We all know that excess amounts of sugar in our diet is bad. During pregnancy this can lead to increased weight gain (for you) as well as increased birth weight. If a baby grows too large, which is known as macrosomia, it can lead to additional complications during labor and delivery. While you're breast feeding, excessive amounts of sugar can also lead to spikes in your child's blood sugar levels and an increased risk of tooth decay and thrush.
Overall the goal should be to keep everything in moderation. You don't need to cut out sugar completely, as glucose is still needed by your body and your baby for energy and other functions, but you should make healthier choices when sweet tooth cravings arise.
Here are some suggestions:
Have a piece of fruit.
The natural sugars found in fruits plus the additional benefits of fiber and other vitamins and minerals make these sweet treats a wonderful alternative to baked sweets and candy.
Use natural sugars not refined sugars.
Honey, raw agave and molasses are all natural sweeteners that are much healthier for you than their refined counter parts. In addition, these natural options are much sweeter than granulated sugar, so less is required. Try adding honey or molasses to your oatmeal in the morning. If you're baking, try a combination of unsweetened apple sauce and raw agave to add sweetness to your recipe.
Avoid sodas and limit your juice intake.
A majority of the sugar we consume comes from sugary drinks. Try substituting them with a ginger tea or a glass of water with a squeeze of lemon. If soda is part of your daily regiment, try kicking the habit with a soda alternative. If it's juice you crave, try combining a half a glass of juice with half a glass of water. While you're pregnant or nursing keeping hydrated is essential, so anytime you can add more water into your drink diet is a good thing.
Make good choices - read the ingredients label.
Always read the nutrition label and the ingredient list on any processed foods to look for hidden sugars. These include ingredients like corn sweetener, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose and anything ending in "-ose." Naturally occurring sugars like fructose, found in fruit, and lactose, found in milk, should not be of major concern. Also remember that food ingredients are listed by weight, so try and stay away from foods that have sugar listed in the first 3/4 of the ingredients list. These include many cereals and snack bars so be on the look out. You may also want to read our three simple tips on reading an ingredients label.
Reducing your sugar intake does not mean adding artificial sweeteners to your diet. These include ingredients like Rebaudioside A (Stevia), Acesulfame Potassium (Sunett), Aspartame (Equal or NutraSweet), or Sucralose (Splenda). We highly recommend sticking to natural, whole food options. If you do choose to use an artificial sweetener it is suggested that you talk with your physician on what sweeteners you are using and how much you are consuming.