1 June 2007

Feedback—Your FAQs Answered

My 10-year-old daughter has recently been diagnosed with insulin resistance. We are already eating a low GI diet but I need some help with portion sizing and interesting meals that are kid-friendly. I am having great difficulty finding this information – can you give me some advice?
‘That’s a tough one,’ says dietitian Kaye Foster-Powell who helped us answer this. ‘Insulin resistance at age 10. It may be a good idea to consult a registered dietitian with special expertise in children’s needs as well as an understanding of the GI, in the meantime, here are some ideas.’

A typical day

  • Breakfast: ½ cup of cooked porridge made from traditional oats (not instant) with a teaspoon of sugar or honey served with ½ cup low fat milk
  • Lunch: Low GI bread sandwich including 2 slices of bread, 2 teaspoons of canola margarine, 60 g (2 oz) of chicken, lean roast beef or pork, egg or canned fish with a couple of vegetable serves either as salad on the sandwich or served separately as carrot, celery, red capsicum, cucumber bits, grape tomatoes, baby beets, etc.
  • Dinner: Around 80–100 g (2½–3 ½ oz) lean meat or chicken or 150 g (5½ oz) fish + 2 starchy serves and plenty of veggies.
Plus the following incorporated as part of these meals or as snacks:
  • 1 cup of low fat fruit yoghurt
  • An apple
  • 2 mandarins
  • A cup of low fat milk
Some typical main meals
  • 1 cup of pasta with 1 cup of vegetable-rich bolognaise sauce
  • 1 cup of cooked rice with about ½ cup of stir-fried meat strips and at least 1½ cups of vegetables
  • 1 cup of noodles, 1 or 2 eggs and a combination of Asian stir-fried vegetables
  • 1 roast chicken drumstick without skin served with 1 medium baked potato or similar sized sweet potato chunk plus at least 1 cup of other vegetables such as roast pumpkin, peas, beans, broccoli, and cauliflower
  • A bowl of home-made vegetable soup followed by ½ cup of baked beans, an egg plus 2 slices of toast
  • 4 regular sized taco shells filled with chilli beans, lettuce, tomato slices, grated reduced fat cheese and about ¼ avocado
Kaye Foster-Powell

Why aren’t the GI values of all those vegetables we are urged to eat 5 serves a day of on the GI database?

The GI is a measure of carbohydrate quality and only applies to carb-rich foods. Most vegetables from artichokes to zucchini along with all your favourite greens and salad veggies contain so little carbohydrate they won’t have much effect on blood glucose levels at all, and their GI can’t be measured following the international standardised procedure. Root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips and squash such as butternut pumpkin/winter squash contain a little carbohydrate and have low GI values, so pop them on the plate when serving dinner.

What we say is, brighten your plate (at least half of it) with a variety of colourful vegetables. They are full of fibre and essential nutrients that fill you up without adding extra kilojoules/calories. Try leafy green and salad vegetables; green peas and beans; broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower; zucchini and baby squash; onions and leeks; fennel and asparagus; carrots, parsnips and pumpkin; and don’t forget mushrooms (yes we know that they are really fungi). Opt for flavour and enjoy vegetables fresh in season or frozen year round. If choosing canned convenience, make sure you buy brands with no added salt.

Photo: Ian Hofstetter, from Zest by Catherine Saxelby and Jennene Plummer

Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potato, sweet corn, yams, taro and legumes, belong in the carb-rich foods (not the vegetables) part of the plate. You need to keep portions moderate (a quarter of the plate as the diagram shows) and choose the low GI types. These carb-rich foods are all in the GI database and listed in The New Glucose Revolution Shopper’s Guide to GI Values.

If you are unsure about how to use the GI database, just scroll down to the bottom of GI News and see the step-by-step guide.


Paul Wilkins said...

My first introduction to GI was a book "Eat Yourself Slim" by Michel Montignac in which he claims that cooked carrot has a high GI (85) compared to 30 for raw carrots because the cooking process turns the carbohydrates into starch - do you have any data or opinions on this?

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul, we have covered the perennial carrot question in GI News on a number of occasions, most recently in December 2006. FYI, here's what we said in August 2005:

'One of the most repeated criticisms of the GI approach over the years has been the fact that carrots were being excluded from diets simply because of their high GI value .... When carrots were first tested in 1981, the result was 92, but only five people were included in the study and the variation among them was huge. This was in the early days of GI testing and the reference food was tested only once. When carrots were re-assessed in 2001, ten people were included, the reference food was tested twice, and a mean value of 41 was obtained with narrow variation. It was clear that this result was more accurate and the other value should be ignored. This is a good example of the need for reliable, standardised methodology for GI testing. It is also another case for not using the GI in isolation. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a plant form of vitamin A or retinol, which we need to maintain normal vision (a deficiency in vitamin A produces night blindness—an inability to see in dim light). Carrots also provide some vitamin C and fibre, so add them to soups, salads, stir-fries, stews, casseroles, cakes and puddings or enjoy them as a crunchy snack.'

* Carrots, Australian (average) GI 41
* Carrots (average of four studies worldwide) GI 47

Anonymous said...

I have the book, "Glycem Index Cooking made easy", by Dr, Jennie Brand-Miller and others.
I have lost weight by skipping meals and want to gain (about 5 or more back). I do weight lifting.
I know that 3500 calories equal one pound. May I eat a high calorie dinner but eat more than one serving every day, following the recipes in that book? I will eat three meals a day.
Thanks Jim