Healthy Sweeteners for Fertility & Hormone Balance

SUGAR CRAVINGS & FERTILITY 

Women dealing with infertility often report they have increased sugar cravings during fertility treatments. This can be due to excessive stress, which activates desire for quick carbohydrates and sugars to boost mood for instant gratification. The scenario goes something like this: quick energy pick-up, push through current activity and crash. It’s the typical sugar roller-coaster that feels energizing in the moment and ultimately leads to adrenal burnout, while wreaking havoc on reproductive hormones.

IS SUGAR BAD FOR YOUR FERTILITY?

Most of us would agree that at one stage of our lives or another, a sweet treat was the “staple” that got us through the day. Coffee and chocolate are the “pick me ups” of choice for so many of the women I work with. One woman actually once called me in tears that she had finished off an entire bag of chocolate chips in less than an hour.  She begged me to help her with her willpower, not yet aware that sugar cravings can be the physiological result of imbalanced blood sugar levels over a period of time. 

Deciding to quit excess sugar and artificial sweeteners is one of the best choices we can make for our health. Over-consumption of refined sweeteners can lead to blood sugar imbalances, weight gain, mood swings and malabsorption of vitamins including minerals and calcium essential for fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Insulin Resistance: 

When we eat a high glycemic food or straight sugar, our blood glucose spikes causing the body to call upon cortisol and insulin to bring it back to baseline. Cortisol and insulin are both fat depositing hormones which can increase body weight and disrupt the BMI which is also important for fertility. When this happens over and over again the system gets sluggish and no longer works optimally ultimately leading to metabolic syndrome and eventually diabetes 2.

Hormone Imbalance:

The constant release of cortisol and insulin also disrupts the reproductive hormones. Cortisol also known as the stress hormone puts the body into fight or flight mode.  We know that animals in the wild actually do not reproduce when they are under stress so it is important to manage stress levels and balance blood sugar to optimize hormone health for fertility.

Gestational Diabetes: 

During pregnancy our blood volume increases by three times making us more naturally insulin resistant.  It is very important to start focusing on blood sugar balance when we are trying to conceive to ensure we are not at higher risk for gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

Candida and Imbalances in the Gut Microbiome:

When a lot of sugar is consumed, it disrupts the microbiome and creates a cascade of sugar cravings. Candida is an opportunistic, yeast-like parasite that feeds on sugar.  In order to restore homeostasis in the microbiome it is important to reduce excess sugar consumption and focus on restoring the gut flora with prebiotics.

BALANCING SUGAR CRAVINGS:

5 TIPS for Managing Blood Sugar for Fertility: 

  1. Choose More Natural Sweeteners: 

Use natural sugar sources, such as fruit , and favor low-glycemic organic coconut sugar as a sweetener to help keep blood sugar levels stable and avoid fluctuating hormone and energy levels.

    2. Favor Whole Fruits instead of Fruit Juice 

Eat fruits in their whole form, not as juice. Sweetened juices are loaded with sugar, producing dampness and encouraging yeast formation in the body, and even unsweetened juices lack the fiber that helps slow absorption of natural sugar from whole fruits.

   3. Avoid Refined and Artificial Sweeteners

Avoid foods sweetened with refined sugar, corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. Commercially prepared baked goods, pastries and sodas are generally full of white flour, sugars, or chemicals that disrupt your body’s natural processes.  Chemical sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose are not recognized by the body and therefore cannot be processed.

   4. Eat Enough Protein on Your Fertility Diet 

Eating a minimum of 80 grams of protein can be helpful for curbing your sugar cravings. Protein keeps the energy levels and glucose steady as opposed to sugars and high glycemic carbohydrates which spike the blood sugar. Eating more protein can help increase energy, improve mood and optimize fertility.  Following a more paleolithic style diet, full of colorful veggies, fats and lean proteins can help to alkalize the body to support conception

   5. Choose low glycemic foods:

The glycemic index is a system where each food is measured and rated on a scale of 100.  For instance, a piece of white toast is 100, a potato is a 95 whereas a sweet potato is a 45.  Choose fiber rich, colorful vegetables and lean proteins with good fats and whole grains.  You can also lessen the glycemic load by always including a protein at every meal and snack.

Enjoying Sweet Foods in Moderation 

The 80/ 20 principle 

Deprivation is the enemy of managing cravings!

It leads to all or nothing thinking which can often lead to binging. 

Having a perspective of moderation is important for long term blood sugar balance. 

As you become more in balance, your cravings shift and you naturally  tend to indulge in foods and habits that are good for you.  Think 80/20: 80% of the time you are following clean eating principles and 20% of the time you are indulging.  

Choose healthy indulgences like dark chocolate (70% cacao or more), avocado mousse, and try some of the sweetener alternatives below to learn how to transform your favorite desserts into treats that don’t spike your blood sugar and wreck your hormones! You got this!

Chocolate mousse: https://fertilefoods.com/chocolate-mousse-recipe-2/ 

Gluten Free crisp: https://fertilefoods.com/gluten-free-apple-crisp/ 

Flourless chocolate cake: https://fertilefoods.com/the-most-delicious-flourless-chocolate-cake/ 

How to Use Natural sweetener substitutes for Fertility and Pregnancy: 

Replace 1 cup of refined sugar with:

1 cup Organic coconut sugar {similar taste to brown sugar with caramel notes}

1 cup Brown rice syrup {not as sweet with a nutty, caramel taste} 

½ cup Blackstrap molasses {deep bitter and sweet with nutrients like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese}

¾ cup Raw honey {varies in taste based on the nectar collected of the bees that produced it} 

¾ cup Maple syrup {sweet combination of butterscotch and caramel} 

1 cup Xylitol {natural sugar alcohol found in plants without fructose} 

½ cup Monk Fruit {very sweet and often combined with erythritol} 

¾ Yacon Syrup {sweet tasting likened to caramelized sugar} 

Let us know in the comments what your favorite sugar alternative and recipes are! What is not working for you and what is? 

About Me

As the founder of FertileFoods.com my intention is to support men and women from the childbearing years all the way to the family dinner table by prioritizing relaxation, pleasure, exercise, healthy foods and high quality nutrient supplementation.

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