Cravings, cravings, cravings! Pregnancy can cause lots of different food cravings as well as some food aversions. Some of the most common cravings among pregnant women are ice, milk, pickles, sour candies, ice cream, and chocolate. Today, we’re talking all about sugar cravings and how to better control them. There are some theories on why food cravings happen. But most of them can’t be fully explained. That said, we do know it can be hard to resist powerful cravings when you’re pregnant, you are certainly not alone!
Sugar is a really typical craving among pregnant women and can be strongest in the first trimester. When those sugar cravings hit, most of the time using “willpower” to avoid sugary snacks does not work. But, it’s important to keep in mind the potential side-effects of indulging in too many of those sugar cravings. Overdoing foods high in added sugar can cause unnecessary weight gain, nutrient deficiencies, abnormal blood glucose levels, and could even contribute to the development of gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
There is no “set limit” of how much added sugar we should limit ourselves to during pregnancy. However, the NHS recommends adults consume no more than 30 grams of sugar each day and the American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams per day for adult women.
Indulging in sweet treats on occasion is totally fine. But if you feel it is getting out of hand, reach out to an expert for help identifying the underlying cause. As an expectant mother, your body needs a well-rounded diet that makes you feel good! Below are some effective tips on how you can manage sugar cravings from overpowering your body’s need for healthy and nutritious food.
How To Control Sugar Cravings During Pregnancy
Make an Alternative
You probably knew this was coming. When those sugar cravings hit, try to satisfy your taste buds with a healthier alternative. You might think you’re craving something like cookies or brownies. But really your body just wants some sugar. Instead of dessert, try some healthy sweets for pregnancy like a scoop of peanut butter, mixed fruit, or sweet-flavored yogurt. You can also try out one (or many!) of these great snack ideas for pregnant women. Of course, the healthier alternative doesn’t always work, in this case, skip to tip 7.
Don’t Skip Breakfast
To help curb sugar cravings, don’t skip breakfast, or any meal for that matter. Sometimes, a drop in blood sugar can lead to a sugar craving. Expectant mothers should be eating at least 3 healthy meals a day. And some additional snacks to support a growing body and baby. Eating several small meals throughout the day can help keep your blood sugar at a healthy level, keep you feeling full, and ultimately, curb those cravings. Eating breakfast is especially important when pregnant. So for some inspiration, here are some healthy breakfast ideas for pregnant women.
Stay on Top of Your Hydration
Hydration is crucial during pregnancy, and if you aren’t properly hydrated, you may run into all kinds of issues like fatigue, headaches, cramps, and cravings. Drinking lots of water should be a top priority during this time. Fluids keep our body energized, healthy, and happy. When you prioritize staying hydrated and protein intake (see next tip), albeit you may have to make more bathroom trips, your sugar cravings will lessen. If you’re worried about your water intake, check out our blog about how much water you should drink per day during pregnancy.
Increase your Protein Intake
While protein can be tough in the first trimester when nausea and food aversions are heightened, ensuring you are trying your best to work in protein sources is key. Not only for managing sugar cravings, but also, to help keep you full and actually build your baby! Combining carbohydrates with protein, in general, is key to keeping your blood sugars in a healthy range which is important for all pregnant people. Without enough protein in each meal or snack you eat, your blood sugars will rise faster causing you to potentially crave sugar, you will likely be hungry soon after you eat without enough protein.
Get Plenty of Exercise
Did you know food isn’t the only thing that contributes to healthy blood sugar control? Movement and stress do too! Doing a form of pregnancy-safe physical activity every day is beneficial in many ways during pregnancy, and one of those is keeping sugar cravings at bay. Working out while pregnant can also help boost your mood, strengthen your body for birth, reduce weight gain, and reduce swelling. Yoga, pilates, walking, cycling, dancing, etc. are all fun ways to get exercise during pregnancy. Just remember to find something you actually enjoy doing and always check with your doctor before performing any strenuous exercises!
Reach Out to a Support Group
There is absolutely no shame in reaching out to a support group for support, guidance, and encouragement such as The Prenatal Nutrition Library. Sugar cravings are extremely common among pregnant women, so it’s a sure bet someone else is struggling with this issue currently or has in the past trimester. It’s worth reaching out to see if they can offer some advice on how they overcame their various food cravings, The Prenatal Nutrition Library even offers support from a prenatal registered dietitian. Remember, you’re not in this alone – there are resources available!
Eat the Food you are Craving
Sometimes it is actually best to eat the food you are craving and move on! Most occasional cravings are totally harmless during pregnancy. Go ahead and treat yourself to whatever sweet treat you’ve been craving – you deserve it! Just remember that moderation is everything! Many times when we avoid our cravings and opt for the alternative, we just end up eating the actual craving later and to a larger extent.
Eating the food you are craving from the get-go can prevent this over-indulgence, and boost your mood. You may even find that the craving you had wasn’t all that good anyway once you take a bite. If this is the case, there’s no need to finish it, just throw it out and get along with your day!
How Do You Control Your Sugar Cravings During Pregnancy?
Here at The Prenatal Nutritionist, we know those sugar cravings happen and do not expect you to avoid sugar completely. Those cravings can be super powerful, but with a healthy, balanced diet you will be able to nail the moderation aspect of eating during pregnancy. Just remember, you’re not alone! You’re not the first and you certainly won’t be the last pregnant woman that has to deal with this issue.
There is no reason to feel guilty about indulging here and there, you are growing a baby after all. Try the tips above if you feel like your sugar cravings are out of control. And, if you are looking to take the guesswork out of eating during pregnancy, check out The Prenatal Nutrition Library. The library has a meal plan for each stage of your pregnancy plus a plan for gestational diabetes if you find yourself in that situation.