Glycemic index food labeling?

I just discovered that in Australia they have a fantastic system where food is labelled according to its glycemic index!

Check out this web link of the "Glycemic index foundation"

it would make life so much easier for us diabetics if they did this labeling in all countries.

How can we make this happen ?

I think this is great, the more information on food labels the better!

I'm not sure what impact glycemic index has on blood sugar. I've read about it, but I'm not sure it's as useful as carbohydrate counting ... I do try to avoid foods that are more than 50% carbohydrates. If you take the carbohydrates and divide it by the serving size you can sort of determine if most of the food is composed of carbohydrates, so if that's more than 0.5 I tend to avoid it.

Counting carbohydrates is misleading, following glycemic index is more important. Foods with high GI cause rapid increase in blood sugar, e.g. glucose or white bread. Foods with low GI cause gradual rise and fall in blood sugar levels which is much healthier. Some carbs have high GI, some carbs have low GI. Eating carbs with high GI makes diabetes worse.

Monitoring GI separates the good carbs from the bad carbs.

As a Type 1, it would be impossible to get good control without counting carbohydrates, because I need to base my insulin dose on the number of carbohydrates I'm eating. It doesn't matter if they are "fast" or "slow" they will still raise my blood sugar and I need to match them with insulin, which is impossible to do without carbohydrate counting. Not saying the GI is bad, just that for Type 1s or Type 2s taking insulin, if it's used at all it's secondary to carbohydrate counting. Though I do tend to avoid eating foods like white rice, pasta, and bread and avoid things like regular pop or juice, but this is as much due to the high carbohydrate content as the fact that they have a higher GI value.

But when the carbs from the food make your BG rise faster than the insulin makes it drop, you'll spike after eating. That has a lot to do with the one-hour test. Most people only care about the two and three hour tests, but I know for myself that I don't feel well when I rise fast.

You're right, and for those taking insulin this also relates to pre-bolusing a certain amount of time before eating to let the insulin get a head start. I'll admit that, for myself, I haven't figured that out. No matter what I eat, it's near impossible to not spike at one hour without ending up low at two. When I try pre-bolusing, half the time I end up low right as I'm starting to eat. With really low GI foods you get the opposite problem where the insulin is too fast for the food and you end up low after eating and then high later on. I just think that, for people taking insulin, glycemic index is still secondary to carbohydrate counting (and carbohydrate counting is hardly "misleading" unless you count fake concepts like "net carbs"), even though it may still be relevant.

I wonder if having the warning that a food is low GI would let you adjust your timing.

I generally know which foods are high GI and low GI, though. I just think it's very, very tricky to get right unless you are willing to sit down and track everything you eat and test multiple times after each meal and keep spreadsheets tabulating the results for all the foods that have GI numbers (which I don't think all foods do). And then of course there's the effects of fat which slow digestion and will compound results, and the effects of protein which cause a slower rise, so you'd have to figure out how to filter out the effects of those things. And that's not even counting the fact that sometimes I:C ratio changes completely from other factors which might make some results complete outliers that would also need filtering.

For me, just keeping on top of adjustments to my I:C ratio, ISF, and basal rate are enough. Maybe when my A1c is closer to where I want it (which has been a years-long journey) I'll get bored and feel like I need something more challenging to work on. For now, I don't see much advantage to checking GI values as long as I know in general what is high, medium, or low GI.

As I said, this may be a completely different story for Type 2s not taking insulin. For them, maybe GI is more important than carbohydrates. But I'd think if someone had to choose between eating LC or low GI, LC would be more effective in general. Eating 25 grams of something is going to probably be better for your blood sugar than eating 50 grams of something that is low GI versus 50 grams of something that is high GI.

Note that I'm not in any way saying a GI symbol is bad! Just that the statement that GI is more important than carbohydrate counting is not true for most people, in my opinion.

I agree with you. For people on insulin, carb-counting is infinitely more important. For people who aren't on insulin, low GI gives the body more time to make more insulin so it doesn't run out all at once and can't keep up.

Yes, I am type-2 so I am concentrate on avoiding blood sugar spikes and reducing my overall sugar level. In type-1 you use the insulin to actively control the sugar level, so glycemic issues are not so significant.

I found glycemic index to be useless for me... for instance sweet potatoes- I think these are considered low glycemic: they raise my bg the same way regular potatoes do, often very quickly and or a lot.. In most cases it is just the carbs and the particular form of carbs which matter for me. I also found net carb ratings to be misleading on some products.. for instance the cheesecake factory lo carb cheesecake has around 4-5 g carbs if you look at net carbs which is what they emphasize, while the actual total carbs are 27g! All carbs have pretty much the same effect for me unless it is green & lo carb non starchy veggies and berries. Too many berries can spike me also and if I'm not dropping too fast I can use them sparingly to raise bg.

I know some T2's find the Glycemic Index useful, but I tried it soon after diagnosis and could not meet my blood sugar goals. For me adopting the "Eat to Your Meter" system quickly identified which foods I had to eliminate. In effect through testing and logging meals you can produce your own personal Glycemic index.

That is what I do. While it seems I do better with slower carbs I still have to carb count. So I eat to my meter since it seems some things that really jack me up (like oatmeal) aren't supposed to.

I’m in the group that believes a lot of the “glycemic” labeling is overhyped. I recently had cause to check out (online) a certifying agency (http:/ and their test methods, and much of what I saw raised my hackles and bumped the BS meter off the scale.

[quote]I found glycemic index to be useless for me… for instance sweet potatoes- I think these are considered low glycemic: they raise my bg the same way regular potatoes do, often very
quickly and or a lot.[/quote]

With the glycemic index, anything that is 70 or above is considered high on the index. Both white potato and sweet potato are 70 or above, so they are both high. Personally, I find the glycemic index very helpful, but I use it by looking at the broad categories (low/medium/high) rather than the exact number. I find that by measuring carbohydrates exactly (weighing/measuring the food) and sticking to meals that are low or medium on the glycemic index are very useful strategies in addition to pre-bolusing and limiting carbohydrates somewhat (to 50 grams or less per meal) in controlling after-meal spikes.

1 Like

While I don’t look at the glycemic index of foods, I do limit my carb consumption so that the carbs I consume are not of sufficient quantity to give me BG trouble. I don’t eat, or severely limit, bread, crackers, noodles, rice, potatoes, liquid carbs, and high carb veggies like beans. As such my diet doesn’t discriminate based on glycemic index; I just limit all carbs.

I’m glad it works for you Jen, unfortunately nothing works all that well for me consistently- each day is different and there are just too many other variables other than food & insulin that contribute to meal bg. I can eat 1/2 green pepper, a small cucumber, two eggs, a tiny amount of berries and straight tea and jump rapidly to 170 or higher from a 90 bg. One day I spike rapidly another I crash and there is no way to predict it… add even a small amount of activity at the right time and I can crash. But I’ve eliminated all the foods that I know for sure spike me rapidly and very high 90% of the time- at least that has helped in some way.

1 Like

[quote]I’m glad it works for you Jen, unfortunately nothing works all that well
for me consistently- each day is different and there are just too many
other variables other than food & insulin that contribute to meal bg.[/quote]

Oh, I totally agree. Every day is different and constantly changing. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise! I can’t take my eyes off my CGM for more than about an hour without things going crazy. Even with checking every 30-60 minutes and taking action depending on what I see, I have highs and lows every day. I just find that, in general, the lower GI foods are best at avoiding huge, rapid spikes. Sweet potato definitely spikes me fast, similar to cereal and other foods like that.

1 Like

I rarely go into McD’s but today, now that they offer breakfast all day, I ate there and was surprised to see nutrition info on all of the cardboard containers for the foods we chose today. I didn’t know they did that (then again, I rarely go into a McD’s)

It really does not work well for dosing insulin, they used healthy individuals to test the glycemic impact of a particular food based on the impact of a standard food item like white rice over a standard period of time. But the problem with this Glycemic index idea was that everyone’s impact and timing was different so the same food could score higher or lower on the scale for different individuals. And then when you add in the digestive and metabolic differences of a PWD the system became useless (JMHO) for determining how much more or less a particular amount of food would ultimately rise ones BG.The next problem Glycemic index is faced with is every food item and all of the unlimited combinations of food items need to be tested. When two different food items are mixed together then the index changes, and also how and how long the food is processed changes the index dramatically…FYI…YMMV.

A PWD needs to know how much a particular amount of food is going to impact BG…not how much impact it has at one or two hours, we need the total impact so we can calculate a bolus…