The message couldn’t be simpler: eating low-glycemic foods is the best way to lose weight and create health. That’s why I’ve developed a system to make choosing and preparing low-glycemic foods a breeze. At the system’s core is a series of color-coded charts highlighting choices from each food group. You can use these charts at home when you’re preparing meals, while shopping, or when you’re ordering food in a restaurant.
Here’s your rule of thumb:
- Dark green = lowest glycemic (the best foods for weight loss and optimal health)
- Light green = moderate glycemic (foods to be eaten in moderation)
- Red = high glycemic (foods to be avoided)
As you begin, your healthy eating selections should come from the dark-green charts (see the vegetable chart for an example of how this system will work). These foods are highly effective at turning off your insulin and fat storage and will facilitate reaching and maintaining an optimal weight. The light-green charts list foods that are healthy but should be used sparingly in the first phase of our journey. Foods on the red chart should be used with care only after you’ve reached optimal health.
Remember, two principles—controlling your calorie intake and eating foods that don’t turn on your insulin pump—are the secrets to a long-term eating strategy that will keep you thriving throughout your longer, healthier life. You can adhere to these two principles by using the color charts, the nine-inch plate system, and the three-component system (meat, starches, and vegetables).
Shopping for Food
In the next few exercises, we will explore each food type in greater detail, but there are some general rules that you should keep in mind when you buy food. Fresh is better than frozen, canned, or in a jar, and natural is better than processed, but it can be difficult to buy truly fresh food. If it sat in a warehouse for any amount of time, it probably lost vitamins and nutrients. Solution: when possible, buy locally grown produce.
Following this same reasoning, you should strive to eat natural and organic foods instead of processed foods. Processed foods often contain unhealthy ingredients, like sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, while their natural or organic counterparts do not.
Many people worry that organic food is too expensive, and it’s true, better food costs more, but you need less of it. When you eat bad, processed food, your body is never really satisfied—so you eat more and more, even if you’re stuffed to the gills. With higher-quality food, your eating habits change—you’re eating nutrient-dense food that fulfills the body’s requirements. When your sense of taste is satisfied, your body’s satisfied, and as a result you’re able to stop eating before you’re stuffed.
Here are the main points about your healthy eating system to keep in mind as you plan your daily meals:
- Choose all your carbohydrates (vegetable, fruit, and starch components) from the green lists, with the majority from the dark-green sections.
- Remember to serve your new, healthy food choices on a nine-inch plate.
- Maintain the proper proportions for healthy eating and weight loss: 50% vegetable/fruit (mostly vegetables during the weight-loss phase), 25% starch, and 25% protein.
- Select healthy fueling-break foods. Remember to choose from the healthy periphery of the store, not the interior aisles that are full of unhealthy, processed foods!
- Keep with your Phase I meal schedule: two meals (400 calories each) and four fueling breaks (100 calories each).
Over the next three days, we are going to look at choosing vegetables, fruits, protein, and starches more closely, but if you’d like to go shopping today, reference the Healthy Low Glycemic Shopping for Health section on the resources section of my site.
Are you thirsty? You shouldn’t be. You should be sticking to your weekly Habit of Health by drinking lots of water!