Updated: May 22, 2019
Pregnancy is a wonderful time filled with cravings that you never knew you had. But even with these cravings one has to be mindful to eat a healthy and a wholesome diet so that the baby and mother are properly nourished.
Sweet craving is tricky because most sweets fall under the “Junk” category as they are filled with refined sugars, aspartame, artificial colours and sweetners, glucose-corn syrup and loads of preservatives.
Also, there are studies linking maternal refined sugar consumption to development of gestational diabetes in the mother (1) and higher BMI (2) and atopic allergies (3) in the baby.
In fact, I would say one should avoid artificial/ refined sugar even on a normal day! Let alone when pregnant.
So here are some tips to satisfy the sweet craving while maintaining optimal nutritional value:
1. Use Jaggery instead of sugar:
White sugar/ brown sugar are both highly refined and should be avoided. In its place you can use Jaggery to sweeten your drinks. The darker the colour of the jiggery the less refined it is. I would recommend looking for organic or chemical free (sulphur free) options if possible. Also Jaggery is rich in Iron, potassium and magnesium. However bear in mind that it is still sugar so if you are diabetic/ pre-diabetic it is best to avoid it.
2. Avoid juices and have smoothies instead
Packed juices are filled with sugar/ syrup and they spike blood sugar levels and add empty calories without much nutritive value. Home-made juices are much better but they lack fiber and give a higher sugar spike. So If you are diabetic try to use the entire fruit to make slushies/ smoothies which give a slower sugar spike and are filled with fiber. If you are not diabetic then enjoy that home-made juice!
3. Binge on Dates
Considered as a super food dates are filled with natural sweetness (fructose), iron, calcium, vitamin B2/B6, folate and vitamin K. You can either have it post meal to satisfy your craving or munch in between meals. You can also puree it and use it to sweeten your drinks!
4. Have loads of fruits!
Fruits like banana, mango, chickoo, muskmelon have an inherent sweetness to them. Having a fruit when you have a sugar craving is a healthier way to satisfy your sweet tooth.
5. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate (eaten in moderation) usually has very little sugar but gives you a satisfaction of eating a chocolate while you crave it.
6. Avoid Fizzy drinks
Fizzy drinks are nothing but aerated water with chemicals. With absolutely no nutritional value and a high glycemic index (sugar spiking tendency), they are best avoided.
7. Raw honey
Raw honey is again naturally sweet and can be used in moderation in your drinks/oatmeal/pancakes etc.
Dayeon Shin, Kyung Won Lee, and Won O. Song. Dietary Patterns during Pregnancy Are Associated with Risk of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus. Nutrients. 2015; 7(11): 9369–9382.
Meghan B. Azad; Atul K. Sharma, Russell J. de Souza, RD, et al. Association Between Artificially Sweetened Beverage Consumption During Pregnancy and Infant Body Mass Index. JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(7):662-670.
Bédard A, Northstone K, Henderson AJ, Shaheen SO. Maternal intake of sugar during pregnancy and childhood respiratory and atopic outcomes. Eur Respir J. 2017; 5;50(1). pii: 1700073.