Sugar Hide and Seek: 4 Steps to Protect Your Baby by Ridding Your Diet Hidden Sugars
The news reports are in: sugar is bad for us. It suppresses our immune systems, contributes to diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, interferes with our bodies’ absorption of minerals like calcium and magnesium, and keeps us from utilizing protein. In pregnancy, sugar can cause toxemia (high blood pressure), low birth weight, and can even increase neural tube defects in embryos. (1) It’s scary stuff.
We want to have healthy pregnancies and give birth to healthy babies so we cut down on sugar. We say goodbye to cookies and cakes and candy. This is a great start. But sugar is hiding in places you might never expect. For example, a Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte with whip cream from Starbucks has 50 grams of sugar. That’s a quarter cup of sugar, which is roughly the same amount of sugar as you’d find in a king sized candy bar.
Sugar can also be found in foods like condiments, cereals, yogurt, and beverages. (2) Before you eat or drink, take a look at the label. You might find the word “sugar”, but the sweet stuff hides behind many other names. Look for words like syrup, sweetener, and juice. Words that start with ‘mal’ like maltose and maltodextrin are also sugar. (3) Look for anything that ends in -ose like dextrose and sucrose. These are all hidden sugars.
It can be overwhelming. But anything overwhelming can be made easier by taking baby steps. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time….
Steps to cut down on sugar in your diet:
Stick to water. Pure water is great for hydration and detoxification. It helps keep our blood pressure down and our blood volume up. Being well-hydrated literally helps us breathe easier. If you need some extra flavor, try adding sliced citrus fruit or cucumber. If you miss the carbonation of soda, try a bubbly water like Topo Chico or Perrier.
If you are drinking tea or coffee, make it unsweet. Fancy coffee house drinks and flavored creamers can add tons of hidden sugar to your diet. Give heavy cream or half and half a try. Or have a plain latte or cappuccino. Cinnamon can add a little flavor and sweetness as well. I like to sprinkle cinnamon in my coffee grounds before I brew them to get a non-gritty cinnamon taste in every drop of my coffee.
Flip over the package a look at the label before you buy. Start noticing the grams of sugar. Every 4 grams = 1 teaspoon of sugar. And look for the names of hidden sugars. If you look at a package and there are more ingredients than you want to sift through, or the ingredient names are too hard to read, then it is probably better left on the grocery store shelf.
Stick to whole, real foods as much as you can. A good rule of thumb is to eat the things that your great -grandmother would recognize as food. Meats, veggies, fruits, nuts, and healthy fats like butter and olive oil are all good choices.
Will you miss sugar? Maybe for a while. But in my experience, after cutting down on sugar I don’t crave it or even like it as much. Your taste buds will adjust. After as little as 2 or 3 weeks of cutting down on sugar, and you might start to notice and enjoy the natural sweetness in foods you don’t even think of as sweet. And you can rest assured that saying goodbye to the sweet stuff will benefit that little person growing in your belly. (4)
(1) 141 Reasons Sugar Ruins Your Health (Just Kidding, it’s 144), By Nancy Appleton PhD & G.N. Jacobs
(2) Finding the Hidden Sugar in the Foods You Eat, By Erin Gager, R.D., L.D.N., a dietitian at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Hopkinsmedicine.org
(3) Hidden in Plain Sight, Added sugar is hiding in 74% of packaged foods, From Sugarscience by UCSF sugarscience.ucsf.edu
(4) Pregnant women who eat more sugar may put baby at higher risk of allergies, asthma, USA TODAY NETWORK, Ashley May, USA TODAY, Published 3:52 p.m. ET July 6, 2017