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Determining if Your Mixed Meal is Low-Glycemic

Figuring out if a food is low glycemic takes human testing, so it's not so simple to get every food tested. As of now, you can find most of your common single foods, but what about mixed meals like lasagna or macaroni and cheese? How can you tell where they lay on the glycemic scale?

The good news is some of these mixed meals have been tested, making it easy to determine if it's a good choice for you. Here are some popular mixed meals and their glycemic load.

Mixed Meal Serving Size Glycemic Load Glycemic value
Macaroni and cheese 3/4 cup 33 High
Chicken nuggets (chicken and breading) 3.5 ounces 7 Low
Frozen fish sticks (fish and breading) 3.5 ounces 7 Low
Cheese pizza 1 slice 16 Medium
Pizza, super supreme, thin crust (Pizza Hut) 1 slice 7 Low
Spaghetti with meat sauce 1 cup 17 Medium
Cheese sandwich with white bread 1 sandwich 23 High
Stir-fry vegetables with chicken over boiled rice 1 cup 37 High
Black bean soup 1 cup 17 Medium
Lentil soup 1 cup 9 Low
Minestrone soup 1 cup 7 Low
Tomato soup 1 cup 6 Low
Hummus 2 tablespoons 0 Low
Moroccan couscous (with chickpeas and vegetables) 1 cup 17 Medium
Bean burrito in wheat tortilla 3.5 ounce 5 Low

As you begin to venture into a low-glycemic lifestyle you will no doubt run into areas where you aren't sure if your mixed meal is low- or high-glycemic. You can make a good judgment call with the following tips:

  • Use lower-glycemic grains in mixed meals; for example, using brown rice instead of sticky white rice when you go out for sushi or Chinese food.

  • Watch the amount of high-glycemic grains in your mixed meal. Keep the grain part of the meal to a cup or less serving size.

  • When ordering pasta or rice dishes opt for those that contain lean meats and vegetables to help decrease the amount of high glycemic grains you eat.

  • Choose dishes that contain protein and a little fat. This can often help decrease the glycemic load of mixed meals.

  • Go for entrees that contain a combination of low-glycemic foods like a Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad.

  • Make meals with acidic ingredients like vinegars or lemon juice to help lower the glycemic load of your entire meal.

Take your time adjusting to these changes in order to give yourself a better chance of sticking with them. Set a goal to include a low-glycemic food at just one meal the first few days. Then, include a low-glycemic food at a second meal. By the time one month has passed, you'll find incorporating low-glycemic foods is a habit, not a chore. You'll also notice improved health and mood benefits.

As long as you start with small, reasonable changes in the foods you routinely eat, you'll gradually consume more low-glycemic foods and fewer high-glycemic foods over time. The end result will be an overall moderate- to low-glycemic eating pattern.

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