Drinks and gestational diabetes
Staying well hydrated is very important during pregnancy and even more so if you have diabetes whilst pregnant. Drinking water doesn't directly lower blood sugar levels, but it does flush excess sugar out of your system and so staying hydrated will help control and stabilise blood sugar levels.
Ideally you should be drinking around 3 litres (10 -12 glasses) at least, a day. You will need to drink even more during warmer weather or if you are exercising.
We recommend drinking a glass of water with AND in between every meal and snack during the day.
Tea, coffee and fizzy drinks containing caffeine should not be included as part of your recommended daily fluid intake as they are diuretics. Diuretics make you urinate more frequently, causing you to lose water. If you don’t like the taste of water then you could try carbonated water with lemon and lime added to it, or some sugar free squash. Be careful when choosing drinking squash which has ‘no added sugar’, it means exactly that, no ADDED sugar, but will still contain natural sugars. Check labels for the lowest total carbs for the best choices.
Drinks suitable for a GD diet
- Water, carbonated or still. Beware of flavoured waters that may contain sugar.
- Tea & coffee, decaffeinated or remember to include within your recommended daily intake
- Diet/Zero/No added sugar carbonated drinks
- No added sugar diluting squash (watch out for high juice or squashes with natural or concentrate fruit juices added)
- Raspberry leaf tea
- As a treat - Highlights, Options or Choc Shot hot chocolate with added whipped cream!
Diet, no added sugar and zero carbonated drinks
There are many alternatives to well loved, original full sugar drinks such as the following:
- Dr Pepper > Dr Pepper Zero
- Coke > Diet Coke or Coke Zero (please note that Coke Life still contains sugar)
- Pepsi > Diet Pepsi or Pepsi Max
- Fanta Orange > Fanta Orange Zero
- Fanta Icy Lemon > Fanta Icy Lemon Zero
- Lilt > Lilt Zero
- Sprite > Sprite Zero
- 7UP > 7UP Light/7UP free
- Irn Bru > Sugar Free Irn Bru
- Levi Roots drinks > Levi Roots Zero
- Vimto > No added sugar Vimto
- Cola > Diet cola
- Lemonade > Diet Lemonade
- Ginger Beer > Diet Ginger Beer
- Cream Soda > Diet Cream Soda
- Dandelion & Burdock > Diet Dandelion & Burdock
Why not buy some lolly moulds and make some sugar free ice pops! 🙂
Caffeine in drinks
Be mindful that some carbonated drinks, coffee and tea contain caffeine. Current guidelines recommend no more than 200mg of caffeine per day to be consumed during pregnancy.
How much caffeine?
The amount of caffeine found in some drinks is as follows:
- one mug of instant coffee: 100mg
- one mug of filter coffee: 140mg
- one mug of tea: 75mg
- one can of cola: 40mg
- one can of energy drink: up to 80mg
Artificial sweeteners in drinks
The majority of No Added Sugar, diet and zero drinks contain artificial sweeteners. Although there is much controversy over artificial sweeteners, they are safe to consume:
All sweeteners in the EU will have undergone a rigorous safety assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) or its predecessor, the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF), before they can be used in food and drink. "Large studies looking at people have now provided strong evidence that artificial sweeteners are safe for humans."As part of the evaluation process, the EFSA sets an acceptable daily intake (ADI), which is the maximum amount considered safe to consume each day over the course of your lifetime.You don't need to keep track of how much sweetener you consume each day, as our eating habits are factored in when specifying where sweeteners can be used.
Avoid adding sugar to drinks as this is pure sugar which your body cannot process as it would normally, even cutting back is still adding excess pure sugar which is difficult for your body to process.
Try sweeteners instead. A range of different sweeteners are available; natural and artificial, some are powder or granulated forms and others are tablets.
Tablet sweeteners are only suitable for adding to drinks. Powdered sweeteners can leave a froth on top of drinks and granulated sweeteners dissolve much the same as beet or cane sugar.
There are some research links at the bottom of the page for more information on artificial sweeteners.
Due to lactose which is the naturally occurring sugar in milk, it can have varied results in different people. It's advisable to perform a 'milk test' - have a glass of milk as a 'snack' and then test to see how it effects you after one hour. If you get good results then you are able to tolerate milk well, if you see high blood sugar levels then it is best to avoid milk or swap to a different type of milk.
A splash of milk in tea or coffee should not impact blood sugar levels, but if you drink very milky tea or coffee, or when drinking larger amounts of milk, then you should include this drink within your meal or snack and incorporate this within your test times i.e. avoid eating and drinking these things before testing your one hour blood sugar level.
Different types of milk suitable for a GD diet:
- Cows Milk - Advisable to perform a 'milk test' as mentioned above. Full fat/whole milk is best for lowering blood sugar levels as fat slows down the absorption of sugars into the body
- Almond milk - low fat, low carb and aids food to breakdown and a source of vitamin E
- Soya Milk - low fat, high protein
- Coconut milk - low fat, source of vitamin B12
- Lacto-free Milk - cows milk with lactose removed
Non alcoholic versions of alcoholic drinks
Be wary of these as many contain high amounts of sugar, especially ciders, wines and mocktails! Mocktails etc. contain a lot of fruit juices which are very high in natural sugars.
One non alcoholic drink that a few ladies have had success with is Becks Blue which has 9g carbs per bottle. Due to the carbohydrate amount, ideally it would be best to drink this with or following a high protein meal and test levels after it (like you would food).
Summertime BBQ party drinks:
Why not make up a jug of the following;
- Lemon iced decaf tea
- Iced raspberry leaf tea
- Carbonated water with ice and slices of lemon & lime
- Carbonated water with ice and berries
- Carbonated water with ice, mint and cucumber slices
- Non alcoholic version of 'Pimms': 2 tblsp balsamic vinegar, 2 ltrs diet lemonade, lots of ice, mint, slices of orange, lemon, limes, cucumber and strawberries
!!! Hot on the Facebook group at the moment is the limited edition No added sugar Winter Spice Ribena. It does contain sugar, 1.8g total carbs per 250ml serving, but it makes a lovely warming winter drink to snuggle up with. Grab a bottle while you can!
Drinks to avoid, these drinks will raise blood sugar levels very fast:
- Pure or concentrated fruit juices eg. orange juice (OJ), apple juice
- Ready to drink juices eg. Oasis, Ribena
- Diluting squash e.g. full sugar versions of orange squash, Ribena, high-juices
- Full sugar carbonated drinks e.g. Coke/Pepsi, Ginger beer, Irn-Bru, Lilt, Lemonade, Tango
- Sports & energy drinks e.g. Lucozade, isotonic drinks, Red bull, protein shakes/drinks
- Milkshakes e.g. Yopp, Frijj, MacDonalds and Burger King milkshakes
- Smoothies e.g. Innocent smoothies
- Iced coffees and coolers with added syrups
- Hot chocolate e.g. full sugar hot chocolates
- Adding sugar to tea & coffee
Hydration levels, blood sugars and ketones
Being dehydrated can cause higher blood sugar levels and can lead to you producing ketones. Ketones can lead to a nasty condition which is not good for either your baby or you. For more information on ketones, please read more here.
Research and interesting articles