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Posts Tagged ‘GI Information’

  1. Shopping for Good Carbs


    January 14, 2013 by Johanna Burani

    Old Fashioned OatsLet’s face it, our mothers and grandmothers had an easier time food shopping than we do today.  They mostly cooked from scratch.  Their ingredients were simple: flour, sugar, butter, potatoes, milk, broccoli, spinach, apples, a chicken or pork roast.  They knew if their foods were fresh or not by “reading” their appearances rather than the labels they were wrapped in. They didn’t have to deal with “organic,” “gluten free,” “whole grain,” “low fat,” and so on.  How times have changed!

    Of course, we, too, can choose to cook our meals from scratch and many are doing just that.  But this is not an option for everyone.  So we must become savvy shoppers, knowing how to separate the marketing jargon from the true nutritional facts found on packaged foods.  This applies to concerns about calories, fat, fiber, salt, preservatives and, yes, good carbs.

    What are you looking for when shopping for good carbs?  Here are the most essential properties:

    • short list of ingredients – usually a good sign of minimal processing (e.g. Quaker’s old fashioned oats has one ingredient: 100% rolled oats)Food Label
    • natural ingredients – you should be able to pronounce and spell these! (e.g. Breyer’s vanilla ice cream contains milk, cream, sugar, tara gum, natural flavor)
    • first ingredient is a whole and intact grain (e.g. brown rice, bulgur, lentils)
    • the food resembles its original form (corn on the cob vs. popcorn or corn flakes)

    Here is a partial list of good carbs to get you started:

    • all-bran cereals and large, thick oat flakes requiring 5+ minutes cooking time
    • all rye/pumpernickel-based breads and crackers
    • all pasta: cooked al dente (not overcooked or precooked)brown, long grain and wild rice
    • all whole grains: barley, buckwheat, bulgur, corn
    • all legumes: beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, black-eyed peasall fresh vegetables, except parsnips, white potatoes, pumpkin, rutabaga
    • all fresh fruits, except watermelon, very ripe pineapple, very ripe, large bananas
    • all canned fruit in its own juice, except pineapple and lychees
    • all dairy foods: milk, yogurt, ice cream, cooked puddings, custards and mousses
    • all nuts and chocolate (especially dark)

    Happy shopping!

  2. Diets Don’t Work


    November 21, 2012 by Johanna Burani

    We Americans are getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.  This is when we commemorate the Pilgrims’ gratitude for surviving their first year in the New World.  Many died, weakened by disease and chronic lack of food.  The strong ones planted crops, harvested them and then celebrated their good fortune.  Some records say the Pilgrims and their Indian neighbors eat and drank in abundance (for them) for three solid days!

    We will all be overeating on Thanksgiving too.  But, sadly, overeating is a daily occurrence for many people.  We all know the obesity statistics and the connection to consistent overconsumption of calories is direct and unquestionable.

    A recent survey conducted by Slimsticks, a weight loss firm, found that approximately 28% of young people try a new diet program every month in a desperate attempt to lose at least some of the extra pounds and 45% of them give it up after just one week.  These numbers coincide with the 48.9% of all dieters who also give up their latest diet approach after one month.


    Because diets don’t work.  Here are two reasons why:

    1. the changes being made (no more ice cream – ever, no more pasta, or bread or chocolate or desserts – ever) are not reasonable or sustainable.  These are not behavioral changes, they’re dietary changes:  You go on a diet – you lose weight – and you go off the diet and magically keep the weight off.  It never happens this way, does it?
    2. cutting back on calories leaves you feeling hungry.  It’s hard to cut calories when you are hungry and dreaming about a bagel.

    Enter low glycemic index carbohydrates.  They keep you feeling fuller longer.  No hunger.  No cravings.  And no diet.  Switch your kaiser roll for rye bread, don’t overcook your pasta, opt for sweet potatoes over mashed white potatoes, snack on nuts instead of rice cakes or popcorn.  You’ll feel fuller longer.  You won’t be hungry or have cravings.  And you won’t be on a diet.

    Try it and see for yourself.

  3. The Real Paula Deen Has Stood Up for Diabetes – and I Was There!


    October 31, 2012 by Johanna Burani

    I’ll admit it.  I believed Paula Deen’s critics when they disparaged her for pushing butter and sugar in her recipes and on her cooking shows while she was secretly dealing with her diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.  But then I met Paula and my opinion quickly changed.

    Nell Stuart and I flanking Paula Deen at breakfast reception in Philadelphia.

    We diabetes educators are accustomed to this scenario from our own patients.  We understand the emotions that pour forth when a person feels that life will change forever now with diabetes, and not for the better!  And here was Paula Deen, revealing her own emotional turmoil and how she eventually decided to take control of her diabetes with a candor that just oozed out of her.  As I listened to her I kept thinking what a great service she is providing the diabetic community.  She’s put a face on type 2 diabetes.  A famous face that once represented unhealthy eating but now speaks of moderation and balance on the plate.We guests were served five brunch dishes, all of them Paula’s recipes, all of them diabetes-friendly, and all of them delicious!  The greatest treat of all was sitting just a few feet away from Paula and listening to her explain what it was like for her when she learned she had type 2 diabetes. Her story was all too familiar, a very human story of an unsuspecting person going through phases of denial, fear and anxiety, anger and grief when told, “You have diabetes.”

    Instead of pointing fingers and speaking critically, I stand up and applaud Paula Deen for setting a new positive example for the 26 million Americans already diagnosed with diabetes and the other 79 million who have some form of prediabetes. They, like Paula, face the choice and the challenges of accepting to live with diabetes every day, to control the disease and control their lives.  Paula believes that if she has been able to make some small, consistent lifestyle changes (she calls them “baby steps”) then anybody can.  Can you just hear her saying, “I know you can do it, y’all!”

    Brava, Paula Deen!

  4. An Introduction to Good Carbs


    October 4, 2012 by Johanna Burani

    I have been a registered dietitian for 25 years.  I chose this second career (I was a biology teacher before) because of my unyielding belief that good, wholesome food heals and restores the mind and the body.  I do my best to deliver this message to each of my patients whom I counsel by designing individualized meal plans for their weight loss, blood sugar control, heart health, improved stamina and satiety.

    The bottom line of my instruction rests on a balanced diet with a keen focus on the quality of the carbohydrates chosen.  Why so much attention to carbohydrates?  Because they are the caloric foundation of our meals and the fuel source that propels us throughout the day.  I teach my patients: We feel our best when we fuel with high test.

    High test carbs (good carbs) are slowly digested carbs or “low glycemic.”  So really I teach my patients about the concept of the glycemic index (GI).  I teach them that good carbs are everywhere, how to find them and how to make them work for them.  I haven’t found any other dietary approach that controls blood sugars, blood fats and weight better and more consistently than a well balanced, wholesome, low glycemic diet.  It’s the best I have to offer my patients.  I’ve seen this approach work well for thousands of patients for more than 20 years in my practice!

    I love what I do.  I walk into my office each day and speak excitedly about good health, good nutrition and good carbs with the same enthusiasm as when I started on my first day.  Seeing my patients‘ health improve remains a huge thrill for me.   My passion has also brought me to research and write books and articles about the glycemic index.  And now this same passion is taking me into cyberspace where I can “meet” countless people searching for improved health and energy levels through diet.

    By creating this blog, I plan on explaining how and why low glycemic good carbs:

    • prevent blood sugar highs and lows
    • help regulate blood fats
    • promote weight loss by suppressing hunger and cravings
    • increase energy and physical endurance

    I’ll also provide tips for food shopping and reading food labels for good carb ingredients, how to cook with good carbs, and how to find them when eating out.  Since I love to cook and spend a lot of time doing so in my homes in New Jersey and in Friuli (northeastern Italy), I’ll also share with you some of my original low GI recipes.

    So this is my personal invitation to my virtual office.  Come in anytime.  No appointment needed!

  5. What Is the Glycemic Index?


    September 16, 2012 by Johanna Burani

    You may have heard or read about the glycemic index (GI) before, but do you really know what it is? what it measures? what it means?

    Canadian scientists invented the glycemic index in the early 1980s to measure how quickly carbohydrate-rich foods are digested in the gut.  In other words, the GI measures how long it takes a carb to become glucose and drop into the bloodstream.  The researchers tested real foods on real people – no mice or test tubes, just normal people – and they came up with real numbers.

    Think of any carb: a slice of bread or pizza, an Oreo cookie, a peach.  Each of these foods has certain properties that will always belong to them.  A peach, for example, will always be round, “peachy” in color, juicy and fibrous.  And, because it’s been tested, we know it has a GI value of 28 (low).  Its GI value helps to describe the peach as much as its other characteristics.

    The actual glycemic index starts at zero and goes to 100 and is divided into three sections: LOW (0-55), MODERATE (56-69) and HIGH (70+).  A peach has a low GI value (28) and that means it is slowly released as glucose from the gut into the blood.

    There are labs in Canada, Australia, Europe and other places that follow the same strict World Health Organization-approved protocol for GI testing.  To date their studies have deciphered the GI values of more than 2000 foods.  These values were most recently published in 2008 as The International Tables of GI and GL Values.  GI values also may be found at or

    To summarize:

    • What is the glycemic index?   A numerical chart of carbohydrates.
    • What does it measure?   How quickly carbs are digested in the gut and released as glucose into the blood.
    • What does it mean?  The GI tells us if a carb, once digested, enters the blood quickly or slowly.  This information can have a profound impact on health concerns such as diabetes, heart disease and weight management.

  6. The Glycemic Index Tells Us What the Body Already Knows


    September 10, 2012 by Johanna Burani

    Today NPR highlighted a recent study conducted by David Ludwig, MD of Children’s Hospital in Boston that illustrated the appetite-suppressing benefits of a well balanced low glycemic index (GI) diet.  As one of the study’s participants explained, high GI carbs just did not sustain him and he was hungry soon after polishing off a large bowl of mashed potatoes.  This is because high GI carbs (like mashed potatoes) are quickly digested in the gut.  This causes first a surge of sugar to be released into the blood followed by a rapid drop in sugar levels from all the insulin the pancreas released in response to the mashed potatoes.  This roller coaster results in hunger, low energy and causes the body to more readily store calories as fat.

    Not all nutrition professionals look kindly on the concept of the glycemic index.  As the dietitian who was interviewed for this segment mentioned, there are many variables that may impact on a food’s GI value: the ripeness of a fruit, the under- or overcooking of starches like pasta or rice, the presence or absence of other nutrients in the gut along with the carb (fat, protein, soluble fiber).  Thanks to decades of valid GI testing by researchers in many parts of the world, we know these facts to be true.  However, this is indeed how we eat.  Our pasta at dinner tonight was cooked.  The length of time it stayed in the water, the fat-protein-fiber content of the other foods on that same dish are factors that influenced the rate at which our gut is turning that pasta into glucose and releasing it into our blood supply.  The glycemic index is telling us what the body already knows!

Gushers vs Tricklers

"Gushers" are quickly-digested carbohydrates that cause a rapid rise in blood glucose and fuel appetite.

"Tricklers" are slowly-digested carbohydrates that are gradually released into the bloodstream and sustain satiety. These are the good carbs.

Johanna Burani
Nutrition Works LLC
Morristown, NJ, USA

Expert in individualized, low-glycemic index (low GI) meal planning.

This book tells the complete story


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