Simple ways to follow a low-glycemic eating plan for better health

(BPT) - 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 low-GI diet is hard to follow. Others consider it an eating plan only for people living with diabetes. According to Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator Johanna Burani, these are myths. “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.

Want to commit to a low-GI lifestyle? Here are some easy tips to help you see results:

* Not sure which foods are high and low and where they rank on the GI? Researchers have determined the GI values of more than 2,500 foods. Tip: Check out resources like the Guide to a Low Glycemic Diet for Better Blood Glucose Control on fifty50foods.com to make informed food choices and stick to those lower on the GI.

* All carbohydrates are not the same. Some "gush" into your bloodstream and quickly spike your blood sugar. Others just "trickle" in slowly, keeping it low. 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 and from breakfast items like syrup and oatmeal to baking items like pie crust and crystalline fructose.

* Does following a low-GI diet mean you have to give up your favorite sweet treats? Fortunately not. Tip: Try a healthy twist on the old standard peanut butter cookie made with peanut butter, no added sugar and zero sodium.

* Can you eat out and maintain a low-GI diet? Yes, you can. Many restaurant menus feature healthier foods that are lower on the GI 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:

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

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.

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 are 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. “This applies to both those patients living with diabetes as well as those who want to improve their general health.”

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