Seven Steps To Cleaning Up Your Diet In Pregnancy: Step Six

Smart Sexy Birth | Perfect Pregnancy Nutrition

We are in the home stretch! You've cleaned out your fridge, made some switches in your shopping cart, switched out the sammie at lunch, "nutrified" your plate, armed yourself with some awesome snacks and now onto step number six:

Sack The Sugar

This one is a biggie. 

Added sugars have made there way into just about every corner of our diets, many of which we least expect.

Back in the 1700s we averaged in about 4 pounds of sugar a year. Nowadays we are hittin' back nearly 180 pounds!!! That is 45 bags of sugar! Just imagine that for a second, 45 regular sized bags of sugar piled up in your shopping cart.... going in your belly....

A high sugar diet can wreak havoc on your body, influencing everything from fetal development to maternal weight gain to labor and delivery (I will get into the nitty gritty details of that later on in the coming weeks).

So getting savvy on your sugar intake can be nothing but good for you and baby. 

The best way to go about it is to identify your biggest sugar culprits and then eliminate them by finding a similar yet less sweet replacement. 

For most american women that’s gonna be soda and juice….and yes I said juice.

But fruit has all those vitamins and antioxidants in it, you say!? Yes it does. But it also has a TON of sugar.

And even though we may consider it "natural" sugar, it has the exact same physiological effects as the white stuff.

How could that be? Because when you juice a fruit you strip out the fiber. And fiber is the stuff that helps the sugar slowwwly trickle out into your bloodstream. Without that fiber the sugar is a free rolling man and hits your bloodstream like a mac truck. The metabolic effects that begin to play out are no different than if you had slugged back a can of coke. 

As Dr. Lustig points out in his book Fat Chance: Beating The Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, And Disease, there are kids who get obese on drinking gallons of juice alone, it is powerful stuff. 

Another perspective to take is, how many oranges do you think it takes to make that glass of orange juice?

FIVE! Who sits down and eats five oranges in one sitting?! 

Below are some common sugar culprits and replacement ideas:

  • Instead of soda or juice, try sparkling water infused with real fruit.  Another thing to try is half sparkling water, half juice in your glass and as the weeks go by use less and less juice to slowly wean yourself off. Or simply just eat the whole fruit instead! Instead of orange juice, eat an orange.
  • Instead of flavored yogurt opt for plain. Some of those individual containers have up to 22 grams of added sugar, it’s like eating a candy bar! Add cut up fruit or a drizzle of honey for a touch of sweetness. 
  • Cut back on granola bars, cereal bars, and protein bars. HUGE sources of added sugar! They are glamorized candy bars.  Instead opt for high protein real food sources like cubed chicken/salmon, cheese, and a handful of nuts. 
  • Instead of flavored coffee enhancers, choose regular cream or half and half.
  • Instead of the Starbucks caramel macchiato, which has more sugar than a can of coke, choose a latte or cappuccino (or any other version that is just coffee and cream).
  • Other little culprits for added sugar are your nut butters- especially peanut butter, prepackaged salad dressings, cereals- especially granola, and flavored instant oatmeal.  Pick unsweetened ones or make your own.  Even if you don't want to lose the brown sugar in your oatmeal, still choose plain and add the sugar yourself because I guarantee you will put less in than they do in the factory.

Now here is the thing to keep in mind while you are doing all this:

Weaning yourself from sugar ain't pretty. 

Sugar is literally a drug, and just like any drug it is highly addictive. 

While you are cutting back you very well might experience irritability, fogginess, head aches, exhaustion, muscle aches.  The whole shebang.  It's called the DT's.

Be aware that it is coming.  You will feel worse before you feel better. It should dissipate within a week or two depending on how much your body was addicted.

One thing that will really help in the weaning phase is making sure you have meals with protein and fat. This is what you want to do anyways regardless, but doing so will help keep your blood sugars from getting all crazy and help tame those cravings.  Keeping your awesome snacks handy is key. It’s usually in-between meals, especially that four o’clock hour, that really challenges us to not dip into the sugar bowl.

The other thing to take note of is that your taste buds are probably gonna throw a fit on the new unsweetened versions in the beginning. 

I remember when I did this my biggest culprit was vanilla yogurt.  I’ve never been a big soda or juice girl, but I loooooved my vanilla yogurt. 

I always thought "oh yogurt, its so healthy, yadda yadda". But once I started to get savvy on the whole sugar dilemma I realized my little "health food" had nearly 19 grams per serving in there- and I was eating like three containers a day in my first pregnancy!

So off I go to switch over to plain.  Felt so European….la-ti-da...and then I tasted it. 

Um, no.

Sour, gross, and obviously NOT like vanilla yogurt.  

But I stuck it out.  I’d drizzle some honey in there, add some fruit, and before I knew it I was actually enjoying it.  It was like I could start to taste the subtle differences between different brands of yogurt, and the complex flavors of each one (yes, I became one of those yogurt snobs). 

So several months down the road I decided to try vanilla yogurt again just for kicks. I kid you not, it was SO GAGGINGLY SWEET, I almost had to spit it out! 

Isn’t it amazing how our taste buds can get so accustomed to something?  So trust me when I say just try to bite the bullet and try to stick it out there in the beginning.  You might be pleasantly surprised.

Check out your fun sheet in this section called Sugar By Every Other Name.  It gives you the lowdown on all the creative ways food manufactures like to name sugar so you don’t get fooled when reading labels.

Don't have your fun sheet yet? Enter in your email below and get access to the Perfect Pregnancy Class, 18+ free pdfs and fun sheets to help you get organized and shop smart, as well as the Have You Had? checklist that helps you make sure you are getting the 5 Essential Pregnancy Nutrients day to day.

See ya next time! xoxo

Read Step Seven here.