No Time to Cook?
The home meal replacement market is here to stay. It’s a trend, not a fad – and it can provide a healthier option than a takeaway meal for time-pressed and kitchen-shy consumers who want to be able to open the fridge (or freezer) door, take their pick, heat and eat. There’s no question it’s handy. But with a worldwide obesity boom, how healthy is it? Here are six GI tested, single serving mixed meals available in Australian supermarkets. They were formulated by the manufacturers to be nutritionally balanced. The LEAN Cuisine meals also meet the GI Symbol program’s strict nutritional criteria regarding fat, saturated fat and sodium. Pre-portioned meals like these can help you avoid over-eating (if you stop at one). Just remember to sit down at the table while you eat and eat slowly – it takes 20 minutes before your stomach tells your brain that you're full. Toss a simple salad together for starters and finish with a piece of fruit to help you get your seven servings of fruit and veggies a day.
LEAN Cuisine Wholegrain Goodness range (Nestlé)
‘These low GI meals were specifically developed by Nestlé to meet consumer requests for healthy, sustaining heat-and-eat meals that would reduce their afternoon snacking and night-time cravings,’ says Penny Small, Manager Corporate Nutrition, Nestlé Australia Limited. ‘Initial sales have exceeded expectations,’ she says ‘which all goes to show that given a real choice, time-poor consumers will take the healthy option when it’s offered.’
International GI symbol
GI tested at Sydney University’s Glycemic Index Research Service (www.glycemicindex.com), the LEAN Cuisine meals carry the international GI symbol, which gives consumers a credible, independent signpost to healthier food choices. For more information on the Glycemic Index Symbol Program’s nutritional requirements, go to www.gisymbol.com and select ‘industry information’ from the menu then ‘program eligibility’ and finally ‘nutrient requirements’.
Burmese Vegetable Curry & Rice GI 50
Chicken Pomodoro GI 47
Honey Soy Beef GI 53
Sanitarium Lunch Today
These lunches/light meals were developed by Sanitarium to be 98% fat free and to include as many whole foods as possible. The Sweet Vegetable Risotto for example is 63% veggies and the Fajita 55% veggies plus 9% legumes. They were GI tested at Sanitarium Development and Innovation. (GI Group note: for the purposes of GI testing, the use of small glucometers is not ideal, as demonstrated by Valangi et al 2005).
Mediterranean Pasta GI 49
Sweet Vegetable Risotto GI 59
Mexican Fajita GI 52
What’s the GI of …? A Step-by-Step Guide to the GI Database on www.glycemicindex.com
Use the database to find the GI value of your favourite carbohydrate foods that have been tested over the past 25 years from all around the world. You can also check the glycemic load (GL) and grams of carbohydrate per serve. If you want to dig a little deeper, you can see where and when the food was tested and whether the test subjects were healthy or had diabetes. Although our database is the most comprehensive GI database resource on the web, we don’t have the GI values of every carbohydrate food tested. Sometimes food companies prefer not to publish the GI of their products, and sometimes they don’t want their foods tested at all.
Go to www.glycemicindex.com and click on the GI Database link in the left-hand menu.
To search for ‘beans’ for example, insert ‘beans’ in the ‘Name of the Food’ box and click search.
To refine your search, use the less than (<) and greater than (>) symbols, to tell the database to show you only foods containing beans with a GI less than 55 and a GL greater than 20. Use the drop-down menu on the far right, to tell the database to sort the results by the GI and in ascending order.
Now click on the actual food name (the text will change colour) and the following page appears.
The GI of the kidney beans was calculated using glucose as the standard. The serve (in grams) refers to the nominal serving size. This value is then used to calculate the GL value for each product. For example:
Red Kidney Beans
Serve (g): 150 g
CHO/serve (g): 60.3
GL = 31
In this case the test period was the standard 2 hours where a total of 9 finger-prick blood samples were taken in 10 subjects over that period (this includes 3 fasting samples). The subjects were ‘normal’ which means they were healthy volunteers. In some tests, ‘Type 2’ refers to testing in people with type 2 diabetes. Finally, the reference shows where the food was tested and in which journal the results were published if applicable.