Managing Major Sugar Cravings During Pregnancy
You are early into your pregnancy and suddenly cannot resist the urge to devour a slab of white bread, thickly smeared with peanut butter and decked with powdered sugar on top, while holding a jar of chocolate spread on the other hand.
The odd thing is, during pre-pregnancy days, you did not fancy eating peanut butter at all; you probably sighed at the sight of it and even loathed it (like I did).
Been in similar or are you currently experiencing a pregnancy craving situation in full swing like this?
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Guess what?! Cravings during pregnancy are normal and will not harm the fetus.
In fact, cravings happen may be due to the rapidly changing hormones during pregnancy as they may drive the crazy longings of mysterious food or eclectic pairings of food that you might never dream of eating before, such as a bowl of vanilla ice cream with Muruku as toppings, perhaps?
However, what if you are pregnant and have a sweet tooth? Is craving for something sweet good during pregnancy? Is it OK to give in to your sugary pregnancy cravings?
As pregnancy progresses to the second trimester, did you know that your doctor would usually order a glucose screening to confirm or detect the possible risk of a gestational diabetes diagnosis?
I remember a blood sample was taken after an overnight fasting and I had to gulp a glucose solution (which was not exactly pleasant to savour) before a blood sample was taken from a vein in my arm again after two hours. If the result comes back positive, your gynae would have to closely monitor you for the rest of your pregnancy.
Excessive Sugar Intake and Its Effects during Pregnancy
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Pregnant or not, sweets and sugary foods are indeed a type of worldly temptation that is hard to give up. Occasionally, taking comfort in sugary treats is not a sin and moderation is still the key in indulging in sweets.
If you are a mum-to-be, though, you need to be more concerned about your sugar intake and know when to put the brakes on it before reaching for a second helping of your bubble tea or chocolate cake.
Eating ungodly amount of sugar can lead to some adverse health effects on both expecting mum and unborn child, such as the following:
1. Excessive weight gain
Overconsumption of added sugar increases the risk of excessive weight gain in a pregnant woman. Gaining too much weight during pregnancy may pose some health risks on mum and fetus, including gestational diabetes mellitus, postpartum excess weight retention, small or extra-large child – to name a few.
2. Gestational diabetes mellitus
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. Blood sugar that is not well controlled in a woman with gestational diabetes may lead to problems, such as an extra-large child, increased need for C-section delivery, and pre-eclampsia.
This said; it is very important to control the level of blood sugar while you are pregnant by maintaining a balanced diet.
Even if you do not suffer from gestational diabetes, going overboard on your sugar consumption daily can increase the risk of developing pre-eclampsia – high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy complication, marked by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine, and one of the common causes of morbidity and mortality among both pregnant women and their fetuses.
4. Premature delivery
Sugar, especially sugary drinks or desserts, consumed in excessive quantities during pregnancy is associated with higher risks of preterm delivery. Children born prematurely may encounter certain short-term and long-term health problems.
5. Child with higher birth weight
The higher the mum’s intake of sweets and soft drinks, which are high in sugar, the greater the chance of delivering a child with higher birth weight. If the child is born weighing 4 kg and above, he is considered as an extra-large child, which increases his risk of experiencing childhood obesity.
6. Poor childhood cognitive skills
A pregnant mum’s sugar intake may impact a child’s cognition. Research found that sugar consumption during pregnancy was likely to result in children with poorer visual memory and verbal and non-verbal (eg. thinking and problem-solving skills) abilities in mid-childhood. This is why aside from following a healthy lifestyle, keeping your sugar intake at minimum when you have a little one on the way is very important.
7. Risk of allergies in children
A 2017 study from the Queen Mary University of London revealed that mums’ sugar intake was associated with an increased risk of their kids developing allergies and asthma.
8. Childhood obesity
Children are more likely to develop childhood obesity if their mums consume high sugar intake during pregnancy.
Also, the changing flavours of the amniotic fluid caused by mum’s diet are likely detected by her child in utero and may help program the fetus’s flavour preferences. This transfer of flavours from mum to the fetus can continue after birth.
If you binge on sugar too much during pregnancy, your fetus’ taste buds may be affected and he may also develop a sweet tooth once he grows up. Once grown, your child may excessively crave for sugary foods and increase their risks for diabetes and obesity.
The Recommended Sugar Intake During Pregnancy: How Much is Too Much?
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Eating a well-balanced diet during pregnancy is essential to support optimal growth and development of the fetus, as well as to accommodate the physiological changes that occur in expectant mums.
While it is important to eat well when you are expecting, it is perfectly fine to indulge in your favourite food or cravings, sweet treats included, once in a while – without guilt.
WHO and Malaysian Dietary Guidelines strongly recommend to reduce free/added sugars intake to less than 10% of total energy intake. Therefore, pregnant women should have no more than 50 g–60 g of free sugar a day, which is roughly equivalent to 9–11 teaspoons of sugar.
For instance, a glass of bubble milk tea may contain up to 20.5 teaspoons of sugar, which is more than the daily allowance.
Therefore, make sure you adopt a better approach when it comes to adding sugar into your pregnancy diet and whenever possible, replace them with naturally sweet and nutritious alternatives.
How to Manage Your Sugar Cravings during Pregnancy
As a mum who had been pregnant a few times before, I know that fighting major sugar cravings during pregnancy is not easy but it is doable. Here are some practical tips to curb your sugar cravings during pregnancy:
1. Eat small and eat often
The drops in your blood sugar level can trigger food cravings. To avoid a sudden crave for sweet food that may lead to undesired excessive sugar intake, try to eat smaller meals and more often (every 3–4 hours or so) throughout the day.
2. Add protein into your diet
While protein is essential for your fetus’ optimal growth and development, it also helps to balance your blood sugar.
As such, add protein-rich food like eggs, fish, poultry, meat, milk, nuts, and beans, to your diet to keep tabs on your blood sugar level.
3. Consume a variety of food and grab more fruits
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Aim to eat a varied diet of whole foods from all food groups when you are pregnant. Do not go grocery shopping when you are hungry and make an attempt to keep healthy food and less junk food in your fridge or pantry.
Every time you have a hankering for something sweet, try to reach for a bowl of fresh fruits, instead of gobbling up a pack of sugar-loaded cookies.
4. Give in but watch the size
Sometimes you just have to have that bite of milk chocolate or ice cream. Cannot resist it? Just eat it… but remember to mind the portion size.
5. Swap your high sugar drinks with better choices
Sugary drinks are high in sugar, calories, and generally, not nutritional for your growing fetus. When you crave for sweet drinks, try to substitute them with yoghurt, honey tea, freshly squeezed fruit juice, or pre-natal milk, such as Anmum™ Materna, which is the only plain-flavoured pre-natal milk with no added sugars**.
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No Added Sugars Pre-Natal Milk
Anmum™ Materna, the No. 1* Pre-natal Milk in Malaysia, is specially formulated to support the pregnancy nutritional needs of you and your developing fetus. It has no added sugars**, is low in GI (glycemic index), and low in fat too.
*No. 1* in value in Total Peninsular Malaysia in Health Food Drinks Category | *Based on Retail Index Service for Health Food Drinks category for the 12 months ending April 2021 in Total Peninsular Malaysia (Copyright © 2021, The Nielsen Company (M) Sdn Bhd) | **Sucrose, Glucose Syrup Solid, Corn Syrup Solid, Brown Sugar, Dextrose, Lactose, Fructose, Honey and White Sugar are defined as ‘sugars’ and ‘added sugars’ under CODEX Standard 212-1999 and CAC/GL23-1997. CODEX develops harmonised international food standards guidelines and code of practices. Under Malaysia Food Regulations 1985, Sucrose, Brown Sugar, Dextrose, Glucose, Fructose, Honey are defined as sweetening substances. For Anmum™ MATERNA Plain only. Anmum™ MATERNA Chocolate flavour is less sweet.
Incorporating pre-natal milk as part of your balanced pregnancy diet, combined with a regular exercise, will help you to maintain optimal pregnancy weight gain. So, do not forget to try Anmum™ MATERNA now!
Nutrition in Every Glass
Each trimester requires different nutrients to support the different levels of developments of the foetus. Hence, it is crucial to drink pre-natal milk regularly or continuously from the first trimester to the third trimester.
Did you know that the calcium content of two glasses of Anmum™ MATERNA = four glasses of fresh milk?
^For Folic Acid, Calcium, Zinc, Vitamin B2 and Vitamin E, with 2 glasses per day (RNI Malaysia, 2017)
#2 glasses of whole milk, USDA Food Composition Database
To ensure you get the calcium that is required during pregnancy, drinking just two glasses of Anmum™ MATERNA per day will give you 100% of calcium and folic acid your body needs during pregnancy.
Not to mention, Anmum™ MATERNA milk also contains DHA, zinc, iron, prebiotic, probiotic, and other key vitamins, which are important to support a smooth pregnancy journey.
**Sucrose, Glucose Syrup Solid, Corn Syrup Solid, Brown Sugar, Dextrose, Lactose, Fructose, Honey and White Sugar are defined as ‘sugars’ and ‘added sugars’ under CODEX Standard 212-1999 and CAC/GL23-1997. CODEX develops harmonised international food standards guidelines and code of practices. Under Malaysia Food Regulations 1985, Sucrose, Brown Sugar, Dextrose, Glucose, Fructose, Honey are defined as sweetening substances. For Anmum™ MATERNA Plain only. Anmum™ MATERNA Chocolate flavour is less sweet.
With your current hectic lifestyle, it may be difficult to get the required nutrients you need when you are pregnant. Therefore, make sure you add Anmum™ MATERNA milk to your daily diet to support your pregnancy nutritional needs without worry in a convenient way.
If you are not certain about your pregnancy diet and would like to limit your sugar consumption during pregnancy or have questions on the type of milk that suits you best, it is always best to consult with your doctor for better assessment and advice.
TRY ANMUM™ MATERNA NOW
After reading the above, are you keen to eat better and experience the goodness of Anmum™ MATERNA? If so, request for your FREE sample of Anmum™ MATERNA here! It also available now at Lotus with a new 350g trial pack, only at RM25.90. Buy here today!
^For Folic Acid, Calcium, Zinc, Vitamin B2 and Vitamin E, with 2 glasses per day (RNI Malaysia, 2017) | No 1* in value in Total Peninsular Malaysia in Health Food Drinks Category. | *Based on Retail Index Service for Health Food Drinks Category for the 12 months ending April 2021 in Total Peninsular Malaysia (Copyright© 2021, The Nielsen Company (M) Sdn Bhd) | **Sucrose, Glucose Syrup Solid, Corn Syrup Solid, Brown Sugar, Dextrose, Lactose, Fructose, Honey and White Sugar are defined as ‘sugars’ and ‘added sugars’ under CODEX Standard 212-1999 and CAC/GL23-1997. CODEX develops harmonised international food standards guidelines and code of practices. Under Malaysia Food Regulations 1985, Sucrose, Brown Sugar, Dextrose, Glucose, Fructose, Honey are defined as sweetening substances. For Anmum™ MATERNA Plain only. Anmum™ MATERNA Chocolate flavour is less sweet.
- Healthline. 2020. When Will I Start To Have Pregnancy Cravings?. [online] Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/when-do-cravings-start#TOC_TITLE_HDR_1> [Accessed 7 October 2020].
- Maslova et al. (2015).BMJ Open. 5:e005839. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/bmjopen/5/2/e005839.full.pdf
- WHO (2016). Good maternal nutrition, the best start in life. https://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/313667/Good-maternal-nutrition-The-best-start-in-life.pdf
- Baker, L. C. (2016, September 15). Can You Prevent Gestational Diabetes? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/preventing-gestational-diabetes
- Gestational Diabetes and Pregnancy | CDC. (2020, July 14). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/diabetes-gestational.html
- Borgen, I. (2012, June 20). Maternal sugar consumption and risk of preeclampsia in nulliparous Norwegian women. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. https://www.nature.com/articles/ejcn201261?error=cookies_not_supported&code=36e48183-9fab-4289-b771-9e7c3b24a286
- Englund-Ögge et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012; 96: 552-559. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/230598769_Association_between_intake_of_artificially_sweetened_and_sugar-sweetened_beverages_and_preterm_delivery_A_large_prospective_cohort_study
- Phelan S et al. Experimental Diabetes Research. 2011; 985139:1-9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22110475/ / /
- Cohen et al. (2018). American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 54 (6), 727-735. https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(18)31606-4/fulltext
- Sci (2017). Sugar intake during pregnancy is associated with allergy and allergic asthma in children. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170705211904.htm
- Goran et al. (2019). Effects of consuming sugars and alternative sweeteners during pregnancy on maternal and child health:evidence for a secondhand sugar effect.https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society/article/effects-of-consuming-sugars-and-alternative-sweeteners-during-pregnancy-on-maternal-and-child-health-evidence-for-a-secondhand-sugar-effect/2F31AE3E8099B7989ABB69F4E1EB97F5/core-reader
- Beckett, E. (2015, January 5). Passing on taste: how your mum’s diet affects what you eat. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/passing-on-taste-how-your-mums-diet-affects-what-you-eat-35550
- MyHealth.(2014). Facts about sugar. http://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/facts-about-sugar/#:~:text=This%20total%20amount%20of%20added,of%20not%20more%20than%2050g
Source from Motherhood: