It’s always fun to notice when the media are trolling your lifestyle choices. Sometimes it’s a rumor, sometimes it’s an appeal to common sense, and sometimes it’s a sneaky spin on scientific research. Recently one of the latter variety has been making the rounds in the blogs, based on a study pointing out that the glycemic index of foods may not have much to do with their actual health benefits.
Of course, to the novice, it’s hard to distinguish the meaningful information from the hype. Every time one of these articles comes out, I have to remind my mother just how much positive impact there has been on my health, my objective measurements, and my sense of self-control from eating the way that I do.
The slant of the articles I’ve read around this topic all tend toward using this irrelevant little piece of information to undermine the low-carb, low-carb-high-fat, and paleo diets at the same time, in favor of the traditional high-carb low-fat diet that’s failed us all for the last fifty years. And why not? That’s the position that will make the best headlines, and draw the most curiosity.
The thing is, anyone who’s been successful on any low-carb diet knows already that the glycemic index isn’t really a measure of how healthy or unhealthy a food is. Glycemic index measures subjective blood-sugar responses to foods, and it varies wildly from person to person. While it can tell you whether a food might trigger your appetite, it has nothing to do with the nutritional value that food provides.
I’m glad the studies are being done. I use glycemic index and glycemic load charts occasionally to evaluate my eating choices. It’s good to understand when a food might make me start to crave carbs, and be mindful of the actual effect it has on me.
But I resent it when that useful information is misapplied to bottom-line health benefits, and as a result, the lifestyle choices I’ve made are questioned.
Now I just have to go explain it all over again to my mother.