By: Kelly Atyeo, B.A.Sc., M.H.Sc., P.H.Ec.
When you eat a meal your blood sugar levels increase, which is necessary because it’s your blood that must transfer the sugar to your cells for energy! However, if you have certain conditions like prediabetes or diabetes your blood sugar levels stay higher than normal after a meal. If you are predisposed to these conditions, it is important to carefully monitor your blood sugar levels. One key way to manage blood sugar is through diet, which is where the Low Glycemic Diet comes into play.1
What are the components of the diet?
In order to identify foods in a low glycemic index diet – you must understand what the Glycemic Index (GI) measures. The GI is a scale that ranks how much carbohydrate-rich foods raise blood sugar levels after a meal when compared to a slice of white bread. 1,2 Foods that are low on the Index (55 or less) don’t raise blood sugar levels as much as foods high on the Index (70 or more).1,2
The following foods are low on the glycemic index for you to choose as your carbohydrate sources:1,2
- 100% stone-ground whole grain bread
- All bran
- Sweet potatoes
In addition to making wise carbohydrate choices, following a low-glycemic index diet also includes:1,2
- eating at regular times
- adding a variety of foods to your diet from all food groups
- limiting processed foods, sugars and salt
- eating high-fibre foods (i.e. non-starchy vegetables like dark, leafy greens, peppers, spinach)
A deeper look at this diet…
When following a low-GI diet, it’s about the total effect of the foods you eat on your blood sugar levels. In general, it’s recommended to eat at least one low-GI food at each meal.2,3 Also, combining a low-GI food with a high-GI food during a meal may help balance the effect on your blood sugar.2,3
If you wish to follow a low-GI diet to help manage diabetes or prediabetes – consult a Registered Dietitian to build an individualized nutrition plan for you. They will be able to work with you to identify what foods/combinations of foods will help keep your blood sugar at a normal level.
Chicken & the low Glycemic Index
Chicken is a perfect protein to make a fantastic low-glycemic meal. Because chicken doesn’t contain any carbohydrates, it has little effect on blood sugar levels.3 However, be sure that the chicken recipes you make contain foods that are also low-GI!
Low GI inspired Recipes
The following recipes are low in carbohydrate, low-fat and high in protein and may fit your low-GI nutrition plan!
West Indian Grilled Chicken & Shrimp Kabobs
Simple Tip: If you want to transform this to a low GI lunch for the next day, grill a few more kabobs and put the shrimp on a bread of spinach with a low fat balsamic dressing!
Asparagus Chèvre Chicken for One
Simple Tip: Keep your chicken moist by cooking it with the skin on and then removing it prior to eating. You’ll get a tender piece of meat with less fat!
Easiest Ever Thai Chicken Express
Simple Tip: Choose your side dishes wisely! Cook brown, wild rice or basmati rice, which have a lower Glycemic index than regular white rice. Or bulk up your plate with a side of greens (spinach, kale, broccoli!).4
Canadian Diabetes Association. (2014). The Glycemic Index. Retrieved December 18, 2014, from www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/diet-nutrition/the-glycemic-index
American Diabetes Association. (2014). Glycemic Index. Retrieved December 18, 2014, from www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/glycemic-index-and-diabetes.html
University of Sydney. (2011). GI FAQ. Retrieved December 18, 2014, from www.glycemicindex.com/faqsList.php
American Diabetes Association. (2014). Glycemic Index and Diabetes. Retrieved January 20, 2015, from www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/glycemic-index-and-diabetes.html