The Glycemic Index

Eating with the Glycemic index (GI) in mind

Twenty years ago I was diagnosed with diabetes during my last pregnancy. This is known as “gestational diabetes” and in a lot of cases it goes away when the baby is born. Mine didn’t. Bad luck for me, but it was definitely the beginning of my Sun Temple journey.

I was fortunate that we were still living in London at the time, and the care I received (on the NHS) was nothing short of amazing. It was called my “education” and I was taught how to control blood sugar with military precision as the baby reads the mother’s fluctuations. I’m happy to say that Kirsty (who I was pregnant with) wasn’t affected at all and is a healthy, happy young woman, with no greater chance of developing diabetes than the general public.

In its simplest form, diabetes is a condition where the blood sugar is raised because either there is not enough insulin or the body is resistant to what is being produced. The glycemic index of what we eat is used to control the levels of blood sugar and all it means is the speed with which whatever you eat reaches your blood stream. Anything with refined sugar in it has a high GI. A piece of meat or a bowl of lentils has a low GI. In other words, anything that enters the blood stream quickly because it can be easily broken down has a high GI and the opposite for low GI.

So many people are affected by this disease that I thought I would give you the layman’s explanation of eating with the glycemic index in mind. Eating this way has also been promoted as a good way for everyone to eat and is often used in weight loss programmes.

Let me back up a little. Everything we eat is broken down by the body into a simple compound called a “sugar” So even if you eat a piece of meat, your clever body digests this until it can be welcomed by the teeny tiny building blocks which our bodies are made of ….the cells. This then travels around the body in the blood to feed all our cells. Hence the term “blood sugar”

Lets think of the blood as the roads and highways that course through our bodies. When the “sugar” reaches the “doors” of the cells, they need to be opened by the gate keeper called “insulin” If he is not there, the nourishment which is in the blood sugar can’t get in and so stays in the blood making those levels high.

The diabetic state therefore is when there is not enough insulin present and must be injected or its production stimulated by orally administered drugs. There is a condition known as insulin resistance, often seen in obese people, where their pancreas still produces insulin, but it is only when they lose weight that the resistance goes away and they are no longer diabetic.

High blood sugar, over time, badly affects all the organs in our body. The extremities and really fine blood vessels are the first to be affected. So this is why we see so many people in St. Lucia with missing limbs or with affected eyesight. Kidneys often go too. It’s not a happy thing.

It is therefore a no brainer to keep the blood sugar within acceptable levels without too many highs or lows. This is true for everyone, diabetic or not. Diabetes is called “the silent killer” because it is possible to live with it for years and not know. In St. Lucia people talk about having “a little sugar” I can tell you one thing for sure …… if your blood sugar is controlled properly, you are much more energetic and feel far healthier. When it is high, you are lethargic (because little nourishment is getting into your cells), you are thirsty and you go to the loo often.

How we do this is by eating foods which enter our blood stream in a more slow and measured way. Which is how?

We eat what is more complex and makes our bodies work harder to digest. We eat it the way God made it, not processed so that it is easier both for us to cook and for our bodies to deal with. Sun Temple Food.

“Moderation in all things” is a good mantra, so I would never say don’t eat refined sugar or processed grains etc. What I would say is keep them as treats and eat them alongside food, which is complex so that the easily broken down molecules get tangled in with the rest, and the highway that is your blood does not get congested with too many speedy simple sugar molecules all at once.

I must remind you that I have had no formal training and hold no certificates. What I have said above comes from 20 years of experience, which thank God has allowed me to be healthy and fit.


  • Reply
    Puy lentil and giant couscous salad | Sun Temple Food
    May 8, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    […] down to, happens in a more considered, slower way so we don’t get a sugar rush. It is then a low glycemic […]

  • Reply
    May 14, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Excellent explanation, simple and coherent.

    • Reply
      May 14, 2014 at 6:43 pm


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