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Is the low-glycemic-index diet right for you?

That big basket of bread on the restaurant table is calling your name. But you’ve made white bread your sworn enemy, now that you’re following a low-glycemic-index (GI) diet.

GI refers to how food affects blood glucose levels. For example, foods with a high GI value, such as white bread and instant potatoes, cause spikes in your levels. Low-GI foods, like some fruits and vegetables, have less of an impact.

So if you’re monitoring your blood sugar levels, following a low-GI diet should, theoretically, be a perfect fit. While it’s true that many low-GI foods can help keep your blood sugar stable, it’s not always that simple. And the more difficult a diet is to follow, the less likely it is to be successful.

For one thing, not all low-GI foods are healthier. How a food is prepared can make a difference (al dente pasta has a lower GI than pasta that’s cooked until it’s soft), as can fat and fiber content (the two together can lower the GI of a food) and what it’s eaten with (for example, bread eaten with butter can lower the bread’s GI). Your age, activity level and how quickly your body digests the food also factor in. And sometimes, nutritious foods, like instant oatmeal, can have a higher GI than those that don’t offer as much nutrition, such as chocolate.

A better option? Try working with a diabetes nutritionist to learn how to count your carbohydrates and figure out which foods will give you the most nutritional bang for your buck.