Satisfying a sweet tooth during pregnancy

I am five months pregnant. I have been very concerned about maintaining a healthy diet. With the holidays right around the corner I see my sweet tooth taking over. Will a diet that is heavy in sugar -- even if only for a week or two -- negatively affect my pregnancy or my baby's health?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

It's wonderful that you realize the importance of a healthy diet during pregnancy. My guess is that your awareness of this will help you to rein in that sweet tooth during the holiday season.

Even a week or two of poor nutrition can make you feel generally lousy and who needs that when they're five months pregnant? There is certainly no benefit gained by you or your baby when indulging in too many empty calorie treats.

By eating too many holiday treats you risk a couple of things. First, cookies and candy are very calorie dense, and may fill you up, so that you aren't hungry for the more nourishing foods you need to eat. A couple of weeks of one less cup of yogurt a day or one less serving of tuna can mean a couple of weeks of too few nutrients for your baby. Secondly, a couple of weeks of overeating can contribute to excessive weight gain. which can lead to complications as well as put undo stress on you and your baby.

In the long run, those two weeks of less than optimal nutrition may not make much of a difference, but why risk it? These nine months are the most critical ones for your baby's diet. It is an especially important time in your baby's life -- when you have complete control of his diet. Remember that the nutrition she gets, or does not get, can have lifelong effects.

I suggest that you allow yourself an occasional treat so that you don't become obsessed with them. Be sure to have plenty of healthy foods around when the urge strikes for a sweet.
 

Following are seven 'instead of' ideas to help you deal with the temptations of celebration foods:

1. Instead of apple pie and ice cream, how about a baked apple topped with a little cinnamon.

2. Instead of pumpkin pie, try adding some pumpkin puree into non-fat vanilla yogurt and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice.

3. Instead of cookies or candy enjoy a bowl of popcorn sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

4. Find healthy alternatives for your favorite holiday recipes. If you always make pumpkin bread with loads of butter and sugar, try instead to cut back on the sugar and substitute applesauce or one of the commercial fat replacers for the fat.

5. Prepare dips with nonfat or lowfat sour cream or plain yogurt.

6. Buy baked chips and crackers instead of fried.

7. Substitute lowfat cheeses for the higher fat variety.

8. Treat yourself to a coveted low-fat, healthy eating cookbook so you can begin exploring new and healthy holiday traditions.

Have a happy, healthy pregnancy and Happy Holidays!

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