The glycemic index is a rating system used to reflect the impact carbohydrate-containing foods have on your blood sugar, or glucose, levels. Lowering your "glycemic load" may help regulate your blood sugar levels, making it easier to control symptoms of diabetes, and delay hunger cues, which may ease the process of weight management. Because a low-glycemic index diet can pose challenges, according to MayoClinic.com endocrinologist Dr. Maria Collazo-Clavell, seek professional guidance for best results.
Skinless Grilled Chicken
Meats, including poultry, are pure, rich sources of protein. Authors of "The Fast Food Diet: Lose Weight and Feel Great Even If You're Too Busy to Eat Right," Stephen T. Sinatra and Jim Punkre suggest choosing fast food dishes that contain lean, protein-rich foods for improved blood sugar control and satiation following your meal. Because the glycemic index of a meal is based on all components, pairing skinless grilled chicken with a white bun provides a much lower-glycemic alternative to white bread alone. Choose grilled chicken breasts, which are leaner than dark-meat chicken, most often. Additional low-glycemic options include vegetable salads topped with grilled chicken and grilled chicken tortilla wraps. Whenever possible, choose whole grain bread, buns and tortillas, which are lower-glycemic than enriched breads.
Yogurt Parfaits and Smoothies
Yogurt parfaits and creamy fruit smoothies contain rich amounts of calcium, protein and antioxidants, such as vitamin C. Dairy products and fresh fruit, including berries, citrus fruits and apples, are low-glycemic. Choose smoothies made with low-fat milk or yogurt instead of fruit juice, which has a higher glycemic index and may offset your blood sugar levels. Avoid added sweeteners and sugary granola, if possible, or request modest amounts. In addition to promoting blood sugar health, the American Heart Association recommends low-fat yogurt as a heart-healthy alternative to hot fudge sundaes. Fruit smoothies also provide lower-glycemic, nutritious alternatives to high-fat milkshakes and sugary soft drinks.
Beans and Bean Burritos
Bean burritos vary in ingredients and fat content. Because they contain ample legumes, however, they have a low glycemic index. Sinatra and Punkre describe chicken enchiladas as "total diet breakers," due to their high saturated fat and calorie content and recommend selecting bean-based fast food dishes, such as chili, black bean burgers and bean burritos instead. Beans are some of the richest dietary sources of fiber, which promotes fullness, digestive function and blood sugar control. If you wish to reduce the calorie or fat content of bean burritos as well, ask for very little cheese, no sour cream and added fresh vegetables and salsa.
Stir-Fry with Steamed Rice
Dining at Asian fast food restaurants can pose challenges to your blood sugar and your overall diet plan, particularly if you're drawn to fried rice, high-fat egg rolls and sweet and sour pork. Some casual restaurants offer brown rice, which is lower-glycemic than white rice. Stir-fry dishes prepared with mixed vegetables, such as cabbage, water chestnuts, broccoli and pea pods are low-glycemic. Adding a source of lean protein, such as grilled chicken or shrimp, further lowers the glycemic impact of your meal. To avoid bloating, avoid excessive amounts of soy sauce or, when possible, use a low-sodium variety.
- MayoClinic.com: Glycemic Index Diet: A Helpful Tool for Diabetes?
- American Heart Association: Tips for Eating at Family Restaurants
- "The Fast Food Diet: Lose Weight and Feel Great Even If You're Too Busy to Eat Right"; Stephen T. Sinatra, Jim Punkre; 2010