We have established the perils of sugar addition but what keeps us coming back for more has got a lot do with glycemic index or GI as it is commonly known. GI is a scale that estimates how different types of carbohydrates affect your blood sugar. There are good carbs and bad carbs and the latter is responsible for your sugar rush. The good carbs ensure a steady supply of sugar in your bloodstream, ensuring you don’t get the munchies. You might remove added sugars in your diet but it would be counterintuitive if you consume foods that have a high GI — like jumping from one toxic relationship to another.

Why is it important to know the GI of your food?

People who have trouble metabolising glucose, i.e. diabetics need to know the glycemic index of the foods they consume in order to know what foods to avoid. This will ensure that their blood sugar is regulated and can be a lifesaver for those who are insulin-resistant.

How do you measure GI?

All foods are given a rank out of 100, and the higher the number, higher the damage done to your blood sugar levels. Eating food with a GI of 70 or more is equivalent to taking table sugar shots. It is best to consume food that has a low GI of 55 or less. With that said, GI is an estimated reading as each one of us process sugar differently. Also, only foods that contain carbs have a glycemic index value, so if you won’t find meat and seafood on these lists.

Portion Sizes

Knowing your portion size is as important as knowing the glycemic index value of the food. GI value is calculated by the amount of carbohydrates in the food — watermelon typically has a high GI value but chances are you would be having a wedge of watermelon as opposed to the whole fruit. So, technically you wouldn’t be spiking your blood sugar level with a wedge of watermelon and there is no need to completely isolate it from your diet.

So what should and shouldn’t you eat?

There is a long list of shoulds and shouldn’ts so we’ll highlight some of the most common foods and where they stand on their glycemic index values. These lists can help you get started on monitoring your diet and making the right choices.

Foods with a GI value of 55 or less

  • Bread: Whole grain, multigrain, rye and sourdough varieties
  • Breakfast cereals: Rolled Oats & Museli
  • Fruit: cherries, plum, grapefruit and peaches
  • Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, celery and carrots
  • Legumes: chickpeas, red and green lentils and baked beans

Food with a GI value of 70 or more

  • Bread: white bread and french baguette
  • Breakfast cereals: cornflakes and coco pops
  • Fruit: watermelon and dates
  • Vegetables: pumpkin and parsnips

You can find a more extensive list here.