10 Best Gestational Diabetes Desserts

Dietary changes can largely control gestational diabetes. Thankfully, some delicious dessert options can stay on the menu during pregnancy….(continue reading)

Gestational diabetes is a metabolic condition that can develop during pregnancy. 

If not monitored carefully, it can lead to many complications. The first line of defense in combating the effects of gestational diabetes begins in the kitchen. 

In many cases, modifications to diet offer some easy ways to help keep blood sugar levels under control during pregnancy. Here’s the good news: desserts can stay on the menu.

This article looks at some of the best diabetes-friendly dessert options for those with gestational diabetes

What Is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that can occur during pregnancy in those who don’t have a previous medical history of diabetes. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gestational diabetes affects two to five percent of pregnancies in the United States annually. This metabolic condition occurs when pregnant women cannot produce enough insulin to control their blood sugar

What Causes Gestational Diabetes?

While the final verdict is still out on the exact cause of gestational diabetes, most point to the numerous hormonal changes that occur during the different stages of pregnancy. Many believe it may be linked to the overproduction of hormones by the placenta. 

Under normal conditions, the body breaks down (metabolizes) foods like carbohydrates to utilize as energy for the cells through glucose. But there can be too much of a good thing. 

When blood sugar levels get too high in the bloodstream, the pancreas releases insulin to help lower and control the blood glucose levels. It also helps push glucose into the cells. High blood sugar is also called hyperglycemia. 

In the case of diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or does not use it properly. This is known as insulin resistance

Risk factors for gestational diabetes

While any woman can develop gestational diabetes throughout pregnancy, some common risk factors for gestational diabetes include:

  • 25 years of age or older 
  • Overweight or obese
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Diagnosed with prediabetes
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Can I Manage Gestational Diabetes With Diet?

Dietary changes are one of the first steps in managing gestational diabetes. Modifying diet could help keep blood sugar levels within normal ranges. According to most dietary recommendations for gestational diabetes, carbohydrates are the first item to monitor. 

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Most carbohydrates (and sugars) are metabolized in the body to be used as glucose — too many carbs can send blood sugar levels sky high. Carbs are in fruit, grains, starchy vegetables, and more. They’re also found in sweet treats and sugary drinks. 

One of the first dietary changes most healthcare professionals and dietitians recommend when combating gestational diabetes is low-carb meal plans

Other dietary recommendations include: 

  • Choosing complex carbs. These are found in whole grains, cereals, and vegetables. They turn to glucose much slower than simple carbs and sugar, thanks to high fiber counts.
  • Saying no to artificial sweeteners. This includes artificial sweeteners that contain aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame. These can raise glucose levels the same as added sugars. 
Optimizing diet for diabetes during pregnancy, part 1: Getting Started | Ohio State Medical Center

Ohio State Wexner Medical Center

10 Best Desserts for Those With Gestational Diabetes

Low-carb desserts are the focus when it comes to gestational diabetes. These dessert recipes focus on low-sugar treats that won’t cause huge spikes in blood sugar. Let’s look at some of the best gestational diabetes-friendly and healthy dessert options you can try.

1. Raspberry Pumpkin Muffins

Muffins make great low-fat and low-carb dessert treats for those morning cravings. The pumpkin puree, stevia, and frozen raspberries give you all the natural sweetness you need. Plus, coconut oil can be used as a good fat option to replace vegetable oils. 

Ingredients and Instruction

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 ½ cup frozen raspberries
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg 
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup Stevia
  • 3 tbsp tapioca starch
  • 1 tbsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Stir in coconut flour, stevia, tapioca starch, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt. Next, stir in the egg yolks, pumpkin puree, coconut oil, and vanilla. Add beaten egg whites and raspberries to the batter. Mix well. Bake the muffins for 25 mins.

2. Strawberry Lemonade Popsicles

For those looking for a treat to help cool you off in the summer heat, strawberry lemonade popsicles are an easy choice. The good news is that popsicles need not be cold sugar sticks.

Ingredients and Instruction

These sugar-free treats only have five ingredients: Oats, low-fat cottage cheese, lemon juice, strawberries, and stevia. These popsicles have less than eight grams of sugar.

Simply blend the ingredients and pour them into popsicle molds. Freeze for three hours and enjoy.

3. Keto-Friendly Brownies

Next in line in the favorite dessert hierarchy after chocolate chip cookies are brownies. Brownies are a staple when it comes to dessert treats. Thankfully, there are many ways to make low-carb brownies. 

Sugar-free chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, and cocoa powder provide the chocolate taste without the sugar spike. Many people opt to use zucchini to provide a healthy touch of sweetness. Plus, you can utilize the healthy fats in Greek yogurt to help keep brownies moist. 

Ingredients and Instruction

  • ½ water
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup coconut powder
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp flax powder
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup sugar-free chocolate chips
  • ½ cup Stevia
  • ¼  tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Whisk water, oil, yogurt, vanilla, and flax powder. Once thick, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Spread into a baking pan and bake for 15 to 18 mins.

4. Peanut Butter Cookies

Try peanut butter cookies if you’re looking for a low-carb cookie option. There are plenty of diabetes-friendly recipes available to help curb cookie cravings. 

Ingredients and Instruction

Plus, you don’t need much in the way of ingredients: Smooth peanut butter, eggs, vanilla extract, baking soda, and a sugar substitute like natural erythritol is all you need. 

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Add and mix all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Roll dough into 2 tbsp sized balls. Place on a cookie tray, flatten with a fork and bake for 12 to 15 mins. Yum!

5. Keto Ginger Snap Cookies

If peanut butter isn’t your thing, you could spice things up with ginger snaps. These make a thin, crispy treat for those looking for less sweet and more spice. 

You still use ginger and cinnamon as the base spices, but the sugar substitute is up to you. Many people opt to use natural sweeteners like stevia. 

Ingredients and Instruction

  • 2 oz unsalted butter
  • 2 oz Sukrin Gold
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 ½ oz almond flour
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • ½  tsp cinnamon
  • ½  tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 355 F. Add and mix all ingredients into a soft dough. Roll into balls and press into cookie size of choice. Bake for 18 to 25 mins until brown around the edges

6. Avocado and Banana Smoothie

While it may not sound like a traditional dessert option, this smoothie has plenty of natural sweetness to satisfy most sweet tooths. Plus, it can be made dairy-free with the substitution of almond milk. 

Some opt to add nutritious additions, such as spinach or flax seed. All in all, this makes a great low-carb summer dessert option. 

Ingredients and Instruction

It’s simple: Add one avocado, one banana (fresh or frozen), milk of choice, any extras, and ice. Blend and enjoy.

7. Keto-Friendly Fudges

Aside from cupcakes and cookies, fudge makes a great centerpiece for any dessert table. Thankfully, there are some low-carb fudge options. Minimal ingredients are required. 

A stick of salted butter, some unsweetened dark cocoa powder, your favorite natural sweetener, and some dark chocolate chips are all you need. Oh, and some sea salt for the garnish. 

Ingredients and Instruction

  • 1 stick of salted butter
  • 1 ¼ cups of (keto) chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp Swerve Confectioners 
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • Coarse salt for garnish

Melt butter and chocolate chips. Stir well until mixed. Sift and mix in the cocoa powder and confectioners into the bowl. Pour onto the baking pan evenly. Refrigerate for at least an hour. 

8. Low-Carb Chia Pudding

Chia puddings make another great breakfast or dessert option for those with gestational diabetes looking to cut out the carbs. Most recipes are simple. 

Ingredients and Instruction

Aside from chia seeds, many people blend in almond milk, their favorite keto-friendly sweetener, and their favorite nuts or berries. Dark chocolate chips make another great addition. 

9. Try a Low-Carb Ice Cream

Ice cream is another dessert staple. Thankfully, there are plenty of keto-friendly and low-carb ice cream options out there these days, from low-fat to full-fat dairy options to dairy alternatives. 

The only trick is avoiding the ones that use artificial sweeteners. Find a brand that utilizes natural sweeteners and has low net carbs. 

10. Low-Carb and Keto-Friendly Cheesecake Recipe

Can a low-carb, gluten-free cheesecake really taste good? The answer is yes. With a few ingredient substitutions, you can have your cake and eat it too. This sugar-free treat only has eight ingredients and takes about 10 minutes to prep. 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

Ingredients:

⅓ cup of unsalted Butter (crust)

2 cups of almond flour (crust)

1 tsp vanilla extract (crust)

2 tbsp of granulated or powdered monk fruit allulose blend (crust)

1 ¼ cups of granulated or powdered monk fruit allulose blend (filling)

3 large eggs (filling)

1 tbsp lemon juice 

1 tsp vanilla extract (filling)

32 oz of cream cheese (filling)

Instructions for the crust: Mix all crust ingredients in a medium bowl until doughy and slightly crumbly. Put the dough in a springform pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes; it must be slightly golden. Let sit for 10 minutes. 

Instructions for the filling: Beat the powdered sweetener with cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in the eggs (one at a time), lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Low to medium speeds work best. 

Putting it together: After you pour the filling into the pan with the crust, smooth out the top and ensure you don’t have trapped air bubbles. Bake for roughly 40 to 50 minutes until the center is nearly set. It should be a bit jiggly. 

Once removed, let it cool at room temperature and then chill in the refrigerator for four hours (or longer) until the cheesecake is completely set. Final step: serve it up. 

Nutrition Facts: The serving size for this recipe is one slice, roughly 1/16 of the cheesecake. 

  • Calories; 325
  • Carbohydrates; 6g
  • Fat; 31g
  • Protein; 7 g
  • Sugar; 2g

The Bottom Line

A gestational diabetes diagnosis typically means a change in diet is on the horizon. Thankfully, that doesn’t always mean all the sweets need to go.

While low carbs and limited sugar are the dietary plans most nutritionists recommend, there are plenty of low-carb, sugar-free dessert options.

If you have questions about gestational diabetes, reach out to your healthcare provider for medical advice before making any drastic changes in your diet. 

References, Studies and Sources:

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Gestational Diabetes | CDC

Insulin Resistance & Prediabetes | NIDDK

Dietary Recommendations for Gestational Diabetes | UCSF Health

Fact Checked and Editorial Process

Diabetic.org is devoted to producing expert and accurate articles and information for our readers by hiring experts, journalists, medical professionals, and our growing Diabetic.org community. We encourage you to read more about our content, editing, and fact checking methods here. This was fact checked by Camille Freking and medically reviewed by Dr. Angel Rivera.

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