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PLEASE Don't Bring Me Donuts Anymore! (or How to Lighten Your Glycemic Load)



by Susan Fekety, RN, MSN, CNM



Earlier this week I taught one of my favorite classes – about lowering the glycemic impact of your eating style. High-glycemic eating raises your blood sugar and urges you to overproduce insulin, a combo which sets you up to gain weight and potentially to develop diabetes, heart disease, and other bad diseases. Getting a handle on it is an extremely powerful intervention, as in "I feel great and look how baggy my trousers are!" As Congress debates whether to subsidize fruits and vegetables just a little bit the way they subsidize grains (oh please, oh please, let them do this!) consider detaching yourself from the low-fat/high carbohydrate paradigm. You deserve it!

I'll spare you the sugar-is-bad-for-you rap because unless you've been living under a rock you know that already. You might NOT know that many foods you consider "good" are digested into blood sugar so quickly they almost might as well be candy bars. These are the high-glycemic-impact foods. Unless you want to end up in my office in your forties feeling fat, depressed, tired, and old all over, try replacing these with foods that are metabolically more gentle. (Please don't make the mistake of trying to eliminate carbohydrates altogether – this is equally bad for you but in a different way.)

For instance, white potatoes and rice cakes convert to sugar really quickly as you digest them. Replacement? A couple whole-grain crackers or sweet potatoes, carrots, beets or beans will give you similar starchy comfort plus some colorful micronutrients and far less sugar spike. Starchy foods in general are best eaten a half cup at a time – about the size of a tennis ball. Flour-based products (bread, noodles) should be made of whole grains only. Donate your giant pasta plates to the Goodwill; REAL Mediterraneans are eating vegetables. Try a bed of sautéed spinach with garlic under your grilled chicken breast instead of a mountain of vermicelli or rice.

Dairy foods and fruits are fine foods but also have high sugar impact. Take those little cups of yogurt with fruit on the bottom. Looking closely at a yogurt label, you might see a number close to 40 under "grams of carbohydrate." This figure reflects the lactose (milk sugar) in the yogurt, the natural sugars in the fruits, plus whatever was added to make that jelly goo. There are four grams of sugar in a teaspoonful, so a yogurt with 40 grams of carbohydrate is about equal to eating TEN teaspoons of sugar. Spoon that much out of a bowl and see what a big pile you make. (I call this "sugar show and tell.") Try plain Greek yogurt (or cottage cheese) and a small quantity of fresh fruit instead.

Finally, a low glycemic food style does not include fruit juice, even those cute natural ones with the bright colored labels. These are metabolically the equivalent of a soda pop with some naturally occurring vitamins. In nature, fruit sugar comes with fruit fiber – so have your oranges and berries whole instead. In fact, try to have all your foods as close as possible to the way they came out of the ground. Eating "close to the earth" will keep you standing a whole lot longer!




Article © Copyright 2007 by Susan Fekety. All rights reserved worldwide. Duplication or reprints only with express permission of the author or, for a nonprofit purpose, without consent so long as the author's name and contact information are included as follows: "Reproduced with permission from Susan Fekety," These articles are provided for informational purposes only. Their content is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own health care professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem promptly contact your health care provider.




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