I am grateful for the labels that now appear on food products. There is a lot of helpful information on these food labels. However, I would like to see two more on all products. It would be really nice if the labels included glycemic index and glycemic load as two of the listed items. It would be much easier to make healthy choices in the food we eat, if these labels did appear on all food products. What can we do to start a campaign to add these items to all food labels?
What are Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load? Glycemic Index is more commonly used than Glycemic Load. Glycemic Index is how fast the carbohydrates in each serving of food turn to glucose in the blood (“blood sugar”). The Glycemic Load is a combination of how much of these carbohydrates are present in the food and how fast they transform into blood sugar (glycemic index). The example I like to use is that Glycemic Index is equivalent to the height of a waterfall and the Glycemic Load takes into account that height and the amount of water actually coming over the falls. The more water, the more dangerous, no matter how high or low the drop is. However, even a high waterfall with very little water going over the edge is not nearly as dangerous as the Mississippi River in flood stage. So the quantity we eat is just as important as the low or high GI and GL foods that we do eat.
Glycemic Index is not enough to judge a food. For example, carrots have a GI of 42, but a GL of only 3. The sugars/carbohydrates they have turn into blood sugar quite quickly. However, they do not contain that many carbohydrates. In comparison, Betty Crocker Chocolate Cake has a GI of only 38, but a GL of 20. Just going on the GI of each item, it would appear that Betty Crocker Chocolate Cake is better for us than carrots. Our intuition would said “That’s not right!” However, until we look at the GL it appears that our intuition may be wrong. If you would like to look up this information, it is from Dr. Ray Strand’s Healthy for Life book. It is the book we are currently using in our classes.
Looking at the current food labels, they do have a lot of information. However, they can be misleading. For example, we can look at oatmeal. There are four types that are on the grocery shelves: steel cut, Old Fashion (takes about five minutes to cook), Quick (takes about 1 minute to cook), and Instant (just add hot water). The current labels on all four products are identical (minus any sugars that are added to the Instant Oatmeal). However, the Glycemic Index and Load start off reasonably low with the steel cut, are medium with the Old Fashion, are high with the Quick Oatmeal, and are extremely high with the Instant Oatmeal. It is impossible to tell the difference with the current label.
I believe that all foods should be labelled with both a Glycemic Index and a Glycemic Load. I am looking at what options we do have to add such information. If you agree, do you have suggestions on how to have these two items added?