We are going to talk first about an ealthy Diet that applies for all people without particular conditions. Then and afterwards we will examin the nutrition for people with conditions (Diabetics).


A healthy varied diet

Apart from breast feeding, no single food contains all the essential nutrients for the body needs to be healthy and function efficiently. The nutritional value of a person's diet depends on the overall balance of foods that is eaten over a period of time, as well as on the needs of the individual. A healthy diet is likely to include a large number or variety of foods, from each of the food groups, as this allows us to get all the nutrients that we need.

We need energy to live and this is provided by the carbohydrate, protein and fat in our diets. But the balance between these nutrients must be right for us to remain healthy. Getting the right amounts of vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and water is also important for health.

So what becomes as important as the type of foods we eat, is the amount and frequency that we include different foods in our diet. All foods can be part of a healthy diet, so you don’t have to give up the foods that are a real treat, as the key message is that it is the overall balance of foods that is important for health.

The food groups

We can think of all foods as belonging to one of five different food groups:

Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods
Fruit and vegetables
Milk and dairy foods
Meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
Foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar

.Low Glycemic Index

Let’s first think about the proportions of these food groups in our diet.

Our diets should be based on bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods and rich in fruit and vegetables. A variety of foods from these two groups should make up two-thirds of the food we eat. Most of the remaining third of the diet should be made up of milk and dairy foods, meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein, with limited amounts of foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar.

  • Starchy foods + fruit and vegetables = 2/3 of the food we eat.
  • All the rest = 1/3 of the food we eat.
  • Low Carb food : Be aware of your GI index

It might be helpful for you to think of your diet as a big plate, with sections representing the different food groups. This is the healthy eating model that we use in the UK to describe a healthy varied diet and it is called the eatwell plate (above) ; You should aim to achieve this balance every day, although it is not necessary to achieve it at every meal.

This guide is appropriate for most people over the age of two years, including: vegetarians; people of all ethnic origins; people who are a healthy weight for their height as well as those who are overweight; and pregnant women. People under medical supervision or with special dietary requirements may want to check with their doctor if this general description of healthy eating applies to them.

Children under the age of two years have high energy needs compared to their size and capacity for food so some of the foods (especially those low in fat or high in fibre) included on the eatwell plate are not suitable for them. But between the ages of two and five years, children can make a gradual transition towards the type of diet depicted in the eatwell plate.

For most healthy people, eating a healthy varied diet will provide all the vitamins and minerals the body needs. There are certain times in our lives when we may benefit from taking supplements, e.g. when you are thinking about having a baby or when you get older and you need to take a vitamin D supplement. But you should remember that supplements cannot replace a healthy diet. Obviously, certified organic foods would be a better choice for you compare to processed ones. The Eatwell plate was designed to start with for people with no conditions or allergies ( gluten , diabete, milk etc ).





Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods

This food group, sometimes referred to as ‘starchy carbohydrates’, includes:

•breakfast cereals
•maize, millet and cornmeal
•potatoes (including low fat oven chips), yams, plantains and sweet potato – these foods fall into this group, rather than fruit and vegetables, because they contain starchy carbohydrates.
How much should you eat?

Most of us should EAT MORE!

Base a third of your food intake on foods from this group, aiming to include at least one food from this group at each meal (e.g. potatoes with fish and vegetables; a chicken salad sandwich; stir-fried vegetables with rice; porridge oats or wholegrain cereal for breakfast).

Why eat these foods?

These foods provide:

•Carbohydrate: a source of energy
•Fibre: keeps the gut healthy and helps prevent constipation
•Some calcium: required for the development and maintenance of healthy bones
•Some iron: needed for healthy red blood cells
•B vitamins: e.g. thiamin and niacin – which help the body use energy efficiently
•Folate: needed for red blood cells

Healthy eating tips

Most people don’t eat enough starchy foods or fibre. Here are some helpful tips to boost your intake:

•Base your meals around foods from this group.
•Try to eat more wholegrain or wholemeal breads, bagels, pastas, chapattis, tortillas and breakfast cereals.
•Choose low fat oven chips rather than fried chips (oven chips fall into this food group but fried chips don’t).
•Bake potatoes and chips rather than frying
•Avoid adding too much (if any) fat to these foods. Use lower fat spreads on bread and lower fat milk with cereals.
•Serve naan bread and plenty of rice with curries.
•Try porridge for a healthy and filling breakfast. Oats are a good source of fibre.



Fruit and vegetables

What counts?

Fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables all count. Also, 100% fruit or vegetable juice, pure fruit juice smoothies and pulses count. Remember that potatoes don't count because they're a starchy food.

How much should you eat?

Most of us should EAT MORE!

Fruit and vegetables should make up about a third of the food you eat each day. Choose a wide variety and aim to eat at least 5 different portions a day.

What is a portion?

1 portion is 80g or any of the following:


•One apple, orange pear or banana or a similar sized fruit
•Half a large grapefruit
•A slice of melon
•2 satsumas
•2 plums
•1 handful of grapes, cherries or berries
•1 heaped tablespoon of dried fruit (such as raisins and apricots)


•Three heaped tablespoons of vegetables (raw, cooked, frozen or tinned)
•1 dessert bowl of mixed salad

Fruit or vegetable juices and smoothies

•A glass (150ml) of 100% fruit or vegetable juice counts as 1 portion no matter how much you drink (this is because the juicing process removes most of the fibre from the fruit)
•A 150ml smoothie counts as 1 portion but some smoothies on the market may contain 2 portions if they contain at least 150ml of fruit juice AND at least 80g of crushed fruit (or vegetable) pulp.
Look out for the Government’s 5ADAY logo on pre-packed fruit and vegetables; some food manufacturers have their own logos.

Why eat these foods?

These foods provide:

•Vitamin C: needed for healthy skin and body tissues, also to aid the absorption of iron
•Carotenes: required for growth and development
•Folate: needed for red blood cells
•Fibre: keeps the gut healthy and helps prevent constipation
•Carbohydrate: a source of energy
There is increasing evidence that people who eat lots of fruit and vegetables have a lower risk of some diseases such as heart disease and some cancers.

Try to eat one or two portions with each meal and have the occasional fruit or vegetable snack and it will be easy to eat at least 5 A DAY.

•Choose fruit or chopped vegetables as a snack
•Add dried or fresh fruit to breakfast cereals
•Drink a glass of pure fruit juice with your breakfast
•Have a salad with sandwiches, pasta or with pizza
•Add vegetables or dried fruit to casseroles and stews, and fruit to desserts
•Remember that it’s important to eat a variety of different foods so try not to eat the same fruits and vegetables every day.


Milk and dairy foods

What counts?

This food group includes milk, cheese, yogurt and fromage frais. Calcium fortified soya alternatives to milk can also be included. This group does not include butter, eggs and cream as these fall into other food groups.

How much should you eat?


You can get all the calcium your body needs from around 3 servings a day.
A serving can be:

•A 200ml glass
•A small (150g) pot of yogurt
•A matchbox size (30g) serving of cheese
Why eat these foods?

These foods provide a range of nutrients, including:

•Calcium: needed for development and maintenance of healthy bones
•Zinc: required for tissue growth and repair
•Protein: needed for growth and repair, and also a source of energy
•Vitamin B12: required for blood cells and nerve function
•Vitamin B2: needed for the release of energy from carbohydrates and protein
•Vitamin A: (in whole milk products) for growth, development and eyesight

Healthy eating tips

The fat content of different dairy products varies a lot and much of this is saturated fat (referred to as saturates on food label), which can raise cholesterol and is linked to heart disease.


Meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein

What counts?

This food group includes meat, poultry, fish, eggs and other non-dairy sources of protein.

•Meat products include bacon, salami, sausages, beef burgers and paté.
•Fish includes frozen, fresh, smoked and canned fish as well as fish products such as fish fingers and fish cakes.
•Non-dairy sources of protein include nuts, tofu, mycoprotein, textured vegetable protein (TVP), beans such as red kidney beans and canned beans and pulses such as lentils and split peas.
How much should you eat?


•Some types of meat products are high in fat especially saturated fat, which is linked to heart disease. So, eat moderate amounts and choose lower fat versions whenever you can.

Why eat these foods?

These foods provide:

•Protein: needed for growth and repair, also a source of energy
•Iron: especially red meat, needed for healthy red blood cells
•B Vitamins: especially vitamin B12 (this is found naturally only in animal sources and is required for blood cells and nerve function)
•Vitamin D: in meat, required for healthy bones
•Zinc: (e.g. found in meat, shellfish, nuts, pulses and eggs) required for tissue growth and repair
•Magnesium: (e.g. in nuts, fish and meat) helps the body use energy. Needed for healthy tissues and bones
•Omega-3 fatty acids: in oily fish, may help protect against heart disease
NB: The non-dairy sources of protein listed above provide protein, fibre and iron but are not a rich source of zinc and generally provide no vitamin B12 (unless fortified)



Foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar.

What counts?

The following foods are high in fat:

•Margarine, butter and other spreading fats and reduced fat spreads
•Cooking oils and oil-based salad dressings
•Fried foods including fried chips
•Most chocolate, some crisps and biscuits
•Pastries, cake, puddings and ice-cream
•Rich sauces and gravies

The following foods are high in sugar:

•Soft drinks (not diet drinks)
•Sugar, honey
•Cakes, puddings, biscuits, pastries and ice-cream.


Foods in this group should be used sparingly if they are eaten every day (such as butter and spreads) or not eaten too often (such as sweets and some crisps). It is essential to have a small amount of fat in the diet, but remember that foods containing a lot of fat can be high in calories. Foods containing high amounts of saturated fat, such as some foods of animal origin, cakes, biscuits and pastries, should only be eaten in small amounts.

There are two types of essential fats, which must be supplied by the diet in small amounts: omega-3 fatty acids (found in oily fish but also present in smaller amounts in food such as walnuts, omega-3 enriched eggs, and rapeseed and soya oil) and omega-6 fatty acids (found in vegetable oils such as sunflower, corn and soya oil and spreads made from these). Sugar adds flavour and sweetness to foods, but frequent consumption of sugar-containing foods and drinks is associated with an increased tendency towards tooth decay especially in those with poor dental hygiene.








































Low Glycemic Index.

A Low Glycemic Pyramid

  1. Foods at the top of the pyramid should be the smallest portion of your daily diet; foods at the bottom, the largest portion. Note that the vegetables and fruits that you choose should be those found on the lower half of the glycemic index.
  2. Cereals, rice, pasta, bread, and other foods made from grains should always be from whole grain flour, not refined flour. Low carb substitutes are generally acceptable.
    Acceptable dairy consists of cheese, unsweetened or sugar-free yogurt, sour cream, as well as whole milk and cream.
  3. Legumes are foods that have small seeds in a pod, such as peanuts, beans, peas, nuts and soy.
    Low glycemic desserts, such as those sweetened with artificial and alternative sweeteners, are not included on our pyramid, since they should only be eaten occasionally, as a treat, not as an everyday source of nutrients.
  4. High glycemic foods are not included, since they should be avoided.

What is the Glycemic Index?

Not all carbohydrate foods are created equal, in fact they behave quite differently in our bodies. The glycemic index or GI describes this difference by ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels. Choosing low GI carbs - the ones that produce only small fluctuations in our blood glucose and insulin levels - is the secret to long-term health reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes and is the key to sustainable weight loss.

What is the difference between glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL)?
Your blood glucose rises and falls when you eat a meal containing carbs. How high it rises and how long it remains high depends on the quality of the carbs (the GI) and the quantity. Glycemic load or GL combines both the quality and quantity of carbohydrate in one ‘number’. It’s the best way to predict blood glucose values of different types and amounts of food. The formula is:

GL = (GI x the amount of carbohydrate) divided by 100.

Let’s take a single apple as an example. It has a GI of 40 and it contains 15 grams of carbohydrate.
GL = 40 x 15/100 = 6 g

What about a small baked potato? Its GI is 80 and it contains 15 g of carbohydrate.
GL = 80 x 15/100 = 12 g

So we can predict that our potato will have twice the metabolic effect of an apple. You can think of GL as the amount of carbohydrate in a food ‘adjusted’ for its glycemic potency.

Should I use GI or GL and does it really matter?
Although the GL concept has been useful in scientific research, it’s the GI that’s proven most helpful to people with diabetes. That’s because a diet with a low GL, unfortunately, can be a ‘mixed bag’, full of healthy low GI carbs in some cases, but low in carbs and full of the wrong sorts of fats such as meat and butter in others. If you choose healthy low GI foods—at least one at each meal—chances are you’ve eating a diet that not only keeps blood glucose ‘on an even keel’, but contains balanced amounts of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
We suggest that you think of the GI as a tool allowing you to choose one food over another in the same food group—the best bread to choose, the best cereal etc.—and don’t get bogged down with figures. A low GI diet is about eating a wide variety of healthy foods that fuel our bodies best—on the whole these are the less processed and wholesome foods that will provide you with carbs in a slow release form. So what’s the take-home message?

Choose slow carbs, not low carbs
- Use the GI to identify your best carbohydrate choices.
- Take care with portion size with carb-rich foods such as rice or pasta or noodles to limit the overall GL of your diet.

Do I need to eat only low GI foods at every meal to see a benefit?
No you don't, because the effect of a low GI food carries over to the next meal, reducing its glycemic impact. This applies to breakfast eaten after a low GI dinner the previous evening or to a lunch eaten after a low GI breakfast. This unexpected beneficial effect is called the "second meal effect". But don't take this too far, however. We recommend that you aim for at least one low GI food per meal.

While you will benefit from eating low GI carbs at each meal, this doesn't have to be at the exclusion of all others. So enjoy baking your own bread or occasional treats. And if you combine high GI bakery products with protein foods and low GI carbs such as fruit or legumes, the overall GI value will be medium.

Why do many high-fibre foods still have a high GI value?
Dietary fibre is not one chemical constituent like fat and protein. It is composed of many different sorts of molecules and can be divided into soluble and insoluble types. Soluble fibre is often viscous (thick and jelly-like) in solution and remains viscous even in the small intestine. For this reason it makes it harder for enzymes to move around and digest the food. Foods with more soluble fibre, like apples, oats, and legumes, therefore have low GI values.

Insoluble fibre, on the other hand, is not viscous and doesn’t slow digestion unless it’s acting like a fence to inhibit access by enzymes (eg. the bran around intact kernels). When insoluble fibre is finely milled, the enzymes have free reign, allowing rapid digestion. Wholemeal bread and white bread have similar GI values. Brown pasta and brown rice have similar values to their white counterparts.

Does the GI increase with serving size? If I eat twice as much, does the GI double?
The GI always remains the same, even if you double the amount of carbohydrate in your meal. This is because the GI is a relative ranking of foods containing the "same amount" of carbohydrate. But if you double the amount of food you eat, you should expect to see a higher blood glucose response - ie, your glucose levels will reach a higher peak and take longer to return to baseline compared with a normal serve.

If testing continued long enough, wouldn't you expect the areas under the curve to become equal, even for very high and very low GI foods?
Many people make the assumption that since the amount of carbohydrate in the foods is the same, then the areas under the curve will finally be the same. This is not the case because the body is not only absorbing glucose from the gut into the bloodstream, it is also extracting glucose from the blood. Just as a gentle rain can be utilised better by the garden than a sudden deluge, the body can metabolise slowly digested food better than quickly digested carbohydrate. Fast-release carbohydrate causes "flooding" of the system and the body cannot extract the glucose from the blood fast enough. Just as water levels rise quickly after torrential rain, so do glucose levels in the blood. But the same amount of rain falling over a long period can be absorbed into the ground and water levels do not rise.

Why doesn't the GI of beef, chicken, fish, tofu, eggs, nuts, seeds, avocadoes, many fruits (including berries) and vegetables, wine, beer and spirits appear on the GI database?
These foods contain no carbohydrate, or so little that their GI cannot be tested according to the standard methodology. Bear in mind that the GI is a measure of carbohydrate quality. Essentially, these types of foods, eaten alone, won't have much effect on your blood glucose levels.

Some vegetables like pumpkin and parsnips appear to have a high GI. Does this mean a person with diabetes should avoid eating them?
Definitely not, because, unlike potatoes and cereal products, these vegetables do not contain a lot of carbohydrate. So, despite their high GI, their glycemic load (GI x carb per serve divided by 100) is medium. These vegetables contain loads of micronutrients and can be consumed as part of a healthy balanced meal.

Can you tell me the GI of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine and spirits)?
Alcoholic beverages contain very little carbohydrate. In fact, most wines and spirits contain virtually none, although beer contains some (3 or 4 grams per 100 mL). A middy of beer (10 ounces) contains about 10 grams of carbohydrate compared with 36 grams in the same volume of soft drink. For this reason, a beer will raise glucose levels slightly. If you drink beer in large volumes (not a great idea) then you could expect it to have a more significant effect on blood glucose. As for enjoying an occasional drink, researchers from the University of Sydney found that a pre-dinner drink tends to produce a 'priming' effect, flicking the switch from internal to external sources of fuel and keeping blood-sugar levels low.

Why does some variability occur in the GI for the same food types?
The GI database confirms the reproducibility of GI results around the world. White and wholemeal bread, apples, breakfast cereals etc give the same results wherever/whoever tests them. Where there is variability, there are four possible explanations:

  • 1.Some GI testing groups are not as experienced/accurate as ours. They use venous blood which gives more variability than capillary blood. If we test a product over and over again, we get the same result +/- 5%. That's as good as nutrient data such as protein, fat, fibre etc.
  • 2.The variability among different types of potatoes, rices, and oats is REAL. They contain different types of starch (amylose, amylopectin) and that affects the degree of starch gelatinisation. When it comes to sugars like fructose, the concentration of the solution makes a difference to the rate of gastric emptying and therefore the glycemic response. A more dilute solution, say 25 g fructose in 500 mL water will have a higher GI than 25 g fructose in 250 mL. But fructose has a very low GI whichever way you consume it.
  • 3.Sometimes the manufacturer may change the formulation of their product by reducing the fat content for example. Reducing the fat can increase the GI. Manufacturers may have their products retested if they make significant changes to the formulation, or source ingredients from different suppliers.
  • 4.Some foods have been tested in people with type 2 diabetes. These values may be higher than that seen in the normal population. Follow the food links in the GI database to find more information on the testing conditions.

Why does pasta have a low GI?
Pasta has a low GI because of the physical entrapment of ungelatinised starch granules in a sponge-like network of protein (gluten) molecules in the pasta dough. Pasta is unique in this regard. As a result, pastas of any shape and size have a fairly low GI (30 to 60). Asian noodles such as hokkein, udon and rice vermicelli also have low to intermediate GI values.

Pasta should be cooked al dente ('firm to the bite'). And this is the best way to eat pasta - it's not meant to be soft. It should be slightly firm and offer some resistance when you are chewing it. Overcooking boosts the GI. Although most manufacturers specify a cooking time on the packet, don't take their word for it. Start testing about 2-3 minutes before the indicated cooking time is up. But watch that glucose load. While al dente pasta is a low GI choice, eating too much will have a marked effect on your blood glucose. A cup of al dente pasta combined with plenty of mixed vegetables and herbs can turn into three cups of a pasta-based meal and fits easily into any adult's daily diet.

Most breads and potatoes have a high GI. Does this mean I should never eat them?
Potatoes and bread, despite their high GI, can play a major role in a high carb/low fat diet, even if your goal is to reduce the overall GI. Only about half the carbohydrate needs to be exchanged from high to low GI to derive health benefits. Of course, some types of bread and potatoes have a lower GI and these should be preferred in order to lower the GI as much as possible.

The good news for potato lovers is that a potato salad made the day before, tossed with a vinaigrette dressing and kept in the fridge will have a much lower GI than potatoes served steaming hot from the pot. There are a couple of simple reasons for this. The cold storage increases the potatoes' resistant starch content by more than a third and the acid in the vinaigrette whether you make it with lemon juice, lime juice or vinegar will slow stomach emptying.

What about flour? If I make my own bread (or dumplings, pancakes, muffins etc) which flours, if any, are low GI? What about sprouted grain breads?
To date there are no GI ratings for refined flour whether it's made from wheat, soy or other grains. This is because The GI rating of a food must be tested physiologically that is in real people. So far we haven't had volunteers willing to tuck into 50 gram portions of flour on three occasions! What we do know, however, is that bakery products such as scones, cakes, biscuits, donuts and pastries made from highly refined flour whether it's white or wholemeal are quickly digested and absorbed.

What should you do with your own baking? Try to increase the soluble fibre content by partially substituting flour with oat bran, rice bran or rolled oats and increase the bulkiness of the product with dried fruit, nuts, muesli, All-Bran or unprocessed bran. Don't think of it as a challenge. It's an opportunity for some creative cooking.

Bread made from sprouted grains might well have a lower blood-glucose raising ability than bread made from normal flour. When grains begin to sprout, carbohydrates stored in the grain are used as the fuel source for the new shoot. Chances are that the more readily available carbs stored in the wheat grain will be used up first, thereby reducing the amount of carbs in the final product. Furthermore, if the whole kernel form of the wheat grain is retained in the finished product, it will have the desired effect of lowering the blood glucose level.

Some high fat foods have a low GI. Doesn't this give a falsely favourable impression of that food?
Yes it does, especially if the fat is saturated fat. The GI value of potato chips or french fries is lower than baked potatoes. Large amounts of fat in foods tends to slow the rate of stomach emptying and therefore the rate at which foods are digested. Yet the saturated fat in these foods will contribute to a much increased risk of heart disease. It is important to look at the type of fat in foods rather than avoid it completely. Good fats are found in foods such as avocadoes, nuts and legumes while saturated fats are found in dairy products, cakes and biscuits. We'd all be better off if we left the cakes and biscuits for special occasions.

Why not just adopt a low carbohydrate diet (like the Atkins diet) to keep my blood glucose levels and weight down?
Recent studies show that low carb diets such as the Atkins diet produce faster rates of weight loss than conventional low fat diets. The probable mechanism is lower day-long insulin levels - allowing greater use of fat as the source of fuel - the same mechanism underlying the success of low GI diets. We believe that low carb diets are unnecessarily restrictive (bread, potato, rice, grains and most fruits are restricted) and may spell trouble in the long term if saturated fat takes the place of carbohydrate. Low GI diets strike a happy medium between low fat and low carb diets - you can have your carbs, but must choose them carefully.

Is there a GI plan for nursing mothers?
A low GI diet is ideal while you are breastfeeding. Breastfeeding requires a lot of energy and theoretically this additional energy comes from the body fat laid down during pregnancy. Of course in reality it doesn't all get used up and most have to make a concerted effort to work off the baby weight. To do this though it is important that you don't go on a low calorie diet or any sort of extreme measure such as the low carb diets popular in the press. Since breastfeeding tends to increase your appetite (the body's way of ensuring you have the energy required to produce milk) this is good news as staying on such a diet would be a nightmare! This is what makes the low GI approach so successful - forget about trying to count calories or even your portions of food.

First and foremost focus on the sorts of foods you are eating. Low GI foods are the wholegrains, fresh fruit and vegetables and legumes. By eating these foods as the mainstay of your meals you can trust your appetite and eat to satisfaction while you are breastfeeding. Also get back to some exercise - even if it's just a daily walk with the pram/carriage. You should then find that the weight slowly starts to shift - realistically give yourself at least that first six months to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight.

How relevant is the GI for athletes?
The GI can be a useful tool to help athletes select the right type of carbohydrates to consume both before and after exercise. Studies have consistently reported that a low GI pre-exercise meal results in a better maintenance of blood glucose concentrations during exercise and a higher rate of fat oxidation. This is likely to result in reduced muscle glycogen utilisation during prolonged exercise and possibly improve endurance performance. Eating high GI meals before exercise may result in plasma glucose concentrations peaking before the onset of exercise and then hypoglycemia occurring within the first 30 minutes of the exercise period. There is little data available on the effect of the GI of carbohydrates eaten before intermittent, power or strength related sports.

During recovery from exercise, muscle glycogen resynthesis is of high metabolic priority. The eating of high GI carbohydrates after exercise increases plasma glucose and insulin concentrations and this facilitates muscle glycogen resynthesis. If however, you are exercising for weight loss purposes or are involved in weight restricted sports, low GI carbohydrates after exercise may be more beneficial as the lower glucose and insulin concentrations will not suppress fat.

I have recently been diagnosed with celiac disease (gluten sensitivity). It's extremely hard to find both low GI and wheat-free foods. Any suggestions?
This is not as hard as you may think! There are low GI gluten-free foods in four of the five food groups.

Fruit and Vegetables

  • Temperate climate fruits - apples, pears, citrus (oranges, grapefruit) and stone fruits (peaches, plums, apricots) - all have low GI values.
  • Tropical fruits - pineapple, paw paw, papaya, rockmelon and watermelon tend to have higher GI values, but their glycemic load (GL) is low because they are low in carbohydrate.
  • Leafy green and salad vegetables have so little carbohydrate that we can't test their GI. Even in generous serving sizes they will have no effect on your blood glucose levels.
  • Higher carb starchy vegetables include sweet corn (which is actually a cereal grain), potato, sweet potato, taro and yam, so watch the portion sizes with these. Most potatoes tested to date have a high GI, so if you are a big potato eater, try to replace some with lower GI starchy alternatives such as sweet corn, yam or legumes. Pumpkin, carrots, peas, parsnips and beetroot contain some carbohydrate, but a normal serving size contains so little that it won't raise your blood glucose levels significantly.

Bread and Cereals

  • Opt for breads made from chickpea or legume based flours. For example chapattis made with besan (chickpea flour) have a low GI.
  • If you make your own bread, try adding buckwheat kernels, rice bran and psyllium husks to lower the GI. Most gluten-free breads seem to be better toasted than used to make sandwiches.
  • Breakfast cereals containing pysllium husks are likely to have a lower GI - you could also add a teaspoon or two of pysllium to you usual cereal. To date there are just a few gluten-free breakfast cereals on our database that have a low GI. If you do have a higher GI gluten-free cereal, combine it with lots of fruit and low fat yoghurt or low fat milk, to lower the GI.
  • Noodles are a great stand-by for quick meals, a good source of carbohydrate, provide some protein, B vitamins and minerals and will help to keep blood glucose levels on an even keel. There are several low GI gluten-free options available fresh and dried: buckwheat (soba) noodles; cellophane noodles, also known as Lungkow bean thread noodles or green bean vermicelli, are made from mung bean flour; rice noodles made from ground or pounded rice flour, are available fresh and dried.
  • Gluten-free pastas based on rice and corn (maize) tend to have moderate to high GI values so opt for pastas made from legumes or soy. As for wholegrains, try buckwheat, quinoa, low GI varieties of rice such as basmati and sweet corn. Currently there are no published values for amaranth, sorghum, and tef. Millet has a high GI.
  • Minimise refined flour products and starches irrespective of their fat and sugar content such as crispy puffed breakfast cereals, crackers, biscuits, rolls, most breads and cakes or snack foods. Limit high GI snacks such as corn and potato chips, rice cakes, corn thins and rice crackers.
  • Legumes (pulses) including beans, chickpeas and lentils
    When you add legumes to meals and snacks, you reduce the overall GI of your diet because your body digests them slowly. So make the most of beans, chickpeas, lentils, and whole and split dried peas.
  • Read also our page on Diabete and Wholegrains


Although nuts are high in fat (averaging around 50 per cent), it is largely unsaturated, so they make a healthy substitute for foods such as biscuits, cakes, pastries, potato chips and chocolate. They also contain relatively little carbohydrate, so most do not have a GI value. Peanuts (actually a legume) and cashews have very low GI values.

Low fat dairy foods and calcium-enriched soy products

Low fat milk, yoghurt and ice-cream or soy alternatives provide sustained energy, boosting your calcium intake but not your saturated fat intake. Check the labels of yoghurts, icecream and soymilks as many contain wheat-based thickeners. If lactose intolerance is a problem, reach for live cultured yoghurts and lactose-hydrolysed milks. Even ice-cream can be enjoyed if you ingest a few drops of lactase enzyme first.

Is a low GI diet suitable for vegetarians?
The low GI diet is just as easy for a vegetarian to follow - in fact, teaching vegetarians to follow the low GI diet can be easier because most are eating many of the best low GI foods already. For the vegetarian, the same principles apply: substitute your plant protein sources for the meat. Eat more beans, lentils and other legumes - all among the lowest GI foods we have tested. Quorn is also a great meat substitute with no GI as it has almost no carbohydrate (2 g/100 g).

Some additional points:

  • The GI only applies to foods containing significant amounts of carbohydrate. Most vegetables have small amounts of carbohydrate and those that provide more usually have a low GI, with the exception of potatoes. You can therefore tuck into your veggies without considering the GI for every one - and benefit from antioxidants and all the micronutrients they supply!
  • Legumes should be a daily part of any vegetarian diet for your protein - happily these are also a mainstay of a low GI diet.
  • Almost every low GI food we talk about in the book is suitable as part of a vegetarian diet. Animal products are usually high in fat, protein or both and therefore do not have a GI.
  • The range of protein and carb intake that is healthy is fairly broad - as a vegetarian you will inevitable have a higher carb intake and slightly lower protein intake. This makes the GI important for you but easy to adapt if you choose wholegrain cereal products and legumes as your carbohydrate base.
  • Coffee has no carbohydrate (unless you add sugar and/or milk and the GI response comes from these foods) and hence it is not in the GI tables. Neither does it contain calories so has little impact on weight control.