The GI diet has been knocking around for a while, and is based upon a pretty scientific foundation. GI, or Glycaemic Index is a measure of how quickly carbs get turned to energy. The theory is that you mostly eat carbs that are slow to digest, so you stay fuller longer.
It’s not so simple #1: turns out there are other things going on: the quantity of carbs available is a factor which means some people recommend the Glycaemic Load or GL (basically GI normalised by the amount of carb available). So watermelon has a high GI (it releases sugar in the bloodstream pretty quickly) but low GL (there’s not much sugar to release).
It’s not so simple #2: GI can be affected by cooking – indeed combining a high GI food with a low GI food can result in a low GI food or a high GI food depending (either the low GI food dilutes the effect, or sugars get easier to digest after cooking).
It’s not so simple #3: Only foods which contain carbs have a GI, so protein and fat isn’t considered at all by this diet. So generally, low GI diets involve some kind of “don’t go mad on the fat” constraint – unless they’re strictly low carb diets as well.
There are lots of lists online – this one seems pretty comprehensive – but in summary here’s the lowdown on various things you (I) might want to eat:
|Good carbs||OK carbs||Bad carbs|
|Grains & breads: Oats, barley, buckwheat, bulgur wheat, wholemeal pasta, sourdough rye bread, spelt bread, pumpernickel bread, soya and linseed bread, all bran. Brown basmati, wholemeal pasta.
Veg & pulses: small new potatoes in skin, Peas, Sweet potatoes, sweetcorn. All green veg, tomatoes, olives, mushrooms. Most pulses. Butternut squash. Most nuts. Most pulses.
Fruit: most fruit, including dried apricots, dried apples, and prunes
|Grains & Breads: Brown rice, pasta, couscous, gnocchi, pitta bread, ryvita, oat biscuits, wholemeal rye bread, chapatis, pancakes.
Veg & pulses: beetroot, carrot, peeled potatoes.
Fruit: apricot, raisins, sultanas, pineapple, figs
|Grains & Breads: White bread, most breakfast cereal, gluten free bread, wholemeal bread, brown bread.
Veg & pulses: parsnips, swede, pumpkins, broad beans, jacket potatoes, mashed potatoes.
Fruit: Blackcurrant, cranberries, melon, lychees
The particular flavour of low GI diet I’m planning to follow comes from Anthony Worrall-Thompson’s book. I got this a long time ago, tried some of the recipes, and they were pretty good. He might be a Brexit Supporting Tory Shoplifter but hey if you buy the book secondhand he won’t get any support from it.
So what does Brexit Supporting Tory Shoplifter Anthony Worrall-Thompson have to say about the 3 problems with GI? In this book (I haven’t read his later tomes) he says: use low fat dairy, lean meats, poultry and game, fish and shellfish, pulses and nuts. Keep an eye on portion size. Don’t eat too much fat.
SO compared with last month, it’s a case of:
Down with Ryvita, white rice, Beetroot, carrot, potatoes, parsnips, raisins… and
Up with nuts, pulses, dried apricots, and low carb types of bread. Most excellently, Hummus is in which is going to be a pleasant change, and all the pulses mean one thing to me and that’s CURRY.