Low GI Foods – Striking the right balance

Food ScalesIt should be clear from the issues that we discussed over the past few weeks that paying attention to the Glycemic Index can play a key role in the fight against the symptoms of ADD-ADHD. This is because foods with low GI values will keep the body ‘powered up’ at a consistent level for much longer. This means that a Low GI diet can be one of the best possible insurance policies against the wild mood swings and impulsive behaviour associated with ADD-ADHD.

You should be convinced by now of the very real benefits of paying attention to the GI values of the food that you eat, so maybe this is the right time to just remind ourselves that it is indeed possible to have ‘too much of a good thing’! Understanding GI values is essential if you want to combat the effects of ADD-ADHD. You should however never submit to the temptation to think that it is the only nutritional principle that you have to pay any attention to. It should instead be an essential part of an integrated and balanced dietary strategy.

Someone once said that if you only have a hammer everything looks like a nail! This is the exact problem behind all the so-called ‘miracle diets’ and ‘cures’ out there. People see the value in one approach or technique and then extrapolate from there that it must work for everything and apply to every situation! In this way the legitimate benefits and the reputation of the technique or approach gets called into question by those finding it ineffective in areas where it was never intended to be used. Unfortunately the Low GI concept is no stranger to this phenomenon. Some unscrupulous operators are already touting it as the next great miracle cure for just about everything. This is very sad since it will make people sceptical about the benefits of eating Low GI foods which, as you are aware by now, are tremendous.

The purpose of this week’s article is to address some of the wilder claims that are made about the Clycemic Index. The most common fallacies surrounding GI can be debunked with the following three warnings:

  • Make sure that you pay attention to other nutritional indicators besides GI: There are certain immutable laws in life. One of them is that if you consume more calories than what you need on a daily basis, and you keep this up for a while, you will gain weight. If you keep it up for a long time it is likely that you will experience serious health problems. This means that GI should just be one of the things that you need to look out for, not the sum total. For example, both ice cream and chocolate have relatively low GI scores. Does this mean that you will be doing yourself a favour by switching to a ‘chocolate only’ diet? Certainly not! The fat content in the chocolate will pretty quickly land you with significant weight gain and all the wild blood sugar swings that go with it!
  • Remember that one of the most important words when it comes to nutrition is ‘balance’: Beware of ‘going overboard’ with GI to such an extent that you only ever eat food with extremely low GI values. Optimum human nutrition can only be achieved if you eat a sufficient variety of foods belonging to different food groups. This means that while it is ok to angle your diet towards a particular kind of food (like Low GI), you should try to avoid cutting all other kinds of food out at the same time. Severely limiting the variety of your diet is never a particularly good idea and can even be harmful over the long term.
  • Get medical advice if you are a diabetic wanting to switch to a Low GI diet: A Low GI diet can be a very effective tool in the management of mild diabetes. You should be aware however that such a diet is likely to significantly alter your blood sugar patterns. You should make sure therefore that you get some professional input from someone familiar with the links between diabetes and diet before commencing a Low GI diet.

It may seem from the above that I am talking down the benefits of a Low GI diet. Far from it! I am absolutely convinced that it is one of the most important tools that we have available in the struggle against ADD-ADHD. As with so many other things in life however, we need to make sure that we understand its benefits and also its limitations. This will help us to use this tool as it was intended to be used and not as some kind of magic ‘cure all’ that will leave us bewildered and frustrated due to our faulty application of legitimate nutritional principles.


Next week we will begin to look at exactly how to strike the right balance as we start to put the building blocks of an ADD-ADHD busting Low GI diet in place!