Although it is a common heard guideline to a healthy lifestyle, especially when you are pregnant, it is strongly advised to reduce your sugar intake. Not only does it provide calories without offering your body any nutrients, leading to excessive and ‘useless’ weight gain, it can also lead to pregnancy diabetes (gestational diabetes). Especially refined, white, sugars found in the obvious sweet delights as cakes, muffins, chocolates, cookies and ice cream to name a few are best avoided.
But sugars are found in many products, even where you will least expect them. Canned and packaged soups for example or mayonnaise, dressings, dips, pasta sauces as well as other kind of sauces, ketchup, breakfast cereals, (fruit)yogurts, flavored almond milk. Even pickles, sauerkraut and canned vegetables are sweetened in one way or the other. Check the ingredients of the products in your fridge or pantry and you’ll be surprised in how many products sugars have sneaked their way in, even if you think you are a healthy eater – like me.
Not always are the sweeteners in foods simply labeled as ‘sugar’, but as corn syrup or sucrose. Another name, but still as sweet and harmful as refined sugar. Besides that natural sweeteners have made their entry, especially into natural whole foods. Although natural sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, fruit juices and agave (although the latter is disputable) provide other health benefits or nutrients besides just being sweet, they still count as an additional sweetener that is not necessary in a balanced diet. Hopefully it goes without saying that artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol found in processed founds, diet sodas and as a low calorie sugar alternative should be avoided by pregnant women (and their families).
When you are eating a healthy and balanced daily diet, you probably already have a sufficient intake of sugars through other natural sources like fruit (fructose), milk (lactose) and maltose (starches/yeast). A daily intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole wheat carbohydrates like whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta or brown rice, lentils and beans, nuts and seeds, yogurt and (almond)milk should provide enough nutrients for you and your baby. And although I wonder if you have any desire to satisfy your sweet tooth with a complete diet like this, a treat now and then won’t do any harm.