Ever wondered how following a low GI eating plan might benefit you?
Just like with other areas of life, it’s good to have a plan – a financial plan (whether that just means paying your bills on time), an entertainment ‘plan’ (making time for things you enjoy, no matter how small)… you get the idea. An eating plan can is basically a set of guidelines that you try to abide to most of the time. A low GI eating plan is shown to include more fibre and calcium and less unnecessary fats. This type of eating plan is especially good for both pre-diabetics and diabetics.
A low GI eating plan would typically be made up of the following:
- Milk and dairy foods – reduced or low fat and unsweetened varieties of milk and dairy foods are the best choices.
- Bread – wholegrain, fruit loaf and sourdough.
- Breakfast cereals – traditional porridge, natural muesli and some high fibre varieties (>5g fibre/100g).
- Pasta and noodles – wholegrain varieties.
- Some varieties of rice – ‘Basmati’ and brown rice varieties are moderate to low GI.
- Grains – barley, bulgur and semolina.
- Legumes – beans (e.g. baked beans, kidney beans, soy beans), peas (e.g. chickpeas, split peas) and lentils.
- Fruit – apple, orange, pear, peach, grapes, kiwi fruit, banana, plums.
- Vegetables – most vegetables have low amounts of carbohydrate and therefore have little effect on your blood glucose levels. Vegetables with a significant amount of carbohydrate include potato, sweet potato, yams and sweet corn. Orange sweet potato, yams and sweet corn are the lower GI choices.
The glycaemic index is a ranking of carbohydrate foods based on the effect they have on blood glucose (sugar) levels after consumption. After an overnight fast subjects are fed foods that contain 50grams of carbohydrate and their subsequent blood glucose levels are measured. Foods that are deemed high GI are rapidly digested and absorbed, resulting in a greater rise in blood sugar levels, while foods deemed low GI are slowly digested and absorbed resulting in a lower rise in blood sugar levels. So, you may see some foods, such as carrots on a ‘high GI’ food list – but one would have to eat almost a kg of carrots to get 50g of carbohydrate as carrots are mostly made up of water and fibre.
The down side to the glycemic index is that it can make some foods that are really good for you seem undesirable and vice versa, and therefore the interpretation of ‘low and high’ GI food lists still requires some common sense.
Low GI eating plan example day
1 cup of wholegrain oats, 2 tsp ground linseed, 2 tsp chia seeds, ½ cup fresh fruit, 3 tbsp unsweetened yoghurt, ¾ cup trim milk
Snacks/supper – ½ cup unsweetened yoghurt and ½ cup frozen berries; piece of fresh fruit and glass of milk; carrot sticks and hummus
Chickpea salad – 1 cup chickpea, cucumber and tomato (unlimited), ¼ cup feta, 2 tsp pumpkin seeds, fresh mint, ½ tbsp. olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice – add a handful of chopped chicken or 2 boiled eggs to boost protein
Chilli bean burritos with coleslaw – 1 wholemeal tortilla wrap, ½ chilli beans, 1 cup chopped mushrooms, 1 cup coleslaw (small amount of dressing), 1 tbsp light sour cream; 1 cup green vege on the side (courgette, peas…)
Tip – Stop looking for the ‘healthiest breakfast cereal’. Choose something plain like oats or weetbix and add your own flavour and nutrients – ground linseed, chia seeds, fruit (dried or fresh), nuts and if you need… sugar!!! You’ll save money and I guarantee you will never add as much sugar as the commercially produced varieties!