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Food Groups

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Please note that this booklet presents only general guidelines for a healthy diet for women with gestational diabetes. Use the chart below to talk to your health care provider about eating. This chart is not meant to take the place of your health care provider's recommendations.

* tsp. = teaspoon           TBSP = tablespoon

Food Group Description and Tips What Are Some Foods in This Group? How Much Is One (1) Serving? *
Fats and Oils

These foods give you essential fatty acids and vitamins.

Choose a diet that is low in saturated fat, trans-fats, and cholesterol and moderate in total fat. Use vegetable oils rather than solid fats (such as those in meat or dairy foods and shortening).

  • Salad dressing
  • Butter/ margarine
  • Mayonnaise
  • Vegetable oil, canola oil, olive oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil
  • Spray vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp butter, margarine, or oil
  • 1 TBSP regular salad dressing or mayonnaise
  • 2 TBSP low-fat or light salad dressing
Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese

Milk and milk foods give you carbohydrates, proteins, and vitamins and minerals.

Choose milk, cheese, and yogurt products that are fat free or low fat (1%).

  • Milk, powdered milk, condensed milk, buttermilk
  • Lactose-free milk
  • Cheese
  • Plain yogurt
  • Frozen yogurt
  • 1 cup fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk
  • 2 ounces fat-free or low-fat cheese
  • 1 cup lactose-free milk
  • 1 cup fat-free plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup powdered, non-fat milk
Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, and Nuts

These foods provide protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Trim extra fat off meats, including the skin. Use broiling, grilling, and roasting to cook meats without adding fat or cholesterol.

  • Lean beef, poultry, pork, seafood, lamb, meat substitute
  • Eggs, egg substitute
  • Tofu
  • Peanut butter and peanuts
  • 3 ounces cooked lean meat, chicken, fish, or pork
  • 1/2 cup tofu
  • 1 egg
  • 2 TBSP peanut butter

Vegetables, either raw or cooked, give you carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are usually very low in fat, unless they are cooked with butter, margarine, salad dressing, cream sauce, or other high-fat ingredient.
  • Carrots, celery, okra, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, squashes, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers
  • Leafy vegetables: lettuce, spinach, cabbage
  • 1 cup raw vegetables
  • 1/2 cup cooked vegetables
  • 1 cup leafy, raw vegetables
  • 1/2 cup tomato or vegetable juice


Food Group Description and Tips What Are Some Foods in This Group? How Much Is One (1) Serving? *

Fruits give your body carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Choose fresh fruits, fruits canned in their own juices or in water, or frozen fruits.

  • Bananas, apples, berries, mango, plums, peaches, figs, pears, grapes, prunes
  • Citrus fruits: oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, kiwi, pineapple
  • Melons: watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew
  • 1 piece small-to-medium whole fruit (about 1/2 cup of cut pieces)
  • 1 slice of melon
  • 1/2 cup canned or fresh fruit pieces
  • 1/2 cup or 4 fl.oz. fruit juice
  • 1/2 banana
Bread, Cereal, Rice, and Pasta

This group gives your body carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Whole grain products are high in these nutrients.

Avoid high-fat or fried starchy vegetables and grain products. Use seasonings and fat-free or low-fat toppings and sauces to add flavor.

  • Bread: sandwich and dinner breads, bagels, flour tortillas, pita, rolls, pizza crust, cornbread, taco shells
  • Starchy vegetables: white or sweet potatoes
  • Legumes (peas, corn, beans)
  • Rice, noodles, pasta (spaghetti/macaroni), dry or cooked cereal, oatmeal
  • Crackers, pretzels, unbuttered popcorn, breadsticks
  • 1 slice whole grain bread
  • 1/2 bagel, English muffin, or six-inch flour tortilla
  • 1 small muffin or waffle
  • 2 pancakes
  • 5 crackers
  • 1/3 cup cooked rice
  • 1 small baked potato (plain)
  • 1/2 cup cooked cereal, pasta, mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 cup cooked beans or lentils
  • 1/2 cup sweet potatoes, yams, peas, or corn
  • 3/4 cup dry, unsweetened cereal
"Free" Foods "Free" foods are those that have less than 20 calories. You can often eat free foods without having to account for them in your meal plan.

Water is considered a "free" food; you can drink as much water as you want. In fact, most health care providers recommend that you drink a lot of water when you are pregnant.

  • Raw vegetables: cabbage (all varieties), celery, cucumber, endive, lettuces (all varieties), mushrooms,peppers, radishes, spinach
  • Drinks: sugar-free/ unsweetened and low- salt versions of broth, bouillon, consommes, mineral water, club soda.
  • Condiments-Group 1: ketchup, fat-free cream cheese, horseradish, fat-free mayonnaise, fat-free margarine, reduced-fat margarine, mustard, fat-free or reduced-fat sour cream, taco sauce; Group 2: salsa; Group 3: soy sauce, non-stick cooking spray
  • Seasonings-garlic, herbs, flavoring agents, pimento, spices (Note: ”salt” seasonings are high in sodium and should be used only in small amounts.)
  • Up to 2 cups raw vegetables
  • Drinks: 8 fluid ounces
  • 1 TBSP Group 1 condiments
  • 1/4 cup Group 2 condiments
  • Group 3 condiments—no limit
  • 2 to 3 dashes of seasonings
  • Water


Last Reviewed: 09/11/2006
Vision National Institutes of Health Home BOND National Institues of Health Home Home Storz Lab: Section on Environmental Gene Regulation Home Machner Lab: Unit on Microbial Pathogenesis Home Division of Intramural Population Health Research Home Bonifacino Lab: Section on Intracellular Protein Trafficking Home Lilly Lab: Section on Gamete Development Home Lippincott-Schwartz Lab: Section on Organelle Biology