Feedback—Your FAQs Answered

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My 10-year-old daughter has recently been diagnosed with insulin resistance. We are already eating a low GI diet but I need some help with portion sizing and interesting meals that are kid-friendly. I am having great difficulty finding this information – can you give me some advice?
‘That’s a tough one,’ says dietitian Kaye Foster-Powell who helped us answer this. ‘Insulin resistance at age 10. It may be a good idea to consult a registered dietitian with special expertise in children’s needs as well as an understanding of the GI, in the meantime, here are some ideas.’

A typical day

  • Breakfast: ½ cup of cooked porridge made from traditional oats (not instant) with a teaspoon of sugar or honey served with ½ cup low fat milk
  • Lunch: Low GI bread sandwich including 2 slices of bread, 2 teaspoons of canola margarine, 60 g (2 oz) of chicken, lean roast beef or pork, egg or canned fish with a couple of vegetable serves either as salad on the sandwich or served separately as carrot, celery, red capsicum, cucumber bits, grape tomatoes, baby beets, etc.
  • Dinner: Around 80–100 g (2½–3 ½ oz) lean meat or chicken or 150 g (5½ oz) fish + 2 starchy serves and plenty of veggies.

Plus the following incorporated as part of these meals or as snacks:

  • 1 cup of low fat fruit yoghurt
  • An apple
  • 2 mandarins
  • A cup of low fat milk

Some typical main meals

  • 1 cup of pasta with 1 cup of vegetable-rich bolognaise sauce
  • 1 cup of cooked rice with about ½ cup of stir-fried meat strips and at least 1½ cups of vegetables
  • 1 cup of noodles, 1 or 2 eggs and a combination of Asian stir-fried vegetables
  • 1 roast chicken drumstick without skin served with 1 medium baked potato or similar sized sweet potato chunk plus at least 1 cup of other vegetables such as roast pumpkin, peas, beans, broccoli, and cauliflower
  • A bowl of home-made vegetable soup followed by ½ cup of baked beans, an egg plus 2 slices of toast
  • 4 regular sized taco shells filled with chilli beans, lettuce, tomato slices, grated reduced fat cheese and about ¼ avocado

Kaye Foster-Powell

Why aren’t the GI values of all those vegetables we are urged to eat 5 serves a day of on the GI database?

The GI is a measure of carbohydrate quality and only applies to carb-rich foods. Most vegetables from artichokes to zucchini along with all your favourite greens and salad veggies contain so little carbohydrate they won’t have much effect on blood glucose levels at all, and their GI can’t be measured following the international standardised procedure. Root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips and squash such as butternut pumpkin/winter squash contain a little carbohydrate and have low GI values, so pop them on the plate when serving dinner.

What we say is, brighten your plate (at least half of it) with a variety of colourful vegetables. They are full of fibre and essential nutrients that fill you up without adding extra kilojoules/calories. Try leafy green and salad vegetables; green peas and beans; broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower; zucchini and baby squash; onions and leeks; fennel and asparagus; carrots, parsnips and pumpkin; and don’t forget mushrooms (yes we know that they are really fungi). Opt for flavour and enjoy vegetables fresh in season or frozen year round. If choosing canned convenience, make sure you buy brands with no added salt.

Photo: Ian Hofstetter, from Zest by Catherine Saxelby and Jennene Plummer

Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potato, sweet corn, yams, taro and legumes, belong in the carb-rich foods (not the vegetables) part of the plate. You need to keep portions moderate (a quarter of the plate as the diagram shows) and choose the low GI types. These carb-rich foods are all in the GI database and listed in The New Glucose Revolution Shopper’s Guide to GI Values.

If you are unsure about how to use the GI database, just scroll down to the bottom of GI News and see the step-by-step guide.