Simple Steps to a Low-Glycemic Lifestyle

The next generation of senior citizens will be sicker and costlier to the health care system over the next 14 years than previous generations, according to a new report from the United Health Foundation. The report looks at the current health status of people ages 50 to 64 and compares them to the same ages in 1999.

There will be about 55 percent more senior citizens who have diabetes than there are today, and about 25 percent more who are obese. Overall, the report says that the next generation of seniors will be 9 percent less likely to say they have good or excellent overall health. That’s bad news for baby boomers. Health care costs for people with diabetes are about 2.5 times higher than for those without, according to the study.

In order to regulate diabetes, one has to ensure a proper diet. Adopting a diet that mainly consists of foods ranking low on the Glycemic Index (GI) can help you have a consistent energy level, feel calmer, improve cholesterol levels and lose weight. So, why aren’t more people following a low-glycemic diet and reaping these health advantages?

Some say a the diet is hard to follow. Others consider it an eating plan only for people living with diabetes. Neither is true, though. Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator Johanna Burani shares some easy strategies to begin or maintain a low-GI diet.

“As an ‘in the trenches’ dietitian, I have consistently seen how easily my patients learn to incorporate Low-GI foods into their meal plans and how happy (and relieved) they are with their results,” says Burani, the author of Good Carbs, Bad Carbs.

Want to commit to a Low-GI lifestyle? Here are some easy tips:

Not sure which foods are high and low and where they rank on the GI? Researchers have determined the Glycemic Index (GI) values of more than 2,500 foods. Tip: Download and keep handy this Guide to a Low Glycemic Diet for Better Blood Glucose Control to make informed food choices and stick to those lower on the GI.

All carbohydrates are not the same. Some  (white rolls, English muffins, potatoes) “gush” into your blood stream and quickly spike your blood sugar. Others just “trickle” in slowly, keeping it low. Some examples: grains like barley, brown rice, and quinoa; legumes; unsweetened dairy foods; and many fresh fruits, including oranges, apples, grapefruit and berries. Tip: Know your carbs and choose “tricklers” not “gushers”.

Selecting more medium to low-GI foods will help you maximize the performance of your workout or exercise. Tip: If you are doing endurance exercises, try consuming a moderate to low-GI meal before exercising for sustained carb availability.

“Following a low-GI eating plan is easy since most foods are commonly found in supermarkets,” says Burani. For example, specialty food brand Fifty50 Foods has a broad line of certified low-glycemic items ranging from peanut butters and fruit spreads to candies and cookies to breakfast items like syrup and oatmeal to baking items like pie crust and crystalline fructose.

Can you eat out and maintain a low-GI diet? Yes, you can! Many restaurant menus feature healthier foods so you can dine at your favorite spot without guilt. Tip: Do your homework in advance to identify the low-GI selections on the menu. Here are a few options by cuisine:

o   Chinese: Order noodles (egg, rice, or mung bean), vegetables and lean proteins. Say ‘no’ to Asian-style sticky white rice and deep-fried foods.

o   Italian: Pick pasta, seafood and meat dishes or thin-crust pizza topped with vegetables. Don’t overload the cheese or go heavy on the sauces.

o   Fast food. Go for the salad and avoid hamburgers and fries. Most fast food items have high-GI values since they are processed and also very high in fat and sodium. Choose wisely!

“Once my patients start feeling and seeing the results of low-GI eating they become committed to making this a lifestyle,” says Burani, who is part of an endocrine practice in Wayne, New Jersey. “This applies to both those patients living with diabetes as well as those who want to improve their general health.”


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