low_glycemic_gluten_free_diet

How to Eat a Low-Glycemic Gluten-Free Diet

Here at CeliAct, we’re all about “beyond gluten-free”. While you need to follow a gluten-free diet, you need to go beyond the gluten-free diet and do more for your health.

When you go grocery shopping, the need to find gluten-free food is so monumentally important, that most other concerns go out the door. You may be pleased with a product once you’re done scanning the label for those dreaded ingredients that force you to put it down. When you deem something to be gluten-free, often other health standards are tossed aside.

Well, gluten-free isn’t enough anymore. We need to eat healthier diets, and it starts with a basic understanding of something called the glycemic index.

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You may have noticed the terms “low glycemic index” or “low GI” on food packaging lately, but do you understand what the glycemic index is? Let’s explore how gluten-free eating and low-glycemic eating intersect.

 

What Is the Glycemic Index?

 

The glycemic index (GI) measures how a person’s blood glucose (“blood sugar”) responds to ingestion of a specific food. Some foods cause quick and dramatic peaks in blood glucose, while others do not. The glycemic index is a system for measurement that compares foods to either pure glucose or white bread, each of which has a GI of 100.

Each food is analyzed for its GI rating by giving 50g of it to human volunteers and measuring their blood glucose levels over the course of two hours. Low glycemic foods are those that release glucose into the bloodstream slowly and steadily, without dramatic peaks and drops.

  • Low GI foods have a value of 55 or less
  • Medium GI foods have a value of 56-69
  • High GI foods have a value of 70 or above

 

What Determines a Food’s Glycemic Index?

 

Whether a food is low or high glycemic depends on a variety of factors. High carbohydrate foods are not automatically high glycemic. The factors that make a food high or low glycemic include whether the starch has been gelatinized, how processed a grain or other carbohydrate source is, how much dietary fiber is in the food, how much fat and protein is in the food, whether it contains acids, whether it contains enzymes, and what type of starch is in the food. Thus, some types of bread are low-glycemic despite being high in carbohydrates due to other factors in their preparation.

 

Why Should I Care About the Glycemic Index?

 

The GI is the foundation for many diets used for weight loss, such as the South Beach Diet. Research has shown it can help you lose weight, prevent or reverse Type II diabetes, or control polycystic ovarian syndrome, cardiovascular disease or macular degeneration. A low GI diet may help prevent obesity and Type II diabetes as well as related complications such as atherosclerosis, kidney disease and organ damage.

Because avoiding high-GI foods results in more steady blood glucose levels with fewer spikes, people frequently report less hypoglycemia, steadier moods, fewer food cravings, less food binging, lower blood glucose monitor readings and greater weight loss than with a conventional diet.

 

Are Gluten-Free Diets Low-Glycemic?

 

Gluten-free diets are not inherently low-GI. In fact, gluten-free processed foods, such as breads, cookies and pasta, are typically even higher GI than their wheat-based counterparts. Most processed gluten-free foods are lower in fiber, more processed and devoid of whole grains. They are often based upon high GI white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch and corn starch. Even those that use higher-fiber, moderate-GI raw ingredients are processed in a way that may raise their glycemic index.

 

Combining a Gluten-Free Diet with a Low-GI Diet

 

In general, a low-glycemic gluten-free diet emphasizes minimally processed foods, lean proteins, dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes, non-starchy vegetables, and low-glycemic fruits. Whole grains, especially in their unrefined form, are also an important part of the diet in moderation.

Here are some additional tips to help you follow a low-GI gluten-free diet:

    • Instead of consuming rice pasta, you should choose a serving of high-fiber, high-protein pasta made from quinoa. Ancient Harvest has an excellent line of quinoa-based pastas that are available in many grocery stores as well as online through GlutenFreely.com.

 

    • For breakfast, try making some oatmeal from certified gluten-free oats (Bob’s Red Mill sells very affordable bags), or you can try pre-made hot cereals from GlutenFreeda or Cocomama that are high in fiber and low GI.

 

    • Instead of eating starch-based gluten-free cookies purchased at the store, you can bake cookies with certified gluten-free oats or quinoa flour, and a low-glycemic sweetener such as agave nectar.

 

  • A baked low-GI sweet potato is a great substitute for a high-GI baked white potato.

Focusing on incorporating healthy fats, protein, minimally processed foods and dietary fiber into your meal will help lower your gluten-free diet’s glycemic impact.

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Author Info

Giliah Nagar

Comments ( 17 )

  • Ruth Charnow

    Thank you for alerting us to eating healthier.We now know Celiac is not the end of life, just a healthier alternative to living.Joining a Celiac support group in conjunction with the web sure makes it easier.I commend you for your work and hindsight in helping others.Staying in a healthy routine and being aware, as well as optimistic, sure helps! Educating consumers, industries, medical,legal,travel organizations a must! I myself plan to attend Gluten Free conferences in Ft Lauderdale,FL Feb 19th, 2012 -a great start to a New Year!.
    There is so much that can be done, we need to get the word out there-reach out!
    Anyone want to join me? SJCeliacs@Gmail -Chapter#9/New Jersey is our local group.
    Love to hear your responses soon. Happy Healthy New Year everyone! Make it GF4me!

  • Signs of celiac

    I will check out quinoa flour. Nuts flours where do they fall into this and is there a low GI chart on the web somewhere so people can look up a product if they dont know the GI of it? I am also doing research on foods. Agave nectar is said to be worst than white sugar for you. I recommend checking out a video called sugar the bitter truth. Its about fructose and glucose and how it affects the body.

  • Lorre

    Finally this is being talked about. My diet has gotten so bad since going gluten free because I will opt for a box of gluten free cookies over a meal that had gluten in. This survival habit has resulted in unhealthy eating and weight gain. I wish more “Safe” products considered the sugar and other ingredients used. I exchanged whole food, organic eating for pre-packaged junk.

  • Cara

    Lorre, I was headed down the same path and putting on weight when I discovered many great gluten free recipe blogs and started making the cookies and muffins and other high carb baked goods at home with healthier ingredients. Here is a link to Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, and if you go searching or following her links you’ll find other great recipes and ideas. You’ve taken the first step and realized what needs to be done, hope this helps you to do it. And making a commitment to eating low glycemic and healthier gluten free does work – I’ve lost the 10 lbs I put on and feel much better. http://simplysugarandglutenfree.com/swapping-your-sweets-my-point-of-view/

  • Kuldeep Singh

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  • Hurbetpanels

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  • Khanmomin

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  • Jack113

    Hi,
    Thank you for your great information about this topics.Start your day with a delicious low glycemic food,a portion controlled shake that is a completely balanced meal with protein, carbs,vitamins and the right amount of fat! Full Strength provides hours of satiety while turning on the fat burning, turns off the appetite and will help you manage your blood sugar levels.

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  • Kevaryan450

    Hi,
    Thank you for your great information about this topics. low glycemic food Most people with diabetes have given up hope they’d find low glycemic food for breakfast in the form of a shake flavored in chocolate or vanilla. Start your day with a delicious low glycemic food for breakfast as a great delicious shake.
    For more information please visit :
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  • Eliot88

    Hi,
    Thank you for your great information about this topics. low glycemic food Most people with diabetes have given up hope they’d find low glycemic food for breakfast in the form of a shake flavored in chocolate or vanilla. Start your day with a delicious low glycemic food for breakfast as a great delicious shake.
    For more information please visit :
    http://www.thediabeticbreakfast.com
    Phone number:
    (813)642-7299

  • Margie Wirth

    Taken from the Ancient Harvest website.
    What is the percentage of Quinoa to corn in the pasta?

    Our Corn/Quinoa gluten free pasta is primarily a corn based product. We have found our proprietary percentage blend of corn and quinoa delivers the best formula that gives us an exceptional pasta that offers the highest flavor, best texture and excellent nutrition our customers expect from us.

  • Shannon

    I love this article! Another great source of nutrition with a low glycemic index is Shakeology!! Sweetened with Stevia, gluten free and contains 70 Superfoods! Check it out here and message me with questions.

    Myshakeology.com/ShannonHein

  • Bob S

    Good article except you wrote “low-glycemic sweetener such as agave nectar”

    Agave nectar is NOT recommended for a low GI diet. Stevia is your best bet.

    • Melissa B

      Bob S. You are correct Agave syrup is not a good choice if you are watching your glycemic index.
      Another thing that has help my whole family of Celiacs, and my autistic son is Genesis Pure. Dr Lindsey Duncan changed our health forever that to long to list. If interested in learning more email me at mbelser@gfgreen.com

  • MaryPat OBrien

    I not only have gluten sensitivity, I have an ileostomy, my colon has been removed, an iron deficiency saturation and stage 3 kidney disease. Because of these problems I must follow a low soluble only
    fiber, very little fruit, most vegetables, nuts, and some legumes diet.
    I thrive best eating quinoa, potatoes, puréed vegetables and lean
    protein. I have lost 89 pounds but I need to lose at least another 111
    pounds. How do I do this with not only these problems but a mostly bedridden lifestyle at this time?

  • Faye Elahi

    At less than 1, Almond flour has probably the lowest glylcemic index of all flours. Compare it to whole wheat flour at 71 glycemic index! or 98 for rice flour! So as you see not all gluten free flours are created equal. I use it strictly as a flour replacement in baking my gluten free goods (muffins, cookies, breads, cup cakes, pancakes,…) and get rave reviews from my clients and family alike. I am a gluten sensitive nutritionist in plano with specialt in Celiac disease & Special Needs Nutrition for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Food Allergies, ADD, ADHD. Can send me an email at : faye@specialneedsnutrition.com Best of luck. Faye

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