Gestational Diabetes and Baby Showers
This post is for all those lucky ladies that are fortunate enough to be surrounded by some lovely family and friends who want throw them baby showers.
Having never had a baby shower myself, or attending one, I'm going by what I've heard about them in my Facebook group and will try my best to explain how having gestational diabetes can make a mother be filled with dread when they hear the words baby shower!
Baby showers are more common in America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but they are starting to become more popular in the UK too. For those that are unsure of this growing trend, here is what Wiki says:
A baby shower is a way to celebrate the expected or delivered birth of a child by presenting gifts to the mother at a party. Activities at baby showers include gift-giving and playing themed games. Cake and finger foods are often served at baby showers.
And it's that last sentence that is what can cause a problem for most. Most think of baby showers and imagine finger foods, or an afternoon tea packed with carbs and sugar laden cakes galore. For many, baby showers can be a big part of their pregnancy that they've been looking forward to and the thought of having a party surrounded by things they feel they can't eat, whilst others indulge at THEIR party is enough to make them want to cancel.
"What should I do?"... "What can I eat?"
The biggest question we get asked in our Facebook support group is what can they eat at their baby shower with gestational diabetes.
There's a few answers to that question:
- Have a day off testing blood sugar levels, forget about GD for the day and enjoy your baby shower
- Have a little treat but continue to monitor blood sugar levels. Make good choices from the food supplied and just do your best!
- Have a GD friendly baby shower (yes! It CAN be done)
No 1 is the response we see most ladies being given by their health care professionals when they ask about special occasions like baby showers, Birthdays, Anniversaries etc. The pro to this is that you can have a day off and celebrate your pregnancy with your family and friends the way you expected you would. It's also a pro for some that they do not need to discuss GD diagnosis and diet with family and friends and are not feeling awkward by refusing to eat certain foods.
The cons are that you may make yourself feel quite poorly from the amount of sugar consumed which you are no longer used to. Symptoms from high blood sugar levels (a hyper) may include the following: headache, racing heart, sweating, shaking, thirst, blurred vision, feeling nauseous, changes in emotions (overly emotional or angry). You are pushing your body to an extreme doing this and the sugar will pass through to your baby causing them to consume excess amounts of sugar and to increase their own insulin production.
A couple of high blood sugar levels do not cause complications to your baby, however this can be the road to falling off the wagon and may mean you struggle to remain on the GD diet following the day of treats.
Feelings of guilt and regret are the next biggest con that we see when ladies have taken a 'day off'. So you need to think if having a few treats at your baby shower is going to cause any upset to you later.
For venues where they are preparing the food
The biggest struggle for many is where venues with set menus have been booked. Some baby showers have taken a lot of time, money and effort to arrange and so it can be quite depressing and distressing looking at a menu and thinking what on earth can I eat?! I don't want to upset or offend anyone, but most of this food will cause my blood sugar levels to rocket!
If you are faced with situation and want to make the best choices on a GD diet, then go back to basics and think about what is being offered.
Think about the 8 golden rules. What on that menu could you eat, is there anything you could take away or add to make it more tolerable.
Don't be afraid to ask them to adapt the menu or provide something more suitable! If you had a nut allergy or was coeliac then you would have to ask for certain changes to a menu to make it safe to consume. If you want to eat foods that are better for keeping your blood sugar levels within safer limits then it is no different and most venues are more than happy to adapt their menus to suit. But it's advisable to do this in advance so they can prepare!
However, be wary of asking for diabetic menus or food. This can easily end up being a case of one type of carb being swapped for another, e.g. cakes replaced with fresh fruits. Be specific with food requests so that they can fully understand what you are asking for. Think cheese and meat platters with wholegrain crackers, egg, fish and meat sandwiches on wholemeal bread, plain scones with lashings of clotted cream (skip the jam), strawberries and fresh cream!
Baby Showers prepared at home
Many will have baby showers prepared by family and friends at home which can make the mother feel even worse when trying to explain which things they would prefer not to eat through fear of upsetting well intentioned thoughts from loved ones.
Please don't do this to a mother with GD....
Whilst baby showers are about showering the mother with gifts and welcoming the baby to world, having fun and spending a good time with loved ones, it's pretty depressing to think that everyone around you can indulge in these things at your party while you can't and putting the mother in this situation can be very upsetting for them.
They can choose to not eat anything whilst everyone else enjoys the very things that many are craving, or they crack and cause themselves to break their safe diet for the sake of some sweet treats. This isn't a weight loss diet where it's easy to take a day off and get back on track the next day. Breaking the GD diet can make the mother feel extremely unwell and has an impact to their baby.
The baby shower cake
Most baby showers will involve a beautiful centre piece cake. Often someone has gone to great trouble to order, create and make a beautiful cake.
Cakes can be made GD friendly by using alternatives to flour and sugar, we have some recipes within our membership section that would be suitable for baby shower cakes, however it is difficult to create the beautiful masterpieces that require icing and sugar paste decorations like the one pictured which will not spike blood sugar levels.
Our advice is that if you are lucky enough to have a beautiful baby shower cake made for you, then either have a very small piece paired really well, or freeze a big slice for eating when the baby has arrived. Lots of ladies have frozen their cake from baby showers with great success!
Creating GD friendly baby showers
Through mothers on our group sharing posts from the website and some of our membership recipes with loved ones, they have been absolutely touched and overwhelmed at the GD friendly baby showers and parties others have created for them. Once you have some idea what types of food are more suitable and which foods to avoid, it really is quite easy! Below are a few ideas and a list of things to avoid.
A basic list of things to avoid:
- Cakes and desserts made with flour and sugar (substituting sugar for sweetener is not enough as wheat flours cause spikes in levels too)
- Sugary drinks including pressé and cordial
- Fresh fruit and fruit juices (other than berries and kiwi)
- Starchy white carbs: bread, pasta, rice
There are many dips which can be shop bought or home made which are very well suited to the GD diet. The key is to go full fat and be careful with what you choose to dip with! Chopped vegetable sticks are one of the best options but if you want a starchy carb to dip, then oatcakes or wholegrain crisp breads make a good choice or you could go for something totally different and use parmesan crisps or pork scratchings!
- Sour cream and chive
- Smoked Mackerel dip; blitz boneless smoked mackerel with full fat cream cheese, 1 tbsp crème fraîche, add lemon juice and cracked black pepper to taste (see the salmon pâté recipe below)
Smoked salmon, dill & lemon pâté
This recipe makes for a great snack or starter. With smoked salmon and full fat cream cheese, it is perfect for pairing with starchy carbs such as oatcakes or wholegrain ryvita crispbreads...
- 150g smoked salmon trimmings
- 200g tub soft full fat cheese
- 1 tbsp crème fraîche
- juice half a lemon
- small bunch dill or chives, chopped
- Scottish oatcakes to serve
- If you aren't using smoked salmon trimmings then chop the salmon into small pieces. Tip the soft cheese, crème fraîche and lemon juice into a food processor, season generously with black pepper and blitz to your liking. Add the smoked salmon and pulse a few times if you want the pâté chunky or blitz some more if you want the pâté smooth and pink.
- Stir the herbs into the pâté and spoon into a large or four smaller bowls and serve with oatcakes as a starter or as a dip. Recipe from bbcgoodfood.com
Meat and fish ideas...
- cooked meat slices platter
- smoked salmon slices platter
- crustless quiches
- high meat content (over 90% meat) cocktail sausages
- large grilled prawns with lemon mayonnaise dip
- cream cheese wrapped in smoked salmon
- smoked salmon cucumber rolls
- spicy bacon wrapped chicken bites
- Mini Mexican chilli bites
- Home made low carb Scotch eggs
- Home made low carb Chicken pakora
- Pizza stuffed mushrooms
- Jalapeño popper stuffed mushrooms
- Bacon spinach feta stuffed mushrooms
- Chargrilled chicken kebabs
- Chicken satay (substitute the honey with agave nectar)
Cooked Chicken drumsticks
Watch out for sticky sweet sauces such as barbecue or glazed chicken. Try these alternatives instead:
- Plain roasted chicken
- Cajun chicken
- Garlic parmesan chicken
- Jalapeño lime chicken
- Lemon pepper chicken
- Chilli lime baked chicken
- Salt and vinegar chicken
- Spicy hot chicken
CHEESE! You can go wild with this, as long as they are pasteurised cheeses suitable to eat in pregnancy and if you're vegetarian you can adapt the ideas by selecting vegetarian cheeses.
- Cheese board (no grapes please!)
- Full fat cream cheese on oatcakes - top with chives, salmon, ham, bacon etc.
- Baked camembert with garlic and rosemary
Or how about these beautiful multicoloured goats cheese aperitifs from Stef à table? (Billes de chèvre multicolores)
Skewered on sticks with cooked cherry tomatoes, ham or smoked salmon. The recipe includes goats cheese and mascarpone rolled into balls, but you could use any full fat cream cheese and then finely chopped chives, pistachios, poppy and sesame seeds to coat.
Eggs are one of the best GD foods out there! High in protein and natural fats and no carbs, make them a staple in the GD diet. The other great thing about eggs is that you can make some fantastic party foods to suit all occasions with them. Check out these eggy ideas!...
Newborn Babies Deviled Eggs
These cute baby shower deviled eggs have to be a baby shower eggy winner!
You can find the recipe over at Keyingredient.com from Diane V.
Or there is this video which shows another twist on these cute baby in the carriage eggs
Pastel dyed deviled eggs
If you have a specific coloured theme for your baby shower, then perhaps you'd like to try these pastel dyed deviled eggs instead?
Use GD friendly bread such as Burgen soya & linseed bread, Hovis lower carb bread, or a Lidl high protein roll sliced into smaller pieces.
You can make open sandwiches which means there are less carbs in the sandwich, therefore making it more tolerable to the GD mother.
You do this by using only one piece of bread on the bottom and adding the filling on top, leaving the sandwich 'open' to help create a gestational diabetes party food with less carbs.
Here's a great example from Tesco with a turkey and avocado open sandwich
- egg mayonnaise
- egg & cress
- ham & cheese
- ham & mustard
- chicken & mayonnaise
- turkey & avocado club sandwiches
- beef & horseradish mayonnaise
- bacon, lettuce & tomato
- coronation chicken (without any raisins, apricots or dried fruit)
- tuna mayonnaise
- smoked salmon & cream cheese
- cream cheese & cucumber
- cheese, mayonnaise & tomato
- peanut butter
More vegetarian ideas
- Nuts (avoid sweet coated/flavoured nuts and go easy with salted ones)
- Potato crisps (real potato crisps, avoiding flavours that are sweet such as honey BBQ etc.)
- celery with cream cheese in the middle
- Stuffed peppers
- Stuffed cream cheese tomato bites
- Cauliflower breadsticks
- Low carb homemade onion bhajis
- Creamy Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms
- Vegetable kebabs
Lorraine Pascale's mini wholemeal cheese scones
Instead of making full sized scones, you could try making mini versions, cut open with sour cream and chives as canapés. Here is Lorraine's recipe, but bearing in mind this recipe still contains white flour you may want to substitute the self raising flour with more wholemeal and baking powder instead to help achieve lower blood sugar levels.
Check out this video for extra tips, (I know the link says filo mince pies, but she makes the mini scones on here too).
Don't forget the salad
Salads can be as basic or as interesting as you want to make them. Green leafy salads with the addition of cheese, avocado and olives make great salads for anyone with gestational diabetes.
Keep dressings on the side so that people can choose what they'd like to add, but include some mayonnaise as this will help with pairing foods to make them better tolerated
Pasta, rice and cous cous and potato salads are all high in carbs, so if you decide to make this type of salad, you can help increase the protein and fat in the dish by adding something like cheese, olives or avocado.
Here's a great recipe for grilled halloumi and cous cous salad from Good To Know
This is where the baby shower can be quite tricky. Most mothers with gestational diabetes will have been avoiding eating cakes and desserts, but may have a few safer items that they rely on. Not only does sugar raise blood sugar levels, but so does the flour in pastry and fruit and so it can make sweet treats quite tricky to find. However, there are quite a few options which will still be tolerable and a nice sweet treat!
- Sugar free jellies
- No Added Sugar angel delight
- Scones with clotted cream and sliced strawberries (avoid jam, even diabetic or no added sugar versions) be wary that the GD mother may only be able to have half or one of these at the most
- Strawberries and cream (real cream, NOT Elmlea)
- Fresh berries, cherries and kiwi
- OPPO ice cream
- Our GD Chocolate mousse
- Our GD Lemon Cheesecakes
- Popcorn (avoid toffee popcorn)
Avoid Fruit platters and Fruit salads!
This may seem like a great idea... swapping sweets and cakes for healthy fresh fruit, but what many fail to realise with gestational diabetes is that the majority of women simply can't tolerate it due to high amounts of fructose (natural sugars from fruit) and so it becomes a food that they desperately crave, but have to avoid.
The best fruit options are mentioned above, such as berries, kiwi, cherries, lemons and limes and so although you mean well, please don't go to all the trouble of creating masterpieces such as these, thinking that they will be a better option, as sadly they will still spike GD mothers blood sugar levels sky high
Gestational Diabetes UK Membership Cake Recipes
We have lots of cake recipes which make for lovely sweet treats which will not raise blood sugar levels like normal cakes would. These are enjoyed by many of our members and have been baby shower saviours for lots of ladies, but are also so good they are enjoyed by all without realising they contain no refined sugar or wheat flours!
Here are some examples of GD UK Membership cakes:
Baby Shower Drinks
Sadly, even drinks can cause problems for blood sugar levels, especially things like fruit juices, smoothies, milkshakes and spritzers. When high sugar liquids are drunk, being liquid the body doesn't need to do much to process them and so the sugar is absorbed even faster than with foods.
However there are lots of safe drinks which can be brightened up and follow your baby shower theme!
There are tons of sugar free and no added sugar flavoured sparkling waters and sodas out there.
Fizzy drinks such as pink lemonade are great for a pink baby shower theme, you just need to look out for no added sugar versions in shops and supermarkets. Or you can make your own using zero or sugar free lemonade with a couple of drops of food colouring!
If looking for non alcoholic drinks then avoid non alocholic wines, ciders and mocktails. All these have high amounts of sugar. The best non alcoholic type beverage we have seen is Becks Blue with 9g total carbs per bottle (which is still the equivalent of just over 2 tsp of sugar per bottle).
Don't let gestational diabetes put a downer on your baby shower. Remember it's not just about food and drink, it's a time to celebrate and enjoy time with loved ones and friends before your baby arrives. Play games and have some fun! Check out some great baby shower party games on bubhub