Sugar and Spice Advice: Getting Healthy

Apples and oranges are a good source of fiber.
Apples and oranges are a good source of fiber.

When I got home from work today my daughter announced she was going to give up eating meat. This decision was made after seeing a gruesome image of a pig being slaughtered. (I did tell you she was an animal lover extraordinaire, didn’t I?) She also realized that giving up the consumption of meat was healthier for her in the long run, and she might even lose some weight. In honor of her healthy decision, and mine to start getting in shape tomorrow (I can’t tonight. I am stuffing chocolate cream pie in my face presently.), I thought I’d extol the virtues of fiber intake and watching the glycemic index. I’ll even be honest and tell you where chocolate cream pie fits on the glycemic index.

The fiber fix. One way to eat healthier, lose weight, and feel better is to add fiber to your diet. You don’t need to get some fancy fad item or an expensive diet plan. Fiber is everywhere. The key is to know your fibers. Soluble fiber. Helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol. Good sources include beans, barley, oats, apples, oranges, lentils (Hungarian recipes do yummy things with lentils), as well as many other fruits and grains.

Insoluble fiber. This type boosts digestive health and bowel function. Wheat bran, whole wheat flour, nuts, and many vegetables contain this dietary goody. The nice thing about either fiber is that they can make you feel fuller longer with less calorie intake.

How much fiber do you need per day? If you’ve been skimping on the fiber I warn you to start to add a little at a time to keep you from experiencing uncomfortable bloating and frequent trips to the toilet. Women need about 25 grams of fiber per day while men need 38 grams per day. Some ways to add the fiber in to your diet: 1) start eating yummy oatmeal for breakfast, 2) add beans to whole wheat pastas and salads, 3) choose whole grain breads, and 4) have your 5 fruit/veggie servings per day.

What is the Glycemic Index and should we care? Having a knowledge of the workings of the GI can be helpful, but like every new fangled diet tip that comes along promising to save the day, use of the GI can be overdone. The Glycemic Index (GI) is a good tool that rates foods based on their impact on a person’s blood sugar (called glucose). This is a great tool for people managing their diabetes. For example, a low GI food doesn’t increase the blood sugar as much as a high GI food (my pie, for instance). But be careful. Just because a food is low on the GI doesn’t always make it healthy.

For example, both soda pop and pound cake are lower in the scale than watermelon. I found that hard to believe, but it is true. Who’d have thunk it? (I guess that might make it an imponderable.) Watermelon can raise blood sugar, as can soda pop and pound cake. But seriously, which food in actuality is better for you? Watermelon, by a landslide!

Let’s take another example. Pizza is low on the glycemic index. So does that make it a health food? Not really. And I am not saying don’t eat it? No, moderation is the key. Pizza is yummy. All the food experts are telling us is to use common sense when reading health information.

Try out some of this information and watch your health improve. Changes don’t have to be drastic to have a positive impact on your health.

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