Pregnancy brings out the strange, hidden side of our appetite – its evil twin, perhaps. Women who are sworn vegetarians will not be able to keep themselves from tearing into a blue cheese burger. Health nuts find themselves standing forlornly outside of the local Taco Bell, weighing their options, and then giving in, just this once. And self-proclaimed “salty-tooths” like myself suddenly turn into ice cream-swilling “sweet tooths”. Prior to conception I would turn down a cookie in favor or a piece of warm, gooey brie cheese any day. Post conception I would have dreams all night about apple pie and then eat fruit snacks for breakfast. Everything was under control, I told myself. I can stop any time. But at Christmas I gained twice the recommended amount of weight for that month, and the sole culprit was sugar. So, for those who are gestational sugar hounds like me, or for those who just need to find some healthy substitutes, here are helpful hints that I have used to get my weight and my self-control back on track.
I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Saturated Fat and Sugar!
If you are used to eating ice cream in the evenings after a meal or while watching TV, try having a fruit-flavored yogurt instead to satisfy your craving for a sweet, milky treat. If it is not the flavor but the cold sweetness that you’re after, stock your freezer with frozen berries and pour yourself a bowl when you need an icy snack. Blueberries are full of antioxidants and fiber, and are a filling, fat-free nibble.
Put Beverages On the Spot
One of the worst sugary offenders is soda. I’ve never really been into the store bought stuff, but my favorite soda treat (and a good
way to get my vitamin C and folic acid) is a homemade orange fizz. Pour 1/4 cup of organic orange juice into a glass and top off with 1 cup of plain soda water. Not only will you have a lightly flavored fizzy treat, but it has far less sugar than an 8 oz can of soda, and since you use so little orange juice at a time you can afford to buy the nice, pesticide-free organic juice. I also use this trick with pure, unsweetened cranberry juice.
If orange-flavor just isn’t your thing try making your own simple syrups and experimenting with flavored sodas. To make a simple syrup just heat 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar until the sugar completely dissolves. From there whatever flavoring you want – lime peel, vanilla extract, and fresh berries are a few options, or try my ginger-cinnamon simple syrup recipe. Measure the syrup into a glass and add soda water on top. Keep track of how many tablespoons of simple syrup you use and try not to go overboard.
Hold the Mayo…and Ketchup
During an experimental phase where my doctor and I were trying to find natural ways to ease my fibromyalgia discomfort I spent several months on the candida diet. This diet was very effective at getting me to lose weight (my husband was skipping home form work every day to see how much of me had disappeared since he left me in the morning), and it was effective at making me an anti-social, bitter grump because of the severe limitations it imposed on my social life. Don’t attempt to pull off a candida cleanse without talking to your doctor, and preggos should definitely avoid it unless there is a specific medical reason to make your life this miserable. However, take away this one nugget of sugar-free wisdom from the candida diet: there is sugar in just about everything. You’re probably ingesting sugar constantly without even realizing it. Sugar lurks in our condiments – ketchup, my first love, is a key offender. Another surprising offender is vinegar, which is found in mayo, salad dressings, and of course, pickles. Keep this in mind the next time you drench your salad in fat-free balsamic dressing. Instead, try making a lemon-tahini dressing:
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons cup tahini paste
1 tablespoon minced onion
3 tablespoons water (or more, if your tahini paste is very thick)
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine tahini paste, onion, and lemon juice in a bowl and whisk vigorously until smooth. Gradually whisk in water until desired consistency is reached. Add salt and pepper to taste. This dressing will keep well in the fridge for about a week.
Resort To Dirty Baking Tricks
Baking your own treats at home is a great way to control how much sugar goes into your desserts…and it is a good way to find yourself eating 10 cookies at a time, simply because they are there. When you bake, consider halving the amount of sugar in your recipe (depending on what you bake, this usually will not affect the texture, although there are exceptions). If having a full batch of cookies loafing around your kitchen is too much temptation for you, freeze half of your dough for later. Also, if you think your family will notice your less-sugar tricks, try adding healthier ingredients that will distract them (dried cherries in the chocolate chip cookies are a good example). For a moderately healthy and filling snack try making my no-bake sugar plums.
Have Any Other Hints? I Want To Know Them!
These are just a few things that work for me. I would love to hear about other sly things that YOU do to keep sugar at bay in your daily life!