If you have been asked to look at the glycaemic index, it means that we are trying to balance your blood sugar. Whilst we need glucose to stay alive, too much of it in the blood is a bad thing. It is responsible for so many different health issues.
What is the glycaemic index?
The glycaemic index is a way of measuring food according to how it is broken down to glucose in the blood. It measures how much glucose is derived from each food. Any food that is a carbohydrate breaks down in the body into glucose. Whilst you might be aware of starchy carbs like pasta and bread, did you know that all fruits and vegetables are carbohydrate also? Certain dairy products and yoghurts convert to glucose and honey, maple syrup and all those "healthy "sugar alternatives are also carbohydrates and convert high on the scale.
The glycaemic index categorises foods into high, medium and low G.I foods (glycaemic index foods). Different carbohydrates convert to glucose at different levels. For example, a piece of broccoli converts to a low amount of glucose in comparison to a doughnut. Things like meats, oils and fats have a G.I index of zero as they contain no carbohydrates. Foods that are higher up on the scale cause a faster and steeper rise in glucose and insulin. Foods lower on the scale cause a more balanced response.
If you are trying to balance your blood sugar, it is essential that you totally avoid all high G.I foods and stick to the low G.I alternatives. It is ok to have some medium range foods every now and again. Generally speaking, you want to be choosing foods from the list that are 50/55 or less on the scale. It goes without saying that fizzy drinks - regardless of whether they are "sugar free" shouldn`t be drunk, neither should sweets, deserts or anything loaded in sugars. Be aware that "sugar free" options still have a similar effect on your insulin levels so just cut them out completely. You`ll thank me for it in the long-run.
What are the benefits of eating low G.I foods?
Eating low G.I foods will not only help balance your blood sugar but will keep you satiated for longer (the feeling of fullness you get after a meal). If you are trying to lose weight, eating low G.I foods is one of the best ways to see results the fastest.
If your energy levels have been on the low side, eating a low G.I diet will support you to regain your vigour. High G.I foods cause a huge insulin crash after the glucose has been cleared away, causing you to feel what can be debilitating fatigue. That doesn`t happen with Low G.I foods.
As most of the low G.I foods are super healthy, your body will thank you for the nutrient content of these foods and you will feel better and more vibrant in the long - run and as most of the foods are whole foods, you will be reducing your reliance on packaged foods.
There is scientific evidence that shows that following a low G.I diet can help to control the blood sugar in individuals with type 2 diabetes.
All of this means less chance of serious disease, more balanced hormones, less dehydration (high blood sugar is dehydrating at a cellular level), higher bodily nutrient content, less stress response (high G.I foods cause our adrenals to secrete cortisol) and more energy and vitality overall.
Don`t go hungry
It`s important that you avoid going hungry whilst balancing your blood sugar, so make yourself a healthy snack bag and eat small snacks in -between meals if necessary. All snacks and meals should ALWAYS contain some protein. Include nuts and seeds, nut butters and chopped apple, hummus and sliced carrots and celery, celery with peanut butter or any other healthy snack you can think of. Avoid dried fruit and sugary fruits like bananas, peaches and grapes etc.
The glycaemic index
Remember to regularly eat foods that are low G.I (below 50/55), occasionally eat medium G.I foods, and never eat high G.I foods.
If you look around on the internet, there are lots of different charts and they will vary slightly from one to another. The main message is the same in all of them though - keep away from refined carbohydrates (white bread/flour items ), sugary items, fructose, fruit juice, occasionally eat complex carbohydrates (wholegrain items) and load up on veggies, legumes, non-sweet fruits and berries, protein and healthy fats.
Also, you need to consider the amount of foods that you are eating in one go. it`s no good loading your plate with mountains of low G.I foods - the carbohydrate content will add up if you do this. Choose a small selection and eat them alongside a good source of protein and healthy fat.
Here are a couple of websites to get you started with the G. I index, which is too numerous to list on here.
This website is written alphabetically - find it here This website has a search option so you can look up a particular food - find it here
I have summarised starchy foods and fruits for you as a quick guide below.
Eating a low G.I diet is a great way to balance blood sugar, hormones, energy levels, mood and manage your weight. It is a less inflammatory way of eating and is nutrient dense if you stick to the low G.I foods. Aim for foods to be under 55 on the chart, and don`t combine too many or they will add up ! There are lots of charts online, but some are very different to others. Take a look at the ones I have provided. After a couple of weeks of eating this way, you should start to notice some remarkable differences in the way you are feeling and functioning.