Delighted!  Examining my winter waistline, (I did manage four walks over the Christmas week) I resolved to attend to my waist/hip ratio.

This is an important health marker and a poor ratio is a risk factor for both diabetes and heart disease.  In my case creeping middle-age spread has got the better of me – having stayed stable for some months I have put on a few pounds over the winter holidays.  Anyone else?

I was on a quick visit to the library and picked up a couple of useful books; one on self-help for diabetics (diet and exercise largely) and one on Glycaemic Load (GL).  There was a fair bit of overlap between the two.  I reasoned that a diet good for diabetes control would also function for diabetes prevention.

Imagine my delight when both books recommended dark (70% cocoa solids or above) chocolate as a good snack!

Both books were emphasising low glycaemic foods.  I had to learn the difference between GL and GI here – both indices give you a number that tells you how fast that particular food raises your blood sugar levels.  Carrots get quite a high GI because this index is based on enough food to supply 50 grammes of sugar.  As carrots are very high in water, you need to eat over a pound and a half of carrots to get so much sugar!  GL is based on portions, so the humble carrot doesn’t get demonised.  It is much easier to follow when planning meals.

There are demons of course, because sugary and refined starch foods (even wholemeal grain can be high GL if it is very finely milled and highly processed) raise blood sugar rapidly, which ends up with energy being converted to fat for storage.  We often forget that sugar and starch can be turned into fat by the body.  

The heavenly part of this way of eating is that there is plenty of filling food, delicious food and no calorie counting.

For families, the biggest plus is that it is a healthy way of eating for the whole family.   Growing kids need plenty of energy, so your teenager will need bigger portions than you if you are not taking masses of exercise.  Your dinner plate still has vegetables, protein and carbohydrate, but the carbohydrate portion is smaller and it is low or medium GL. 

Following the 80:20 rule I have had Friday night off and had some leeky mash and sausages tonight.  Lots more leeks and less potato would have lowered the GL of the meal, but as long as my indulgent meals are not more than 20% of total, then I am in check if not making progress as fast as I could if I were stricter.