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The Glycemic Index: Changing Your Eating Habits

When we were children in school, we were taught to eat certain foods to maintain a healthy diet, but unfortunately, as we age, those needs change. Besides, who is going to tell a child to eat whole wheat bread? Sour dough bread? Whole grain cereals? At that age, the important thing was to assure that a child ate three complete meals a day compared to grabbing a candy bar or bag of chips! Children’s needs are definitely different from those of an adult, and even adult needs change as we grow older and our bodies go through the changes that are part of the process of aging. As that happens, eating healthy becomes more important, and we learn that some of the foods we are used to eating are not as healthy as we once thought.

Many of us were taught in school nutrition classes that the complex carbohydrates were those of a non-sugar basis such as breads and cereals instead of cakes and candy bars. Although breads and cereals are still healthier than a candy bar, we now know that they still convert to sugar in the bloodstream, and thus we should eat them in moderation. The sad part is that if we had been taught as children that whole grains such as whole wheat bread and oat, barley, and bran cereals were healthier, we would have become used to those products and wouldn’t give it a second thought. Because we did not learn that at an early age, we have had to learn it later in life, and thus the transition to a different way of eating is much more difficult. When you have been used to eating high-calorie white bread all of your life, the change to whole wheat or sour dough bread is very difficult. This is especially difficult if you have a family member who blatantly refuses to eat wheat bread, so you have to avoid the temptation to eat white bread because it’s in the house.

It’s important to learn as early as possible about healthy eating so that the transition to carbohydrates with a low glycemic index is not such a shock for your body. Anytime you change your eating habits, your body has to become used to the transition, and that may take a few weeks before you no longer crave the foods that you used to eat. That doesn’t mean you need to give up all of the high glycemic index carbohydrates, but you want to reduce your consumption of them for your body’s health.

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