Updated 20 September 2013
Here are some FAQ’s about a sugar-free pregnancy. If you have any questions that aren’t answered here, please post a comment below.
Is it wise to quit sugar (and make big changes to my diet) while pregnant?
Oh heck yeah! Short of quitting smoking or drugs, quitting sugar is one of the best things you can do for your baby! Sugar has absolutely nothing in it that you and your baby can’t get from healthier, less addictive sources (like fruit). More and more studies are showing that the mother’s prenatal diet strongly affects the child’s health outcomes later in life. Your unborn baby also tastes, and gets used to what you eat via the placenta. Avoiding the sweet stuff while pregnant may help your child to be less of a sweet tooth later on.
If your child is raised in a sugar-free household, you’ll be settling them up for some healthy food practices when they get older. Many people report behavioural issues reducing drastically when they eliminate sugar from their children’s diet. That’s got to be a huge incentive in my book.
I’m sugar-free, but I have such bad cravings for sweets! What should I do?
Hunt out some of the great sugar-free recipes lurking online. I highly recommend Spoonful of Sugar Free and I Quit Sugar for their healthy and delicious recipes. You can also substitute dextrose for sugar, when only a big ol’ slab of chocolate cake with cream will do.
Now, I’m being totally honest with you – I only managed to do six months sugar-free while pregnant. I wasn’t initially derailed by cravings or anything like that, instead it was by visiting friends for several weeks in America where having sugar was just unavoidable (you can read about it here). D and I decided to simply go with it and quit sugar again when we returned home. But once home, I found it impossible to give it up. My cravings were sooooo bad. I kept caving in (and sabotaging my withdrawal) and would beat myself up about it. I mean really berate myself for being a crap Mum, and for not giving my baby the best possible start in life that I could. And for being a miserable failure at quitting sugar. Finally D said to me ‘Angela, you’re pregnant. It’s perfectly normal to have strong cravings for sweet things. Just have it! We can quit again once the baby is here’. And that’s exactly what we did.
So if this is you, if you are struggling to keep your cravings in check and feeling like you’re the worst mother on the planet – be kind to yourself. Eat sugar-free as much as you possibly can, and quit entirely once baby is here.
I’m pregnant and want to give up sugar. How do I do it?
You can either quit gently (I’d recommend Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar programme if this sounds like you) or go cold turkey. I went cold turkey, cause that’s just how I roll. Either way, here are some tips to make it easier on yourself.
- Quit when your social calendar isn’t full. It was the beginning of November when I first discovered Sweet Poison. As Christmas was coming up, the first time D and I quit we decided to be kind to ourselves and wait until AFTER Christmas/New Year’s. We waited until we were back at work, so we didn’t have lots of free time to think about food. Stay in for a couple of weeks instead of going out for dinner at night. Avoid your favourite cafe. Have friends over to your house, instead of going to theirs.
- Get sugar in all its variants out of your house. Give it away to your neighbours. Just get rid of it. You don’t want to be sitting at home on day two with that stash of chocolate you always keep in the top right-hand cupboard calling your name.
- Generally I think soft drink is the devil, but get some Coke/Sprite Zero, or other zero-sugar drink to get you through the withdrawal period, if you think it might help. Trust me, after a few weeks you will no longer want the stuff anymore. I had it for about a week (that’s all I could stand) and it helped me when I got cravings.
- Expect to have a few days of feeling rubbish. It passes. Sooner than you’d think.
- Really think about if you’re ready to quit. It’s okay if you’re not. Just file the idea of quitting sugar away for when you are. For me, I’d just had enough. I’d hit bottom. I was so embarrassed and ashamed of my over-eating that carrying on as I was just wasn’t an option anymore. Reading Sweet Poison was the first thing that gave me hope in like, forever. My daughter is my main motivation for staying sugar-free. I don’t want her to grow up with a weight problem, or have the food issues that I did.