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High Fiber Menus Throughout the Holidays with the Glycemic Index


by Stephanie Shank, aka "Fiberlady"

And what do you want for Christmas this year, asks Fiberlady? GI? GI Joe? Sorry, but I cannot consciously support the military-industrial complex by purchasing idols of warmongers for children to reenact their misplaced power. Okay, go ahead. Tell Santa.

The only GI that I can conscientiously promote is the Glycemic Index otherwise known as the GI. Originally used to manage diabetes, the theory behind the Glycemic Index is simply to reduce insulin-related problems by identifying and monitoring foods that have the greatest effect on your blood sugar.

If you want to learn (it's as easy as buttering a carrot bran muffin), here's how it works. The Glycemic Index system ranks foods from 0 (good) to 100 (not so good) according to the effect on blood sugar levels after eating. Low-GI foods (less than 55) produce a gradual rise in blood sugar that's easy on the body, keeping blood sugar levels fairly tame. Foods between 55 and 70 are intermediate-GI foods. Foods with high-GI numbers (more than 70) make blood sugar as well as insulin levels quickly surge.

A GI value tells you only 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. Adding protein and/or fat or increasing acidity may alter the GI of any given carbohydrate-laden food.

Here's a simple comparison. White bread (GI=70), not a high fiber food by any means, is digested almost immediately to glucose, causing blood sugar to spike rapidly. Brown rice (GI=59), however, is digested more slowly, causing a lower and more subtle change in blood sugar. Once more. By eating a cup of All Bran cereal (GI=51), your blood sugar level will sustain you longer than a cup of corn flakes (GI=83). The numbers say it all. Corn Flakes brings up your blood sugar faster than All Bran. When blood sugar rises and falls rapidly, the body is stimulated to eat again. What? Never during the holidays.

During the holiday season you need to be particularly aware of a high fiber diet of which many are low to intermediate-GI foods. Otherwise you will be seeking a serious weigh loss plan in the new year from overeating refined and processed foods, i.e. cakes, pies, cookies.

To stave off the indulgences, eat low-GI foods such as beans, vegetables, fruits and certain whole-grains. These choices also effect the amount of fat absorbed in the body, and less calories to burn off. You stay full and away from that beckoning buffet! Fiberlady reminds you that they don't call it the holiday spread for nothing.

High fiber foods are crucial when balancing a low glycemic diet. Your blood sugar will maintain a slow, even rate so you can ease your way through holiday gatherings without too many ups and downs. You really can't fumble this balancing act because high fiber foods provide the perfect safety net on the Glycemic Index. It might be enough reason to bring GI Joe home for the holidays.

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Stephanie Shank aka "Fiberlady" has studied nutrition for many healthy years which prompted her commitment to a high fiber lifestyle and the development of her informative website High Fiber Health.

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