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Your GI Eating Guide to Shaping Up
What’s all the fuss about?
Dietitians have been using it for years to help diabetic patients to control their blood glucose levels…elite athletes employ it to regulate their energy levels and stamina…and now it’s become the most fashionable remedy for an expanding waistline!

But the GI Eating Guide is not about amazing celebrity shrinkage, deprivation or stunning inch loss in minutes….it’s about understanding how certain foods can release their sugars slowly into the bloodstream, and supply a steady source of energy with no unruly peaks and troughs. You see, not all carbohydrates are the same. In the same way that not all fats are bad – not all carbohydrates are necessarily good for us either. Research continues to confirm that carbohydrates with a low GI (glycaemic index) are better for our hearts and our waistlines. They make us feel fuller for longer after we’ve eaten which helps us to eat fewer calories during the day.

With the sheer abundance of food choices we are faced with, the problem for many people is how to navigate the huge sea of calories around them. As dieting has become more contagious than measles, your GI Eating Guide will help you enjoy foods that are healthy and nutritious, from each of the four major groups ensuring an ample intake of fibre, vitamins, minerals, essential fats and phytonutrients. And you can lose weight too without starving…..
The new way to eat
To begin with …let’s not forget the basic rule of CICO.
Calories In must equal Calories Out for you to stay the same weight as you are now. But the fewer calories you eat and the more you burn off, the more weight you lose.

There are heaps of calories in alcohol and very processed foods, chips, fried foods, soft drinks, biscuits, cakes, confectionery etc. These are the primary targets for elimination!

You can still fill your plate with the same amount of food – it’s just that these foods must contain a lot more water and fibre - like fruits and salad vegetables to fill you up, without the calorific load.

You can enjoy moderate amounts of fats but regularly choose foods that contain monounsaturated fats (olive or rapeseed oil) and omega 3 fats (oily fish and linseeds) over saturated animal fats (butter, cream, hard cheese) and partially hydrogenated fats (biscuits, crackers, spreads).

It helps to divide your plate into four sections – two quarters for fresh or salad vegetables, one for protein rich foods such as peas, beans, lentils, oily fish, white fish, turkey, chicken or lean red meat and the last quarter for low GI carbohydrates.

Nutrients don’t all give us the same feelings of fullness or satiety. Their satiating power works as follow;
Proteins > Low GI carbs > medium GI carbs > High GI Carbs > Fats.
…where protein and low GI carbohydrates have a greater ability to fill us for longer than fats.
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Low GI Foods
Choose lots of low GI carbohydrates as your staples during the week. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables from this group but think of pasta and rice as side orders (1/4 plate), rather than the main food on your plate.

Beans (green, runner)
Cannelloni beans
Citrus fruits
Kidney beans
Milk (use skimmed or low fat)
Muesli (unsweetened)
Oat bran
Pasta (dried or fresh, wholemeal)
Pearl barley
Porridge oats
Medium GI foods
These are examples of foods which you can enjoy moderately. Some however are high in saturated fat and calories such as chocolate and therefore warrant further restrictions when you’re slimming.

Basmati rice
Boiled potatoes
Cous cous
100% wholegrain bread
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High GI foods
These are examples of foods you’re aiming to eat less often. They tend to be quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, triggering the pancreas to release lots of insulin and leave you feeling hungry again soon after you’ve eaten. There are some surprises here e.g. watermelon, carrots, parsnips etc. You can make an exception for these fruits and vegetables if you eat them as part of a meal with a high-protein or good-fat component because both protein and fat decrease the glycaemic load of the meal.

Bread (brown and white sliced)
Breakfast cereals (refined)
Cereal bars
Jelly beans
Potatoes (mashed and baked)
Rice (white)
Rice cakes
Soft drinks (regular)
Need a benchmark?
Many people use the mirror and bathroom scales to monitor their weight over time. However if you’re still not clear about what’s a healthy weight for you - use the Body Mass Index (BMI) chart below.

Get yourself a tape measure…..

It’s not just a question of carrying a few extra pounds – where you deposit them is important too. If your waist measurement is greater than 32 inches (for women) or 37 inches (for men), your health is seriously at risk.
What are you hungry for ?
Frequently it’s not food we’re hungry for but:
Relief from boredom
A way to relieve anger
A way to deal with loneliness or stress
The basic point is if we address what we’re really hungry for, we will be less tempted to turn to food to satisfy these hungers. Sometimes we assume we can only deal with certain issues, such as loneliness, depression, boredom, after we’ve first taken control of our diet and we’re back to the weight we were 20 years ago. Yet it’s a mistake to assume that dieting must come first. In fact we will be much more successful with the dieting if we are also learning to handle other problems in our lives.

So the next time you’re hungry - satisfy it, but with what you are really hungry for!
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Ten Quick Reminders
1. Be prepared for the day you run out of fresh food. Always have your fridge freezer and presses stocked with low GI foods such as frozen peas and green beans, frozen berries, frozen quorn, cans of kidney and cannelloni beans, oat bran, wholemeal pasta, basmatic rice, porridge oats for home-made muesli and plenty of nuts and seeds.

2. Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast.

3. If you get hungry in between meals, eat low GI fruit, some raw veg & hummus or a small handful of nuts to keep you going.

4. Get rid of processed white foods from your kitchen e.g. white bread and bagels, white rice and refined breakfast cereals.

5. Choose wholemeal pasta and basmati, brown and unrefined rice instead. Try not to eat more than two slices of 100% wholegrain bread each day. Think variety!

6. Vegetables and salads should fill half your plate.

7. Don’t over-cook, mash or puree your food. This increases the GI of the food. Leave your body do most of the work -chewing well and more slowly, digesting and absorbing the nutrients.

8. Eat more monounsaturated (olive/rapeseed) and omega 3 (oily fish) fats than saturated (butter, cream) or partially hydrogenated fats (spreads).

9. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can eat as much chocolate (medium GI) as you want and not put on weight. Likewise you don’t have to give up all high GI foods. Weight control is based on total calorie intake.

10. Don’t throw away good fibre from plant foods by juicing. Stick to one small glass of juice each day and eat the rest of your fruit and veg whole.
Your Sample GI Menu
Breaking the fast

Bowl of unsweetened muesli.
Top it with low fat bio yoghurt and berries or your favourite seeds.

Mid morning

Apple, pear, orange or 12 grapes
500ml water (flavour with slices of lemon or lime)

Lunch break

Thick slice of goat’s cheese or 2 heaped tablespoon of hummus.
Served with salad of mixed leaves, thin slivers of red pepper, cucumber and ¼ avocado, sprinkled with pine nuts.
500ml water

Mid afternoon

Small handful (8-10) of your favourite nut – cashew, walnut, pistachio
500ml of water

Evening wind-down
Seared Fresh Tuna with Pasta and Green Beans
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Seared Fresh Tuna with Pasta and Green Beans
Enough for 2 people
2 fresh tuna steaks
100g green beans (trimmed and halved)
Half a red pepper, sliced thinly
Two inches of courgette, sliced thinly
A small red onion, sliced thinly
100g wholemeal pasta
Dressing – put the following ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
4 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
Cook the pasta and drain.

Steam, microwave or stir-fry the vegetables until cooked but still firm.

Brush the tuna steaks with olive oil and sear in the pan, turning at least once, for 8 minutes. Break into chunks.

Put the tuna chunks, vegetables and pasta into a serving bowl. Pour over the dressing. Toss and serve immediately.
Acidic fruits such as citrus fruits (lemons, oranges and grapefruits) have low GIs. Likewise lemon juice and vinegar (as in a salad dressing) can help to reduce the glycaemic load of the meal.

Did you know?
The Glycaemic Load (GL) is a relatively new way to assess the impact of carbohydrate consumption that takes the glycaemic index (GI) into account, but gives a fuller picture than does the GI alone. A GI value tells you how rapidly a particular carbohydrate turns into glucose. It doesn’t tell you how much of that carbohydrate is in a serving of a particular food. You need to know both things to understand a foods effect on blood sugar.

That’s why the GI should not be your only criterion when selecting what to eat. The total amount and type of carbohydrate, the amount and type of fat and protein, the fibre and salt content are also important.

Enjoy your GI Guide.
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Keep in mind that research on these matters is on-going and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.
© Paula Mee 2015
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