Joslin Answers Your Questions

Joslin Diabetes Center experts answer commonly asked questions about diabetes monitoring, treatment, self-care, meal planning, and more.
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Topic: Meal Planning and Diet
Question: I'm kind of confused on diet: Am I only supposed to eat foods that have a low glycemic index? And can I eat more low glycemic-index foods because they won't affect my blood glucose?

Answer: There has been a lot written about the benefit of foods that have a low glycemic index (GI) for people with diabetes, so it's not surprising to have questions about what the GI means and whether you should eat only these foods.

Briefly, the glycemic index is a rating of carbohydrate foods on the basis of how much impact they will have on blood glucose. The higher the glycemic index, the higher the potential impact on blood glucose. For example, a plain bagel, mashed potato, and watermelon all have a high GI. Legumes, brown rice, and some whole-grain breads have a low GI.

In general, the foods with a high GI are more likely to cause a faster and higher rise in blood glucose than foods with a lower GI.

Diabetes experts are not in complete agreement regarding the importance of using glycemic index ratings for making food choices. However, most do agree with the recommendations to choose high-fiber, whole-grain, and minimally processed foods-many of which have a low GI.

You can learn how particular foods and meals affect your blood glucose by checking your glucose levels with your meter two to three hours after you eat.

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