Glycemic Index and Diabetes
glycemic index indicates the after-meal response your body has to a
particular food compared to a standard amount of glucose. If that sounds
complicated — it is! Many factors come into play, including your age and
activity level, the amount of fiber and fat in the particular food, how
refined (processed) the food is, what else was eaten with the food, what
the composition of the food is in terms of carb, protein and fat, how the
food was cooked, and how quickly your body digests the food (which varies
from person to person).
general, fiber-rich foods are often the same foods that are thought to be
low glycemic foods and seem to have less effect on blood glucose. Sucrose
(table sugar) also has a lower effect on blood glucose than some
starches, such as potatoes. There are lists of such "high" and
"low" glycemic index foods.
professionals agree that the more complex a meal plan is,
the less likely people are to follow it. The glycemic index is a fairly
complex meal planning tool, and the fact that people's blood glucose
can react differently to so-called "low" and "high"
glycemic index foods has limited the usefulness of the index in teaching
patients with diabetes how to manage their food intake to keep their blood glucose
under control. However, the glycemic index may be be
used as an additional tool together with a patient's current meal planning
system. Registered dietitians often encourage patients to determine their
own individual glycemic index of foods based on how their blood glucose
responds to the various meals and snacks they tend to eat.
dietitians and other healthcare professionals working with patients prefer
to talk in terms of the number of grams of carbohydrate in a food, rather
than the "glycemic index" of a food. Carbohydrate has the
greatest effect on blood glucose, so in general two foods that have the
same number of grams of carbohydrate in them will have a similar effect on
your blood glucose level. Your dietitian works with you to determine
— based on your weight, how active you are, and other factors — how
many grams of carbohydrate you can eat at each meal and snack to keep your
blood glucose under control. This type of meal planning is simpler to
use, offers greater flexibility, and enables many people to manage their
you have type
you may have been advised by your healthcare team to change your diet, and
incorporate healthier foods. In addition, you may have visited with a dietitian
and mapped out a personalized meal plan to help you reach weight-loss or
glucose-control goals. But what happens when despite your best efforts, you
still crave a food that’s not so healthy? For people with diabetes, this can
be a serious problem.
experiences cravings for foods," states
the difference between hunger and appetite.
According to Chalmers and Campbell, few people understand the difference between
real hunger and appetite. "Hunger is more physiological, whereas appetite
is more psychological," they state. The authors advise that it may take
some time to distinguish one from the other, but eventually, it can be done. So
the next time you experience a "craving," remember to ask yourself
whether it is hunger talking, or your brain only imagining it needs food. Also,
it is important to check your blood glucose (sugar) when you experience these
feelings to make sure you’re not low.
your "emotional triggers." Many
people use food as a source of comfort, which can lead to the consumption of
excess calories, and, as the authors point out, eating for comfort doesn’t
really solve the problems that cause us to eat in the first place. If stress
causes you to eat, Chalmers and Campbell recommend channeling
that energy elsewhere—such as going for a walk, calling a friend, or
participating in any other activity you enjoy.
when to give in.
Yes, you read that statement correctly. Chalmers and Campbell don’t recommend
completely cutting out your favorite foods, or always denying yourself what you
truly crave. They say this is especially true when you’ve tried all other
measures, and still feel the need to indulge. The authors recommend you indulge
with reservation, however, and only eat a small portion of what you crave, since
satisfying a craving and binging on a particular food is not the same thing.
you need help, don’t hesitate to talk with a therapist or counselor who
specializes in the area of eating disorders. He or she can help you change how
you think about and react to food and eating," state Chalmers and Campbell.
with diabetes should also check their blood sugar frequently in order to
differentiate between low glucose and a craving. Be sure to always carry your
glucose meter with you and test when you can’t tell if your craving is
actually low blood glucose.