While some women dislike sugar during pregnancy, others crave for sugary food. Sugar is very addictive and too much is not healthy for either the mother or baby.
Eating too many sweets or processed foods during pregnancy can have an adverse impact on the growth of the baby. It can lead to unnecessary weight gain, increase in insulin and glucose levels, and nutrient deficiency in a pregnant woman, points out Dr. Monica Agarwal, Senior Consultant - Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Chandigarh.
If you have already delivered and had a normal pregnancy then you may have a small amount of sugar in your diet but if you are diagnosed with diabetes or gestational diabetes, then sugar intake is usually totally restricted.
Refined sugars like candy, cookies, cake, soft drinks have zero nutrition and empty calories. Sugar intake should be 25 gms or less per day that is 4-5 teaspoons, she says.
The expert shares some tips for pregnant woman to control sugar cravings:
Small frequent meals: This practice will ensure you maintain your blood sugar levels drop and it won't aggravate your cravings. You should eat small meals every 3-4 hours
Include protein: Sometimes protein deficiency causes sugar cravings. So add protein rich food in your diet for example eggs, black chana, soya products, low fat dairy products, nuts, beans, chicken, yogurt, sea food, legumes, dry fruits in your diet
Eat a balanced diet: Include all food groups like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc in your diet. Your plate should be healthily coloured with colourful fruit and vegetables
Increase fibre and fluid intake: These help in filling your tummy and help you feel full for long. They also ease constipation. Add oats, chia seeds, cereals, five servings of fruit and vegetables to your diet.
Replace desert with fruit: You can have a fruit or dry fruit like raisins, fig, apricot, banana, apple, small mango if you crave
Family members should also eat healthy so that you are kept inspired and don't have any temptation. Don't keep unhealthy food in your fridge.
Select a friend or family member to help keep a check on you
Keep a food journal to monitor your intake
Mindfulness: Be mindful while eating. Eat slowly, chew your food properly. If you feel like eating without hunger then go for a walk or read a book or any other activity you like
Curb emotional eating
Exercise: This is very important to keep your metabolism healthy and your blood sugar levels stable. Take a walk after each meal to digest food. Do a 30-40 minutes of exercise daily to keep things on track
Take adequate rest: You should sleep on time and for adequate hours. If you keep awake for late nights, your midnight cravings will throw your metabolism out of track. If at all you have midnight hunger go for healthy options like banana, nuts muesli etc
Healthy options to replace refined sugars : Homemade smoothie, dry fruit, naturally sweetened yogurt, muesli, fruit like banana, strawberry, apple, apricot, mango, jaggery, gurchana, probiotics, low fat and sugar dry fruit cake, fresh lime and home-made milk based sweets (sometimes). Remember that eating sugar attracts more sugar and difficult to control vicious cycle so try to break this cycle as early as possible with help of your doctor, nutritionist and family.
How then can we mindfully make good food choices?
Make a schedule or a daily meal plan. A schedule is more predictable for you and for everyone in your household.
Plan for groceries. Try to buy fewer processed, high-salt or high-sugar snacks.
Load up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins.
Skip the high-sugar soda and juices; instead flavor water with edible citrus or berries
Plan and enjoy an occasional comfort food for a weekly treat - pick a day and enjoy whatever you want, just not all your favorites on the same day!
Manage your environment. If candy is simply not in the cupboard, then you can't eat it.
Staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging for everyone, and the increased anxiety (and boredom) can cause people to abandon their healthy eating intentions and snack on whatever is around. But with a little thought and planning, you can continue to make good food choices and boost your mood and immunity.