High and Low Glycemic Index Foods - Meal Planning

How have you modified your meal planning using low glycemic index foods?

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How can I plan my meals using the glycemic index?

So how can you use the glycemic index to plan meals and improve your health? It isn't easy. According to Ginn-Meadow, dietitians find it's most helpful to calculate a meal's total "glycemic load" to determine the overall effect that it will have on your blood sugar levels.

"Instead of consuming all foods high in carbohydrates at one meal, we also incorporate protein and heart-healthy oil," says Ginn-Meadow. "When we do that, we're able to lower that glycemic load."

To best use the glycemic index to guide your dietary decisions, you should:

  • Generally stick to foods with low or medium glycemic index values.
  • Include a mix of healthy foods with low and high glycemic index values when planning meals.
  • Keep in mind that many nutritious foods have a higher glycemic index than foods with little nutritional value. Oatmeal has a higher glycemic index than chocolate, for example.
  • Take portion sizes into account. The number of calories you eat matters just as much as the glycemic index of the food.

"If someone is trying to improve their meal quality, it can be a tool to use," says Ginn-Meadow. "That doesn't mean you can't have something high in glycemic index. It just means you should eat [foods with a low glycemic index] more often." As is often seen in most complicated biological systems, too much or too little of a dietary component is not good for the system; moderation of a dietary component, even one as important as glucose, is the better choice.

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