Monday, August 30, 2010

Minimizing Sugar During Pregnancy


My midwife is kind of strict on the nutrition front. When I was preparing for conception, I looked at the sugar content of my food and tried to keep it below 20 grams for a particular item (since that's the number I had in my head from my friend's birth with my midwife a few years ago).

When I started going to my midwife, I realized the limit was not 20 grams but, instead, 3-6 grams. Gulp! What that means is that I cannot eat things like dried fruit or any type of flavored yogurt or juice. There's simply too much sugar in pretty much everything.

For the first trimester, my midwife gave me permission to eat whatever I needed, in order to get through the first trimester. At the end of my first trimester, she asked me to start filling out a food log to track my eating. The night before the log started, Matt and I were eating at a Mexican restaurant outside of Zion National Park. Unfortunately, I couldn't touch my meal. It made me way too queasy. I pushed some of the food around on my plate to make it look like I had eaten something (who knows why I felt so guilty for not eating something I paid for!). I then informed Matt that we needed to order dessert because I was going to be completely starving if I didn't eat something. I took a few bites of the erupting brownie sundae but then set down my fork, not wanting to binge on sugar simply because my food logging wasn't going to start until the next day.

That was pretty much the last bit I've sugar I've eaten this entire month. I feel so proud of myself! Normally, it is a real struggle for me to keep away from the sweets. I'm good about not buying them at the store, but if I go somewhere where they're being served, it's over. For some reason, that hasn't been the case this month. Perhaps it's because this dietary restriction is relatively new to me, and it's easier to stay motivated in the beginning.

Part of me thinks, however, that I'm not craving sugar because I haven't been eating it. I'm really not sure. This past week alone, I've been able to resist (without much work on my part), such temptations as root beer floats with local ice-cream, Snickers bars on the tables at really boring professional development sessions, hot and fresh donuts, chocolate bars--the list goes on (this is what it's like to work in the public school system!). I haven't had any crazy pregnancy cravings at all. I'm perfectly content to eat healthy foods all day long, including snacks.

Granted, I may be eating my words in a few weeks! But I thought I would share the fact that I am currently a huge fan of minimizing sugar throughout pregnancy. One of my student's moms is due in five weeks, and she has also been on a strict, minimal sugar diet. She reports that she, too, doesn't have any crazy cravings and that she feels great. She also put her family (six children) on a minimal sugar diet, and they didn't have a single illness throughout the entire summer.

I can't find much information about not eating sugar throughout pregnancy, and I honestly haven't talked to my midwife about her rationale (I promise to ask her report back!). But I wanted to offer up my own testimonial, even if it may be premature...



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11 comments:

Sharpiegirl said...

She pretty much has you on the IF diet. Which is similar to South Beach which is similar to the diabetic diet which is similar to...well you get the idea.
The reason is to keep your blood suger controlled so you don't develope GD.
Watch your empty bread calories too.

Ms Bear Cub said...

That's so interesting that the limit would be so low - 3-6 grams?? There's probably more than that in an apple! As sharpiegirl mentioned, I can see how minimizing your sugar intake reduces the likelihood of developing GD. I'm a perpetual scientist, though - I need to know the reason behind the advice. I find that is the best motivation to stick with it.

So, if you are able to get an answer from your midwife about why the sugar level needs to be below ~6 grams/day, I'd love to know!

V. Wetlaufer said...

Well, I'm glad this is working for you. It's good to avoid processed sugar. It seems strange to be so strict unless you're at risk for GD (and even then, people freak out about that too much), but I can't for the life of me understand why you have to avoid JUICE. Fruit is good for you. Not being able to drink juice just seems way over the top. Does this mean you can't put fruit in your green smoothies anymore?

Anyway, so glad the pregnancy is going well for you and I'm loving following along!

Married In Chicago said...

While not pregnant, I totally agree that eating sugar leads to more sugar cravings! I have a big sweet tooth and love to end dinner with something (anything!) sweet. And while sweets truly are delicious, I think part of the cravings are routine. So, when I gave up sweets after dinner I first started with substituting yogurt or a piece of fruit for my usual chocolate, then substituted a piece of gum for the yogurt,and now I'm down to nothing!

Anonymous said...

Hey Sara,
I'm not pregnant, but I've gotten our diet to a point where we've cut out a lot of processed sugars. While I understand her wanting to limit juice, the fact that you're having to limit actual fruit surprises me since it is so good for you. What are her thoughts about other forms of sweets that raise your blood sugar more slowly (ie agave?)

Anonymous said...

Someone mentioned the South Beach diet, and I have done that one. They cut out many foods but allow them back in later (fruits being one example). I am curious to know if your midwife sees the sugar limit as temporary & if fruit will be reintroduced later? Perhaps she is cutting the sugar so low to help you stop craving it? I'm really interested to know. Either way, my experience has been that going off sugar eliminates the cravings after a short time... and then when you reintroduce fruit it all of a sudden tastes like *candy*! :)
~J

Anonymous said...

For the person who asked about juice, juice is generally very high in calories and extra sugar! Regular fruit is a different story.

Elizabeth said...

Are you required to limit all sugar or just added sugar? I can't imagine giving up fruits (and even some veggies!) because they have sugar in them... Not only would I have to cut out some of my favorite foods from my diet, but I doubt I would get the nutrients I need to stay healthy without fruit?

Jessica said...

I'm really curious about this because it seems sort of ludicrous to suggest that eating all sugars is bad for anyone. I can understand processed sugars, but all sugars? As someone else said, there's more sugar in an apple than your limit--in fact there's usually about 23 grams. Seems sort of over the top to me.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, All: I am allowed to eat regular fruit, just not dried fruit. Yes, fruit has a lot of sugar (particularly more tropical kinds), but the sugar content is exacerbated when it's in a juice form or its dried (because you end up drinking/eating more than you would in whole fruit form). I go back to the midwife next week, so I'll find out her full rationale then...

Kira Bronaugh said...

When your midwife recommended no more than 3-6 grams of sugar a day, was that added sugar she was talking about? There are lots of natural sugars in fruits, and other types of foods that contain carbohydrates. But limiting added sugars to such a small amount totally makes sense.

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