How to Eat Dates with a Gestational Diabetes Pregnancy

How to eat dates at the end of your pregnancy if you have gestational diabetes plus alternatives to help labor besides dates.

Eating Dates with a Gestational Diabetes Pregnancy

Ginger Cochran, MS, RDN, CDCES, CEP-ACSM

showing dates in a cup for pregnancy

As the delivery countdown begins, the question, “Can I eat dates with gestational diabetes,” comes up frequently.  The simple answer is “maybe.” Like your pregnancy journey, whether you can tolerate dates at the end of pregnancy is purely individual. In this blog, I’m, diving into the research on dates and delivery, plus how to eat dates if you have gestational diabetes.

The Science Behind Dates and Labor Progression:

Several studies have explored the effects of date consumption during late pregnancy on labor outcomes. Research shows that pregnant women who consume dates in the weeks leading up to their due date may experience faster deliveries and are more likely to have an onset of spontaneous labor, reducing the need for induction. (1)

Dates contain certain compounds that may interact with the body to help the delivery process. One compound is oxytocin, often called the “love hormone.” Oxytocin is important in starting and strengthening contractions, aiding cervical dilation and effacement. (2) Oxytocin receptors make uterine muscles respond better to oxytocin, resulting in more effective uterine contractions. Studies show that women who consume dates may have more oxytocin than women who do not eat dates. (3)

Eating Dates with Gestational Diabetes

Eating dates while managing a gestational diabetes diet can be tricky. Research studies recommend eating 6 Medjool dates to get the benefits of date for labor benefits. Whether you tolerate dates depends on your sensitivity to carbohydrates. 

If, during your gestational diabetes diet journey, you found that you were incredibly sensitive to refined (low fiber) carbohydrates like fruit, cereal, and fries, it may be a little more complicated. If you can tolerate those foods as long as you eat protein or healthy fat with them, it may be a little easier to eat dates when you have gestational diabetes.

Below is the breakdown of nutrients in a Medjool date (4)

  • 66.5 of calories
  • 18 grams of carbohydrates
  • 16 g of sugars 
  • 1.6 g of fiber
  • 0.4 g of protein

As you can see from the chart, each date contains 18g of carbs that mostly come from sugar. This means dates are incredibly easy to digest and can quickly spike blood sugars. 

It’s crucial to pair dates with enough healthy fat and protein and cut the portion. I recommend eating only half a date at a time if you have gestational diabetes and pairing it with one tablespoon of nut butter like almond butter or natural peanut butter. 

You can enjoy dates with gestational diabetes as a snack or use it as one of your carb options at a meal containing protein.

1-Day Gestational Diabetes Diet with Meal Plan Dates

peanut butter stuffed dates on a white plate

Breakfast: eat 2 eggs and ½ avocado with ½ date and a piece of high-fiber toast 

Snack: 1 date with 2 tablespoons peanut butter

Lunch: Cobb salad with chicken, cheddar cheese, bacon, avocado, hardboiled egg, lettuce, tomato, onion, with Greek yogurt ranch dressing, 2 dates

Exercise: Walk for 30 minutes as approved by the doctor

Snack: 1 date, 20 almonds, and one ounce of cheese

Dinner: green beans, salmon, one small potato with butter and sour cream, plus one date

Nighttime snack: tuna with flaxseed crackers and ½ date

Other Options to Help Labor Besides Dates for Gestational Diabetes Pregnancy

  • Get a prenatal massage.
    • Research shows women who get prenatal massage therapy experience less pain, and labor is, on average, 3 hours shorter with less need for medication. (5)
  • Have sex
    • Sperm contains prostaglandins- hormones that can help thin and dilate the cervix to get ready for delivery. (6)
  • Take an evening primrose capsule.
    • Research supports inserting evening primrose capitals intravaginally to help ripen the cervix in preparation for labor. (7)
  • Walk daily outside of daily activities.
    • Go on an organized walk daily. Walking may help draw the baby down your pelvis, and the pressure of the baby on your pelvis may help labor progress. (8)
  • Drink red raspberry tea.
    • The research isn’t as strong for drinking red raspberry to help induce labor. However, many midwives and obstetricians actively recommend it. (9)
  • Stimulate your nipples
    • Massaging or twisting your nipples can cause your body to release the hormone oxytocin, which brings contractions. (10)

Bottomline

Dates are to help with labor when with gestational diabetes, but it’s not the only thing that can help promote a smoother delivery. Try the non-food tips below if you’re sensitive to dates. If you tolerate dates with gestational pregnancy, dive in and enjoy spreading six Medjool dates throughout the day.

If you’re still feeling lost! Don’t forget to join my Gestational Diabetes Master Course and get all the tips plus access to me for questions and answers via text message for a whole month!

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Ginger Cochran is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, functional medicine practitioner, Certified Diabetes Educator & Care Specialist, Certified Wellness Coach, Certified Exercise Physiologist, and owner of Nutritious Ginger, an integrative and functional nutrition practice focusing on full body self-care and nourishment. Ginger’s primary specialty is women’s health, with a special emphasis on gestational diabetes, weight management, infertility, digestive wellness, and overall health + happiness.
Ginger serves on the board of director for the Nutrition Care Manual by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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