From the thousands of e-mails I've received I have selected some of the most frequently asked questions (F.A.Q.’s). Though we are not able to answer your questions individually, we will still review them and those that are most frequently asked will be incorporated into this Questions and Answers section. We will also be answering selected reader's questions in our free newsletter. To subscribe simply enter your email address in the subscription panel to the right.
- How is The G.I. Diet different from The Atkins Diet? Can I Switch from Atkins to The G.I. Diet without gaining weight?
The difference is like night and day. The Atkins diet is based on high protein and animal fat (saturated fat) and low carbohydrates. The idea being that the body deprived of carbohydrates as the traditional primary source of energy will be forced to break down fat instead. The process called ketosis which can cause serious long-term health issues such as osteoporosis and kidney damage. The high saturated fat content of the diet is associated with increased risk of heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's and colon and prostate cancers.
The G.I.Diet is quite the reverse. Carbohydrates such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans and low fat dairy are all encouraged, not limited, while saturated fat is virtually eliminated. If there is one thing that all the health, medical and nutritional authorities agree upon it is that a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, lean meat/fish and whole grains is essential for long-term good health. The G.I. Diet in a nutshell.
When you switch diets you may see some temporary weight movement up or down for a couple of weeks as your body adjusts to a very different nutritional pattern. When things settle down you will be able to maintain your weight-loss while giving your body the nutrition it needs for long-term health.
- Is this a good diet for people with diabetes?
The key to controlling diabetes is to control blood sugar levels. It is the raising of blood sugar levels and diabetics’ inability to produce sufficient insulin to remove the sugar from the bloodstream that creates the medical condition called hyperglycemia which if left uncontrolled can lead to death. The glycemic index was originally developed by Dr David Jenkins to address the issue of what carbohydrates could diabetics eat that would minimize hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels). This is why diabetics find The G.I. Diet so effective in the management of their disease. Many have been able to reduce their medications and in some cases even eliminate them. The Canadian Diabetes Association in their house magazine "Dialogue" recommended The G.I. Diet as the best choice for diabetics amongst the leading popular diets. So the whole purpose of the glycemic index is to identify foods that break down more slowly and maintain a steady delivery of sugar into the bloodstream rather than producing a sugar spike associated with high glycemic index foods. The G.I. Diet is built upon low GI foods and thus has a stabilizing impact upon the blood sugar levels of type two diabetic patients.
- Is The G.I. Diet suitable for children?
The G.I. Diet with its emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, lean meat/fish and low fat dairy is ideal for building and nourishing young bodies (note: children under 2 1/2 years have special nutritional needs so first consult your health professional). It also helps establish healthy eating patterns that will live with them throughout their adult life. If overweight, then phase one should be adopted. If not then go straight to phase two. In both cases the amount of good fats should be increased with more emphasis on nuts, vegetable oils and surprise, even natural peanut butter. Though red light for adults because of its high calorie density, it is in fact a low GI product and an excellent source of protein and good fat (limit overweight children to two tablespoons per day).
- I seem to have hit a plateau. What should I do?
This is a common complaint and there are several reasons why this is the case. Check to see if any of these is you.
1. The average weight loss target is 1 lb. per week. Many, if not most of you, will have experienced a greater weight loss especially join the first few weeks. Sometimes you will hit a series of short-term plateaus. The secret is to count the weeks you have been on the diet and divide them into the pounds lost. Usually it’s well over 1 lb. per week. So you're on target and don't fret, your weight loss will start again.
2. You need to check to your serving sizes of green light foods. Look particularly at serving sizes on the few products that have been specified in the book such as potatoes, pasta, rice and nuts, and check you are following the guidelines. With all other green light products ensure moderation is your guidelines. A 500 g tub of cottage cheese at a sitting or 12 apples a day is clearly not moderation. Be honest with yourself and review what you are currently eating.
3. Falling off the wagon. A situation which we all experience occasionally is quite acceptable. However falling off several times a week is not. The occasional deviation is not only acceptable, but encouraged as nothing is less motivating than a straitjacket. Don't make a habit of it or you will move off the plateau in the wrong direction. One reader wrote that his only indiscretion was a couple of peanut butter snacks a day. That "indiscretion" was delivering about 1 lb. per week to his waistline so no wonder he was on a plateau!
4. Your clothes often feel looser before you read it on your scales. There is often a time lag between loss of inches and loss of pounds. Check your clothes out first and the pounds will inevitably follow.
- I am gluten intolerant. Can I still use The G.I. Diet?
Many readers who are gluten intolerant have a genetic disorder called celiac disease. Others simply have an intolerance of wheat products. (Gluten is typically found in the wheat, rye and barley grains.) Either way, The G.I. Diet provides many options for other green light grains such as kasha (toasted buckwheat) millet and amaranth. A complete gluten free food listings is available at www.celiac.com
Recent research has shown that oats can be tolerated by many people with gluten intolerance if kept to half a cup of day. Quite sufficient for a bowl of breakfast oatmeal.
Gluten free breads are readily available in the supermarket. Look for the brand with the highest fiber.
- How is The G.I. Diet different from every other diet out there?
It is the combination of three attributes that makes The G.I. Diet unique. These are:
1. There is no need to go hungry or feel deprived on this diet. The diet is a balanced combination of proteins carbohydrates and good fats all of which are necessary for the maintenance of good health
2. The diet is extremely simple to follow. All foods are colour-coded, on a traffic light basis: red light, yellow light and green light. There is no need to weigh measure or count grams calories or blocks. Simply follow the traffic lights.
The addition of consumer friendly removable pages in the book for shopping, eating out, and a bathroom weight/waist log add to the uniqueness of the book.
3. The diet is actually beneficial to health unlike many of today's diets that are probably harmful to long term health. Virtually all the major health and nutritional authorities agree that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, lean meat/fish and low fat dairy is ideal for maintaining bodily health. For those who have health problems such as hypertension, cholesterol or type two diabetes, The G.I. Diet has shown remarkable impact on them, resulting in reduction in medication and in some cases removing medication entirely.
While there are diets that can claim any one of these attributes, it is the combination that makes this diet unique amongst its competitors.
- When can I expect to see results on the GI Diet?
The GI Diet is not a crash diet as crash diets setup unreasonable expectations and are inevitably unsustainable. The GI Diet anticipates that on average you will lose 1 lb. per week during the weight loss period, though most people experience closer to an average of 2 lbs. per week. The first two or three weeks normally see a greater weight loss while the body adjusts to its new regimen. However, people who are obese and have a greater amount of weight to lose experience a greater weight loss than somebody who is closer to their target weight. So the greater your weight-loss objective the greater the number of pounds per week will be lost.
In many cases the first signs of weight loss are not necessarily pounds but a feeling that you can do up your jeans more easily or that your dress doesn't fit quite so tightly.
- How is the GI Diet different from the South Beach diet?
Broadly speaking there are many similarities between the approach taken in the South Beach diet and the GI Diet. There are a couple of significant variations. First, the South Beach diet starts with a "crash" diet. The GI Diet does not require or recommend a crash diet.
Second, the GI Diet is simpler and easier to use through its unique traffic light colour coding of foods. All the calculations have been done for you. Simply follow the colour coding.
- Can I really eat as much of the green-light foods as I want?
Yes you can, except where I recommend a specific serving or portion size. Serving sizes are important for the few green-light foods that have a higher G.I. rating or calorie content than others, such as pasta, rice, bread, nuts. Let common sense be your guide and keep everything in moderation. So I wouldn’t recommend eating for example, a dozen oranges a day, or ten green-light muffins.
- Is there any flexibility in this diet?
Yes, but only you can determine which rules you can break and still lose weight. Many readers tell me they can’t live without certain red-light foods such as regular coffee or peanut butter. If there’s a product that is that important to you, go ahead and have it, but strictly limit the quantity you consume. Have only one cup of coffee or one tablespoon of peanut butter a day. One reader told me she was on the “Vegas” version of the G.I. Diet, meaning she had a glass of red wine every day on Phase I. She still lost thirty pounds and is wearing the same dress size she wore back in university. Although you will lose weight faster if you follow all the guidelines of the G.I. Diet, it really is okay to live only 90 percent on the program.
- Is "light" peanut butter acceptable?
Regular peanut butter is red light because of its high calorie density. Unfortunately, the “ light” varieties are even worse because the amount of peanuts has been reduced and sugar and starch fillers have been added to make up the shortfall. If you are going to “cheat” with an occasional tablespoon of peanut butter, make sure it’s the natural kind that contains 100 percent peanuts and no added sugar.
- Is the GI diet just for people who want to lose weight?
Whether losing weight is your concern or not, you will find that the G.I.Diet is simply the ideal way to eat. If you do not want to lose any more weight, just go straight to Phase 2 where you can eat both green light and yellow light foods.
The G.I.Diet was designed above all not only to be a healthy way of eating but also to reduce the risk of major diseases such as heart, stroke, diabetes, colon and prostate cancers.
In many ways the word “diet” is unfortunate as it has become associated with weight loss rather than just a way of eating. The G.I.Diet is intended to be the way you will eat the rest of your life; a healthy, active and long one.
There are many readers’ stories about the effects of the G.I.Diet on general health and key health indicators. Manydiabetics have written about their success in controlling their blood sugar resulting in a reduction or even elimination of their medication. There are also many similar stories from readers about lowering their blood pressure, cholesterol and lipids. Check the Readers' Experiences section of this site for more stories.
- I can't find any sugar free yoghurt.
In reality all yoghurts contain some residual sugars. So you should look for lowfat yoghurts that contain a sugar substitute recognising that there will also be a few grams of sugar present.
- What meat / poultry substitutes do you recommend?
There are an increasing number of meat substitute products coming on the market under the headings meatless soy protein or "textured vegetable proteins" (TVP) -- many of these products are green light foods. Some of the most popular are found in burgers such as Boca and Yves. These products are high in protein and low in saturated fat. For other products check the fat levels carefully. Avoid any breaded or battered versions.
- Are soy milk or rice milk acceptable alternatives to cow’s milk?
Low fat, unflavoured soy milk is green light. The flavoured versions are high in sugar and should be avoided. Also look for "calcium fortified" as there is no natural calcium in regular soy milk. Rice milk is red light and therefore unacceptable.
- Why do some GI Diet recipes use red/yellow light foods?
Occasionally we use small amounts of red or yellow light products such as raisins, dried apricots, and cheeses as flavour enhancers. However, because the quantities are limited they do not significantly affect the overall GI level of the recipe.
- Can I use the GI Diet if I am pregnant or breast-feeding?
The GI Diet is ideal for pregnancy and while breast-feeding. In both cases, make sure you are taking three to four servings daily of low fat dairy products such as skim milk. Additionally, when pregnant you should ensure you are getting sufficient prenatal nutrients such as folic acid and iron. Though most of these are present in the GI Diet, your health care provider will probably recommend a supplement. When breast-feeding, we suggest going to Phase 2 to ensure you have sufficient extra calories. Often it is recommended you have a vitamin supplement to ensure you are getting sufficient key vitamins such as A, D, and B complex. In both cases, make sure you discuss your change in diet with your health professional before you start. I'm sure they will be delighted with your decision.