Pregnancy is a great time to develop healthy eating habits for the whole family. The habits you develop now, the types of food/drink you keep in your home, can shape the diet you will introduce to your children. You may be aware of the foods to avoid in pregnancy; but have you considered your beverages?
Is Sprite Safe to Drink While Pregnant? The good news is that in small amounts, drinks like Sprite are not dangerous to you or your baby. The occasional fizzy drink offers no danger to you or the baby. The danger comes in the amounts that you drink. To understand how to evaluate the risk to you and baby we need to look at several factors.
Factors to Consider when Evaluating the Health of Beverages
Knowing the risks can help you make wise decisions about what fluids you consume during pregnancy.
In pregnancy, you need to consume more calories and nutrients, but the adage “eating for two” is not quite accurate. Your need for extra iron, calcium, and folate can be accomplished through your pregnancy multivitamins. You should begin taking these vitamins, ideally, months before you conceive and continue throughout your pregnancy.
During your pregnancy, you need to consume 300 additional calories daily in your last two trimesters. It is vital that these calories be healthy calories and not from a Big Mac (approx. 297 calories).
It is wise to add these calories in the form of a healthy snack in mid-afternoon because going more than four hours between meals can cause your blood sugar to drop and you may feel lightheaded or tired.
Most beverages contain sugar, caffeine, coloring, etc. Aside from milk, any liquids you drink will offer no nutritional value but will add to your calorie count.
Why the Concern About Calories?
What you gain during pregnancy adds stress to your liver, pancreas, and joints. You also need to drop these pounds after baby is born so extra pounds during pregnancy are not your friend.
Doctors are becoming more concerned with weight gain during pregnancy and the new weight gain recommendations may surprise you. If your BMI prior to pregnancy was between 18.5-24.9 you can safely gain between 25-35 lbs.
However, most of us do not fit in that category. If your BMI is higher, you should only gain 10-25 pounds over your whole pregnancy. This may require drastic changes to your diet and you will need to avoid empty calories.
Why Are Empty Calories So Problematic?
With a limited number of calories, 2300 (recommended daily total), in your last two trimesters, you will need to plan your calories wisely. You need to eat a balanced diet with a focus on fresh vegetables and whole grains.
A can of Sprite at 140 calories, 6% of your recommended daily calories, offer no nutritional value. Empty calories either cause you to increase your calorie count or limit your nutritional intake.
Another concern about drinks like Sprite is sugar. One can of Sprite has 76% of your daily recommended sugar intake. With preliminary research suggesting that one sugary drink a day can increase the risk of preterm labor, it raises legitimate concerns about sodas like Sprite. One at a time has little to no risk, but the daily habit of increased sugar consumption is a concern.
High sugar consumption can create other risk factors for your baby.
- Increased risk of obesity
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Increased risk of asthma
- Increased risk of learning difficulties
- Difficulty with problem-solving
- Lower intelligence.
Can Drink Soda Cause Gestational Diabetes?
If your diet normally includes high-sugar foods or drinks, you may have a condition called prediabetes where your blood sugars are high but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. If your blood sugars are high prior to pregnancy, the added stress may lead to gestational diabetes.
“Gestational diabetes is when hormones from the placenta block insulin, preventing the body from regulating the increased blood sugar of pregnancy effectively. “
If diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes during pregnancy, you will need to check your blood sugars regularly and maintain a diabetic diet. In most cases, your blood sugar will return to normal after your pregnancy.
Not all sodas have caffeine. Sprite, some root beers, and Fanta have no caffeine. Others, like Coke, have varieties that are caffeine free. I was surprised to learn that Mountain Dew contained caffeine, so check all labels.
Experts recommend limiting your caffeine intake to 200 mg/day. To put that in perspective, a venti Starbucks coffee has 475 mg of caffeine. Your typical homemade Folgers coffee has 75-100mg.
Pepsi has 63 mg of caffeine. Here is a list of common coffee and soda products and their caffeine contents. Other caffeine sources are tea, chocolate, and energy drinks.
Why is Caffeine a Concern in Pregnancy?
Caffeine raises your blood pressure and heart rate. As both are elevated naturally during pregnancy, too much caffeine elevates them to dangerous levels. Excessive caffeine can lead to dehydration if you are not keeping up with your fluid intake.
Caffeine enters your baby’s bloodstream and they are not able to metabolize caffeine as well as you. There is also an increased risk of miscarriage in consumption levels above 200 mg/day.
Researchers may disagree about the exact risks of caffeine use in pregnancy, but they all agree to limit caffeine intake is crucial.
Switching to caffeine and sugar-free soda might seem like a safe bet, however, the debate rages about the safety of artificial sweeteners in pregnancy.
There have been studies linking artificial sweeteners to these issues with your baby:
- Poor fine motor skills
- Poor visual-spatial skills
- Poor visual- motor skills
- Poor verbal skills
Some “natural” sweeteners like whole-leaf stevia or unrefined stevia extracts are not recommended at any dose during pregnancy because of lack of research and the effects on blood sugar, kidney, and cardiovascular systems.
Check here for a list of safe sweeteners to use during pregnancy.
Strange cravings and food aversions are common in pregnancy. Most food aversions begin in early pregnancy. Your heightened sense of smell is usually the culprit.
The only time aversions are something to worry about is when they cause you to avoid a whole food group, such as meat. If that is the case, you will need to meet with a nutritionist to discuss how to get the nutrients you need.
Food cravings can be a very fun and positive addition to your pregnancy experience. You may find they hit at particular times of the day or run for a week at a time and then disappear. Cravings are your body’s way of communicating a need.
If you are craving tomatoes, whole-grain cereal, or chicken, enjoy. However, most cravings often take the form of high-calorie, high-sugar, or high-salt foods you know you should limit during pregnancy.
Cravings for Fanta orange pop, Big Macs, or ice cream are fine to indulge on occasion. Remember to avoid empty or high-calorie foods that will limit your nutrition or increase your weight gain.
Moms who suffered from severe nausea often overindulge in foods they can tolerate. I have often worked with moms who have said they are struggling to eat but drink a liter of milk a day.
Milk is very healthy, and you do need dairy in your diet, but a liter of milk is filling your tummy with limited nutrients and leaving little room for other nutritious food.
Also Check: Can you Eat Cheesecake While Pregnant?
A craving is your body requesting a nutrient and your brain attaching a specific food to that desire. Your craving for McDonald’s is probably your body requesting protein, sodium, potassium, or fats.
The trick is to decipher your craving and replace it with a healthy alternative. Here is a chart that can help you decipher those cravings. Remember, an occasional indulgence is fine; just do not make it a habit.
Healthy Food Fixes for Your Pregnancy Cravings
If you crave
Try eating …
Nonfat frozen yogurt, sorbet, or sherbet
Mineral water with fruit juice or lime
Whole-grain bagel with fresh fruit jam
Whole-grain bagel with fresh fruit jam
Low-fat banana or zucchini bread
Whole-grain cereal or oatmeal, with brown sugar
Low-sodium, low-fat chips, popcorn, or pretzels
No-fat sour cream or non-fat plain yogurt flavored with herbs
Fresh berries or bananas
Canned fruits in heavy syrup
Fresh fruit, frozen unsweetened fruit, fruit packed in water, juice
Low-fat or fat-free meats, turkey or soy Bologna, beef hot dogs
Ice cold no-fat milk whipped with a hand-held immersion blender
What Are Safe Beverages When Pregnant?
If you limit sugar, caffeine and artificial sweeteners, what beverages should you drink? What are some healthy alternatives?
Is Sparkling Water Ok in Pregnancy?
If water is difficult for you to consume in large amounts, sparkling or flavored water may be an option. The trick with sparkling or flavored water is reading the ingredients. Some flavored waters have as much sugar like juice or pop. Others contain artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors. Waters flavored with natural ingredients are best.
What About Carbonation?
Carbonated or sparkling water, with no additives, is a completely safe beverage during pregnancy. Carbonated sodas, like Sprite, in large amounts may cause damage to your pregnancy-weakened teeth but carbonated water causes no issues with your teeth. Sparkling water is more acidic than water but still not enough to cause any damage.
Another benefit of carbonated water is that it may help your morning sickness!
Other Safe Beverages
Milk – If you keep to the recommended servings of dairy, milk can be a very healthy addition to your diet. If you are struggling to keep your calorie count up, you can switch to high-fat milk. If you are trying to keep your calorie count down, switch to 1% or skim milk. Are you lactose intolerant? Some moms find that during pregnancy they can digest milk easier.
Water – Water is always a healthy choice. Ensure you are getting enough calories and not filling your stomach with water when you need nutrients.
Juice – 100% juice sounds healthy but the high level of natural (and added) sugar make this a poor choice for your beverage needs. A small glass at breakfast is plenty. Do not use it to quench your thirst or count it towards your fruits and vegetable servings. Fresh fruit and vegetables contain more nutrients and fiber than juice and are a better choice.
Coffee – You can have about 2 cups of caffeinated coffee a day. Avoid your high sweet and fat specialty coffees, but if you need the caffeine jolt, enjoy.
Tea – Non-herbal tea in small doses can be a very safe drink as well. You can often get decaffeinated versions that will allow you to consume more, just watch how much sugar you use.
Soda – Soda should only be consumed in small doses. Non-caffeinated soda like Sprite and Fanta will avoid the caffeine risk but you need to worry about the amount of sugar you consume. If your sugar intake is low, one small can will cause you no issues. If you make infrequent visits to McDonald’s feel free to have a regular size Sprite.