Ask Shelly - Avoiding Sugar Crashes
Eating high-sugar foods at the wrong time during the day can lead to your energy acting like a roller coaster ride.
A friend of mine lost 25 pounds on a diet called the “GI Diet,” and says she has never felt better. Do you know what this is and where I can find more information on it?
A.J. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Many people don’t realize the rollercoaster ride they put their bodies through while eating high GI foods at the wrong times. A typical day would go something like this: you wake up in the morning at 6:00 a.m., hit the snooze button for an extra 15 minutes of sleep (because you were up watching television until 12:00 a.m. the night before),then after 15 minutes of dozing you realize it has actually been a half an hour. You jump out of bed like there was a snake under the sheets, rush to start the coffee, make the children’s lunches, and clean up the kitchen. Before you know it, it’s time to shower and dress for work. You’re now so off schedule you decide a coffee and a bagel will hold your stomach off from hunger pains until lunch.
Now it’s 12:00 p.m., you’re starving, and paperwork is stacked up on your desk. No time to eat, but thankfully someone in the office has brought in some Tim Horton donuts. Great. More caffeine plus a little sugar will give you a quick pick-me-up, and you now feel confident that your paperwork will get done and that you won’t have to worry about dinner for hours. An hour goes by, you’re starving again and your brain just isn’t cooperating! Hmm, across the street at the mall there’s a juice bar in the food court. Off you go to take a break, clear your head and have something healthy. A fruit smoothie and a granola bar should do the trick. Back to work, a few phone calls, a diet coke, and home it is. Once again, you feel like you could eat anything put in front of you. Thank goodness pasta is quick and easy to make, so pasta it is. You’re sure you’ll be full then.
I think now you’re getting the picture. The rollercoaster ride of energy highs and lows seems to go on day in and day out. For someone who wants to lose weight and feel physically and emotionally stronger, this is NOT the ideal nutrition plan. If this scenario is something you can relate to and you want to change, the key is to consume mostly low glycemic, low calorie, and high fiber foods that enable the body to keep insulin levels down.
What is “GI”? It’s short for “glycemic index,” which refers to the rate that your body breaks down carbohydrates and changes them into glucose, a substance used for energy. Dr. David Jenkins from the University of Toronto invented the glycemic index chart, which scores foods based on a 100 point scale (sugar/glucose being 100; a high glycemic index rating). For example, an apple has a rating of 38, where instant rice has a rating 87. This means the apple takes longer to be converted into glucose than the rice.
Simply put, the lower the GI score, the slower the food is broken down and converted to glucose. If we eat low GI foods (rated less than 50) we create constant and stable blood sugar levels in the body. If we eat high GI foods (more than 70), the body and mind feel drained of energy and starvation sets in. In our example, the apple is a better choice for providing stable energy and blood sugar levels. I’m not saying every high GI food is bad for you or that every low GI food is good for you, but the index serves as a useful guide. Be mindful of nutrient values as well as the timing of your meals.
For more information I suggest reading “The G.I. Diet – The Easy And Healthy Way To Permanent Weight Loss,” a book written by Rick Gallop, past president of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. Mr. Gallop was 20 pounds overweight despite the fact that he exercised on a regular basis. He soon realized exercise alone wouldn’t shed the extra pounds and went on a mission to find a real weight loss program that worked. After years of research and consultation with Dr. Jenkins, Gallop wrote his book, a work that has changed many people’s views on healthful eating. His simple and easy to follow program has helped many of my own clients succeed in their quest for weight loss.
So A.J, this may not be the end all, be all of diets, but Gallop certainly has done his homework. If looking healthy (and more importantly feeling healthy) is a goal for you, I strongly suggest learning more about the GI diet.
Glycemic Index Chart-Various Foods