The low-glycemic-index (low-GI) diet makes some
major changes to the current USDA food pyramid. For starters, the
current pyramid has a "bread-cereal-rice-pasta" group at the base,
meaning these foods are recommended to be the main part of peoples' diets.
David Ludwig, MD, PhD, director of Children's Hospital Boston's Optimal
Weight for Life (OWL) program, pushes this group up to the top of
the pyramid and splits it in two: unrefined grains, high-fiber cereal,
and pasta are okay to "Eat in Moderation," but refined grains (like
white bread and pretzels) and starchy vegetables (like potatoes and
corn) are at the tip of the pyramid—to "Eat Sparingly."
vegetables lie squarely at the base of the low-GI pyramid, with instructions
to "Eat Plenty." Next come lean proteins (meat, seafood, soy products),
reduced-fat dairy foods, eggs and beans. These are to be eaten at
every meal, whereas the current pyramid restricts them to two to
three servings a day. Fats and sweets are at the tip of both pyramids,
but the low-GI pyramid allows "healthful" fats like olive oil, avocados
and nuts to be eaten more liberally.
In the OWL clinic, patients
are given a nutrition plan; a month's worth of menu ideas with
recipes for quick, easy meals and healthy snacks; tips for buying
and preparing vegetables; and a shopping list. "It's easy to prepare
a nourishing meal in less than half an hour if one has access to
the right ingredients," says Ludwig. "Tasty, satisfying meals don't
have to be fancy."
Eat three meals a day. Don't skip breakfast. Pack a meal for school or work if possible.
One or two snacks a day is fine, and even recommended, if they're healthy: fruit, cheese, nuts, raw vegetables and dip.
Eat fresh, natural, unprocessed foods. Shop a couple of times a week so you have fresh foods available. Keep other essential ingredients on hand, like olive oil and garlic.
Aim for a dinner plate with at least 50 percent vegetables, excluding starches like potatoes and corn. If fresh vegetables aren't available or are too expensive, substitute frozen.
Avoid lots of refined starchy foods, which cause swings in blood sugar that can lead to overeating. For each meal or snack, aim for no more than the equivalent of one slice of bread (for example, just half a bagel).
Eat protein at every meal and snack. This helps you feel full.
Maintain a balance of protein, fat, and "good" carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, legumes). This helps keep blood sugar at an even level, so hunger and appetite are better controlled.
Cut out soft drinks, and drink fruit juices and "juice drinks" sparingly. Substitute water, plain lowfat milk, flavored seltzer, Crystal Light, or Fruit2O. Instead of juice, which has highly concentrated sugar, eat the whole fruit.
Have a family mealtime, if possibleóand turn off the TV. Television watching can lead to "unconscious eating": you don't realize you ate, and your hunger remains unsatisfied.