Healthy Eating/Recipes

Glycemic Index – tool or toy?

The glycemic index has fascinated the medical community for almost 40 years and after all this time, I’m not certain we are of one mind about how to use it or even its value.

Two U of Toronto physicians, in an attempt to better treat their patients with Type 1 diabetes, came up with the idea of studying individual food’s influence on blood sugar.

Prior to their work, we thought simple carbohydrates raise blood sugar quickly and predictably. And, we assumed all complex carbohydrates acted alike and raised blood sugar more slowly. We stuck with that theory until specific foods were tested.

Diabetic or not, none of us wants a rapid rise in blood sugar.

Briefly, the glycemic index (GI) scale (0-100) is a reflection of the body’s response to one specific food as measured against the body’s response to glucose.

Today, one sees lists of high-, moderate- and low-glycemic index foods. Theoretically, these lists should be helpful for you when selecting carbohydrate-containing food. Pretzels are in the “high” category which means it will raise your blood sugar faster than ice cream (moderate category) – surprising and probably not all that helpful.

But it gets more confusing. Many variables alter a food’s glycemic index: ripeness, food preparation method, cooking time. Pasta for example cooked al dente has a lower value than pasta cooked longer.

Fat eaten along with a carb-containing food lowers the index. Ditto fiber, ditto acid (vinegar or lemon juice).  Variety of the fruit or vegetable?  Sure, GI changes with produce variety too.

So, while some professionals put great faith in GI lists and now “glycemic load”, I think it makes choosing foods more complicated than necessary. Let’s go back to the basics – limit your processed or “manufactured” food.

And don’t eat so much to be well,





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Help is on the way!

So, our spring semester is well underway and my college students are beginning to analyze their diets; they are using “Super Tracker” software on a government website,

The day I’m grading the first part of their assignment, I get an email stating Super Tracker will no longer be available after July 1st. Bummer. It’s “free” (thank you for your tax dollars), simple and straightforward.

On the same day, I get an email from  Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Maureen Bligh, who says take a look at this meal planner the Dairy Council of California has on line. A solution was handed to me before I even formed the question – what will I have my students use in the future?

YOU absolutely have to click on this link and answer the questions “Assessing My Habits” even if you don’t intend to do anything else on the site. The seven questions tell you everything you need to know about healthy or not-so-healthy lifestyles.

It will take one minute of your time and be SO WORTHWHILE.

As Nike would say Just Do It to be well,


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