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Pregnancy is such a fragile time even with all the excitement of having a baby soon. Your diet, your sleep patterns, and your activity have to be carefully planned and monitored so that your growing baby gets the best possible care till he enters this world. While you can manage to squeeze in light workouts, relax enough to sleep on time, diet seems to be the most challenging of all.
Even if it does seem doable to control your diet for 9 months, you’re hit by cravings that cannot be ignored! What’s a girl to do then? You may plan to have 2-3 servings of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and include enough folate to your diet but crave a big chocolate cake instead.
While it is alright to indulge once in a while, overeating sugar in pregnancy may not be good for your baby. It may put you at a risk of gestational diabetes and also could potentially cause an unhealthy affinity for sugary foods in your child at a future stage.
How much is too much though? Let’s find out everything you need to know about eating sugar during pregnancy.
What Amount Of Sugar Can Be Safely Consumed During Pregnancy
While there are no standardised recommendations for the amount of sugar to be consumed during pregnancy, it is best to consume it with caution. The amount of sugar you can safely consume during pregnancy depends on your blood sugar levels, your weight and your metabolic rate. Either way, it is best not to exceed 25 gms of sugar during pregnancy in one day.
Side Effects Of Excess Sugar Consumption
Even when not pregnant, overconsumption of sugar-rich foods and carbohydrates affect your health negatively. During pregnancy, this could affect you and also the baby adversely. Excess sugar can travel through the placenta to the baby and increases the baby’s blood sugar levels too. This will in turn lead to excess production of insulin the baby’s body and can lead to baby being born larger than normal.
Delivering a baby too large can lead to delivery issues and necessary c-sections. It could also lead to a premature birth.
Reasons To Avoid Excess Sugar During Pregnancy
We’ve already discussed the possible side effects of overconsumption of sugar in pregnancy but there are more reasons to avoid sugar in excess. Here’s what sugar during pregnancy does to you
1. It Causes Lethargy and Fatigue
Sugar and sugar laden foods provide empty calories and no nutrition. The only energy spike you may feel is from the burst of sucrose that hits your blood steam but then rapidly drops as well. This leaves you feeling lethargic and low on energy.
2. It Causes Weight Gain
The fact that excess sugar causes weight gain is a common one. During pregnancy your body naturally gains weight to support the growing baby. This natural weight gain coupled with excess sugar can lead to obesity and birth complications.
3. It Could Lead Grade 1 Fatty Liver
A pregnancy diet with a high count of sugar can lead to acute fatty liver syndrome. It can also hamper the fetus’ metabolic rate and lead to obesity in the future. It also puts the baby at a risk of type 2 diabetes in the future.
4. It Aggravates Pregnancy Symptoms
Common pregnancy symptoms like nausea, vomiting, mood swings and heartburn get even more intense when sugar is consumed in excess.
5. It Increases the Risk of Preeclampsia
The higher the sugar intake of the pregnant woman, the more the risk of preeclampsia.
6. It Can Make Your Baby Crave More Sugar
Your baby’s taste buds can permanently be affected by your overconsumption of sugar during pregnancy. Once grown, the child may excessively crave for sugary foods and this might lead to diabetes and obesity early in life.
7. It could lead to nutritional deficiency
While cravings are completely normal during pregnancy, if you crave more sweets than wholesome foods, you might suffer deficiency of actual nutrients you may need.
8. It is linked to autism
The exposure of the uterus to to high blood sugar could affect the brain development of the baby. This would increase the chances of developmental disorders.
Tips To Reduce Sugar Consumption in Pregnancy
To avoid the risk of the above mentioned complications, here are some tips to reduce sugar cravings and consumption during pregnancy:
1. Include more fruits
One way to satisfy sweet cravings is to eat sweeter fruits like mangoes, pineapples and strawberries. Try and limit fruit juices as they contain more sugar than fiber.
2. Limit processed sugar in snacks
Refined sugar needs to be avoided during pregnancy altogether. However, if you’re finding that hard to do, try and cut down on ice-creams, cakes and pastries and other dessert items that contain too much sugar.
3. Read labels on packed foods carefully
Check for the hidden sugar in packaged items that you eat like ketchup, peanut butter, cereal, etc. Pick ones that have a lower sugar content.
4. Keep junk food out of reach
Keeping junk food around the house is tempting and may cause unnecessary snacking. Buy them only when you crave them badly.
5. Ditch artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are harmful to the body in the long run so opt more kinder alternatives like honey, jaggery or palm sugar.
6. Limit if not avoid
If you cannot ditch sugar completely, limit the intake during pregnancy. Have one teaspoon instead of two with your cup of tea.
Foods That Lower Blood Sugar In Pregnant Women
In case you are mid-pregnancy and your blood sugar level are higher than normal, here are some healthy foods to include in your diet. Along with exercise, these food help lower blood pressure during pregnancy.
1. Low-glycemic foods
Whole grains , beans, barley, fruits, oats and vegetables are all low on the glycemic index. These foods take longer to digest, which prevents a sudden spike in blood sugar levels.
2. Fiber-rich Foods
Soluble fiber as found in oats and legumes improve blood sugar levels. Whole wheat foods contain insoluble fibers which maintain digestive health. Fruits and vegetables contain both types of fibers.
These stomach-friendly bacteria are great for digestive health. They maintain blood sugar levels. Dahi or yogurt is the best probiotic to consume.
4. Protein-rich foods and health fats
Poultry, eggs and nuts fall into this food group. Protein helps control blood sugar as well as keeps you more energetic and full for longer. Nuts, olive oil and avocados contain healthy fats. These also keep your full longer and keep cravings for unhealthy food at bay.
We know sugar is addictive, which is why it’s hard to quit it. This is why filling yourself up on the above mentioned foods to kick the craving. Remember, this is to ensure that your health and your baby’s health remain at its optimum.
Replace white, refined sugar with natural sugars and you should be healthy and your baby safe during pregnancy.