Dealing with sugar cravings while pregnant, and what I learned monitoring my own blood sugar

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One thing that I have noticed being pregnant (both times) was that it brings about the most intense sugar cravings. And when I cave into them, I often feel guilty because, obviously I come from a place of knowing too much. Its still really hard though, even for health coaches.

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I think it mostly stems from a few things: lack of a real appetite, anxiety and stress, and being constantly tired. I also discovered later on that it could be from not eating enough protein, which was making me hungry more.

I never really had/have pregnancy cravings (either time). It was always more food aversions. Even though I know I am hungry, nothing sounds appealing, so I end up just eating whatever I can eat, in order to eat. Being home helped, because I was able to control what food I had in the house more, plus I was able to cook more. But lack of a real – normal for me – appetite was a big factor for me reaching for sugar and bread more (which was incredibly annoying!!).

Also, I was a lot more stressed this time because I was working from home, while also being home with a toddler (and being pregnant). Teaching 3 classes online was really hard, mostly because of what seemed like endless grading (I gave up on deadlines midway through. I basically just told my students to hand in their stuff before the semester was over, lol). So, I know I stressed ate a lot, especially when I was grading because I constantly felt like I was behind and therefore felt overwhelmed). (Very similar to me overeating candy in college. It was stress from studying).

Around this time, my doctors started to feel concerned that my baby was getting too big too fast and even though my first glucose test was fine, they wanted me to redo it. Which, I did not want to do. But the crazy person that I am, when offered to instead monitor my blood sugar for a week on my own, instead of the 3 hour test, I actually thought that was a great idea!! (Normal people would just do the one time test, instead of choosing to prick their fingers 4x a day for a week, haha. Not me!).

My thought process was that if there are things that are spiking my sugar, I want to know what they are, so I can stop eating them. During a one time test, you are only getting one data point (well two because they check every hour) and its coming from a sugar drink, and not the actual food you are eating. Since, I basically do eat majority of the same things every week, I thought it would be a good idea to monitor my blood sugar to see where the culprits are. So, I ended up keeping a full food diary for a week, while also keeping track of my glucose numbers. Which, I found very interesting (I actually want to do it again when I’m not pregnant). It tells you a lot about the food choices you make and how your body is treating them (in terms of sugar, anyway).

Actually, when all was said and done, there were only two times my sugar spiked out of range: when I ate a handful of dried figs, and again after eating a bowl of Raman noodles. That was it! My fasting sugar was fine (taken first thing in the morning). My breakfasts were fine (either eggs, oatmeal, or pancakes). My lunches were usually a sandwich or leftovers (sandwich did get it higher, but always in range). My dinners were all fine (mostly some sort of meat +veggie and sometimes rice or pasta). My midmorning smoothies were all good!

Every time, my blood sugar even got remotely higher, it made sense why. It was from something with sugar (duh!) or white flour (even more duh!). It just meant that I have to be more mindful of when I eat those things and to not overdo it in ONE day. Aka: BALANCE. I found that when my blood sugar was higher, was when I wasn’t balancing out my meals (carb+protein+fat). It was when I was heavier on the starchy carbs/ sugar or when I was overly snacking on sugary things. Again, this should be obvious. But it is interesting to see the real data in front of you.

Another thing I realized was that I probably wasn’t eating enough protein. I always include lots of healthy fats in all my meals, which does slow down blood sugar, but I wasn’t paying attention to my protein intake as much as I should have (especially being pregnant, you need a lot more). Which was partly to blame for why I was hungry more and just reaching for more sugary things in order to get a quick hunger/energy fix.

Also, even the act of just paying more attention to my food choices, made me more conscious of them. I haven’t tracked my own food in a really long time. I also did not write down any macros or calorie information, just the food itself (turns out, those numbers don’t really tell you what you don’t already know by just looking at the food). Just the times of day and also my blood glucose measurements.

I’m still fighting the sugar monster at the end of my pregnancy. I am just tired a lot more and also very anxious a lot more (I know what it coming my way this time!). I am also just hungry a lot. So, its hard. I am trying to not feel so guilty over it and just trying to do my best. Soon, I will have my body back and can eat like myself again (well, after the initial hormone roller-coaster that comes from giving birth and breastfeeding…seriously that it a million times more intense than being pregnant. No one warns you about that part!). Its hard to give yourself some grace, when you are growing a human in your belly, while also being a health coach. Just doing my best. But paying attention to what I am eating more and also to my body while also being aware of my triggers has helped.

Any other pregnant ladies had/have sugar cravings or were told that your baby is getting too big? What was your experience?

Also, what do you think about monitoring your own blood sugar as a guide for better food choices? I think everyone should do it once in a while, just to give some insight into their food choices.

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