Nutrition · Pregnancy

Sugar and Gestational Diabetes

Pregnant person holding a green apple

Gestational diabetes (GDM) can happen during pregnancy as hormone levels in your body change. When you are diagnosed with GDM, you may have heard that you cannot have sugar anymore. Some people that are pregnant with GDM may find that it’s very hard to manage sugar intake from food and beverages, they may find it confusing or even frustrating at times.

To help control your blood glucose and get the nutrients needed to have a healthy pregnancy:

Common GDM questions asked:

  1. What types of sugar can I use? Is brown sugar or honey better than white sugar?

Actually, sugars are carbohydrates that can affect your blood sugar (glucose), weight and blood fats.

There is no advantage to those with diabetes in using one type of sugar over another.

Diabetes Canada recommends that sugars may be eaten in moderation by people with diabetes. Up to 10% of the days calories can come from added sugar. Their effect on blood sugar levels will vary. Talk to your dietitian about how to manage the amount of sugar you have in your meal plan.

Sugars have many different names and can be found on the ingredients list of food labels, such as:

agave syrup barley malt brown sugar corn syrup
fructose maple syrup glucose honey
lactose maltodextrins maltose fruit juice concentrates
dextrose icing sugar molasses Sucrose and more
  1. Can I use sweeteners during pregnancy and breastfeeding?

Artificial sweeteners, also called sugar substitutes, sweeten food but do not provide calories or energy. It will generally not affect blood glucose levels. Most artificial sweeteners are safe and approved by Health Canada to use in pregnancy, but there are limits on the amount you should use.

It is best to avoid consuming too many products containing artificial sweeteners, since they may be replacing more nutrient dense foods needed for a healthy pregnancy.

For more info, connect with:

  • Toronto Public Health via eChat or call 416-338-7600
  • Telehealth to speak with a Registered Dietitian 1-866-797-0000

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