When we eat, most foods are converted into glucose (blood sugar). The feature of carbohydrates however, is that they produce higher levels of sugar in the blood than proteins and fats. So, based on this information, should you avoid eating carbohydrates if you have diabetes type 2? NO. What you need to do is to be selective with the type of carbohydrates you eat because some of them raise blood sugar levels more than others.
To help us being selective with carbohydrates, scientists have classified them based on the quantity of sugar produced in the blood after a meal. They created a list of foods and they named it The Glycemic index (GI).
What is the Glycemic food index good for?
The Glycemic food index helps us predict increases in our blood sugar levels after we eat carbohydrates. This index was calculated by feeding a group of volunteers and then conducting blood tests on them at short intervals. The results of the tests were a clear evidence that some foods raise the level of blood sugar significantly while others increase it very little.
Based on the tests results, the scientists who carried out the experiment, classified carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100. They gave high numbers to foods causing high blood sugar raises. We’ll call them “bad carbohydrates”. Low numbers were given to foods that caused small increases in blood sugar. We’ll call them “good carbohydrates”.
A list of some bad carbohydrates
Just to name a few, here are some bad carbohydrates you need to avoid. This advice is good both for people with diabetes type 2 and for people who don’t have the disease. It can be a preventive step.
Pancakes (refined white flour)
Sugary breakfast cereals
Jam with sugar added
Beverages such as juices of fruits, Coca Cola, etc.
A list of some good carbohydrates
Whole grain breads and cereals with no sugar added
Pasta cooked al dente (cooked 5 to 6 minutes),
Legumes such as lentils, beans and chickpeas.
Diabetes type 2 and a glycemic diet
As you have probably guessed by now, basing your meals on the foods that have a low glycemic index is a way to prevent diabetes type 2, and if you are already there, it is a way to keep your blood sugar levels at bay, which is the main goal of a diabetic person. Remember that diabetes complications are quite serious, but they can be prevented. To help with the process, base your meals on the glycemic index.
A low glycemic diet helps you lose weight
Although the above-mentioned studies were conducted to help people with diabetes, scientists found out to their surprise that people following a diet based on the glycemic index were also losing weight and maintaining the weight loss. The conclusion was that most of the times, excess weight is the result of a wrong selection of foods which leads to an abnormal storage of fats and sugars in the fat cells of the body.
Eating according to the principles of the glycemic index does not mean you need to starve or deprive yourself of tasty foods. In fact, eating this way can be very tasty. And what is even more important, it will help you control your blood sugar and lose weight. If you are diabetic and overweight, isn’t this your goal? Thus, don’t wait too much longer to start making changes in your diet and be surprised at your A1c test results next time you go to your doctor’s appointment to have one done. Your doctor will also be pleasantly surprised and may reduce the amount of medication you are taking. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
To your health!
Emilia Klapp, RD, BS
Your Diabetes Coach
Helping you lower blood sugar with nutrition and exercise