date fruits per day for 4 weeks prior to their estimated date of delivery significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labour, and produced a more favourable, but non-significant, delivery outcome.
Dates therefore would be a great thing to try if you were wanting to encourage spontaneous delivery, but for those with diabetes it could be detrimental to their trying to achieve lower and stabilised blood sugar levels.
Dates have around 75g carbs per 100g, which is the equivalent to 18 ¾ tsp of sugar!
Peanut butter is one our favourite food pairing tools! Absolutely ram packed with good fats and protein it is great for spreading, dipping, cooking and baking with.
Interesting fact: 1 heaped tbsp of peanut butter has the equivalent protein of an egg!
Whilst peanut butter is a great source of fat and protein, these too can vary quite dramatically in total carb amounts, depending on the ingredients used.
Please note: most peanut butters (apart from reduced fat ones) are good, but here we share the ones we've found with the lowest carbs per 100g.
Here we share with you our best finds...
Our #1 peanut butter - Kelkin Crunchy
With only 2.0g carbs per 100g, Kelkin is the lowest carb peanut butter we can find. Sadly it is only available in Ireland, but a great choice for our ladies in Ireland.
Our best UK Supermarket own brand - ASDA Crunchy Peanut Butter
4.6g total carbs per 100g makes ASDA own brand crunchy peanut butter our lowest carb supermarket brand.
Our best widely available peanut butter - Whole Earth Peanut Butter with Pumpkin, Sunflower & Flax seeds
This Whole Earth peanut butter has 4.6g total carbs and packed with extra protein and fats from the seeds, this peanut butter tastes lush! It's a smooth peanut butter with added seeds, causing a slightly green tinge, but it has a lovely natural taste.
Smooth peanut butters
Smooth peanut butters contain more carbs and so it's best to go for crunchy ones instead if you want to aim for ones with the lowest carbs.
We've also compared smooth peanut butters, so that you can choose lower carb ones if you struggle with crunchy textures.
Please note: the Whole Earth peanut butter with sunflower, pumpkin and flax seeds is not completely smooth due to the seeds.
No added sugar peanut butters
Just because a product has no added sugar, does not mean it is sugar free and it can still contain higher amounts of carbs (which turn into sugar).
Don't be drawn in by No Added Sugar marketing!
Read the labels and compare total carbs as well as ingredients.
Your body does not care if it's added sugar, natural sugar, or just carbs turning to sugar, all of it can raise blood sugar levels.
When comparing carbs on peanut butters, you may find that many of the no added sugar ones have more than double the carbs of others!
Nut or seed butters
If you cannot eat peanuts or do not like peanut butter, other nut butters or seed butters make a great alternative.
Once again carb amounts vary, with cashew nut butter being the highest in carbs, around 19g carbs per 100g.
Hazelnut and almond nut butters are much lower in carbs (under 7g carbs per 100g) and make for lower carb nut butter choices.
Seeds are another great food to use as a tool for GD food pairing. Just like nuts they are packed with protein and good fats, so are seeds.
Seeds are especially beneficial to those who are allergic to tree nuts.
Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, linseed, flaxseed, chia seeds, soya beans are all great choices.
Lots of ladies ask us what to do with seeds, but just eat them as a snack or sprinkle them on top of things; in yoghurt, on top of desserts when eating fruit and cream, on salads, soups for extra crunch texture.
They are great for adding to cakes like our mug cakes which can be found in our Bronze & Silver membership section
Chia seeds are the higher carb seed, but with lots of protein and fibre. They contain lots of calcium, antioxidants and good fats meaning they are still a great seed to use on the gestational diabetes diet.
You can make some lovely things with chia seeds as they swell and form a gel like texture, similar to that of pectin which helps make jam set.
A popular dish is chia pudding, used as a dessert, breakfast, or snack.
The Wellness Mama has some great ideas for some lovely chia seed puddings, but it's advisable to use milk which you tolerate best (complete a milk test if you are wanting to use cows milk and are unsure how well you tolerate milk).
Check out the Wellness Mama Chia Seed Pudding recipe.
Be careful adding too much fruit, any honey or jam to chia seed pudding as these are high carb ingredients which will spike blood sugar levels.
Nuts, seeds, peanut butter & nut butter snacks
Nuts, seeds, peanut butter & nut butters are great for the snacks between meals, after you've tested your blood sugar levels which will help your levels stay lower and stabilised.
Use them to pair carbs like fruit so that you slow down the natural release of fructose (natural fruit sugars). Or add a good helping of peanut or nut butter to starchy carbs such as oatcakes or ryvita. Once again the fat and protein will help make these carbs more tolerable, it will stabilise your levels, give you more energy and stop you getting hungry between meals.
Try our peanut butter cookies...
If you would like a simple recipe for making a nice sweet treat which won't spike blood sugar levels, then you should try our Sugar Free Low Carb Peanut butter Cookies
Need more help?
For more information on following the diet we advocate, take a look at our 8 golden rules for eating.
If you're still struggling for ideas and inspiration, looking for extra hints & tips, shopping lists and help with takeaways and eating out then take a look at our membership options.