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Understanding the Glycemic Index: A Simple Guide to Healthy Eating and Portion Control

Managing blood sugar levels is very important for overall health, especially for those with diabetes. The Glycemic Index (GI) is a valuable tool that helps us choose foods wisely to keep blood sugar stable. Here’s how you can use the Glycemic Index, along with portion control, to make healthier choices.

What is the Glycemic Index (GI)?

The Glycemic Index ranks foods based on how quickly they raise blood sugar levels. Foods with a high GI (70 or more) cause a rapid spike in blood sugar, while those with a low GI (55 or less) cause a slower, more gradual rise.

Using the Glycemic Index to Make Better Choices:

By opting for more foods with a lower GI, you can help manage blood sugar levels more effectively, reducing the risk of complications from diabetes and promoting better weight management.

Portion Control and Diabetes Management

Watching portion sizes can help manage diabetes. We suggest a balanced approach to portioning meals:

  • Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits: Choose more vegetables than fruits, as most vegetables have less sugar. This helps control calorie intake and provides essential nutrients.

  • Divide the other half of your plate: Distribute this portion between protein-rich foods and whole grains. Examples include lean meats, fish, beans, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice.

Combining GI and Portion Control

Understanding the Glycemic Index and practicing portion control can significantly impact your health outcomes, particularly if you have diabetes or are aiming for better overall well-being. By choosing low GI foods and controlling portion sizes, you can better manage blood sugar levels, support weight loss efforts, and improve your overall health.

Remember, consult with a healthcare professional or Registered Dietitian to tailor these principles to your individual needs and health goals. Each small step towards healthier eating habits contributes to a more balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.

Low Glycemic Index (55 or less) Foods. Choose these most often!

Grains and Starches


Heavy Mixed Grain

Breads Spelt Bread

Sourdough Bread

Tortilla (Whole Grain)


All-Bran™ Cereal

Oat Bran

Oats (Steel Cut)




Mung Bean Noodles

Pasta (Al Dente, Firm)

Pulse Flours


Rice (Converted, Parboiled)




Sweet Potato*

Winter Squash*

*Most starchy/sweet vegetables (e.g. peas, parsnip, winter squash) provide 15 g or more carbohydrate per 1 cup serving


Milk and Milk Alternatives

Meat and Alternatives

Moderate Glycemic Index (56 to 69) Foods. Choose LESS often!

Grains and Starches


Chapati (White, Whole Wheat)

Flaxseed/Linseed Bread

Pita Bread (White, Whole Wheat)

Pumpernickel Bread

Roti (White, Whole Wheat)

Rye Bread (Light, Dark, Whole Grain)

Stone Ground Whole Wheat Bread

Whole Grain Wheat Bread


Cream of Wheat™ (Regular)

Oats (Instant)

Oats (Large Flake)

Oats (Quick)


Basmati Rice

Brown Rice


Couscous (Regular, Whole Wheat)

Rice Noodles

White Rice (Short, Long Grain)

Wild Rice




French Fries (An occasional food)


Potato (Red, White, Cooled)

Rye Crisp Crackers


Meat and Alternatives

High Glycemic Index (70 or more) Foods. Choose LEAST often!

Grains and Starches


Bread (White, Whole Wheat)

Naan (White, Whole Wheat)


All-Bran Flakes™

Cereal Corn Flakes™

Cereal Cream of Wheat™ (Instant)

Puffed Wheat Cereal

Rice Krispies™ Cereal

Special K™ Cereal


Jasmine Rice


Sticky Rice

White Rice (Instant)



Potato (Instant Mashed)

Potato (Red, White, Hot)


Rice Cakes

Soda Crackers


Milk and Milk Alternatives


Want to learn more to help manage your blood sugar and feel your best? Schedule an appointment with an Amoskeag Health provider today by calling 603-626-9500.




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