Frequently Asked Questions

Which sweetener is best for children with diabetes?

All sweeteners are not ideal for children – even those with diabetes. No sweetener is superior to any other, the best is to use them as little as possible and to use different ones.Children should preferably be trained to use no sugar in tea and coffee. Having said that, it is quite in order to use ONE LEVEL TEASPOON of sugar in a cup of tea with milk. Remember, a LEVEL teaspoon and then at most twice a day. You may even include ONE – TWO LEVEL TEASPOONS of sugar at meals, if necessary. For example, to balance the tartness of tomato in a bolognaise sauce. The blood glucose control will be as good.

Do you have any good recipe books or websites for GL?

YES we have 8 recipe books:
· Eating for Sustained Energy 1
· Eating for Sustained Energy 2
· Eating for Sustained Energy 3
· Eating for Sustained Energy 4
· Snacks and Treats for Sustained energy 1
· Sustained Energy for Kids
· Fast Food For Sustained Energy
· Sustained Energy For Gluten-free eaters
Another useful book for you is  The South African Glycemic Index and Load Guide – a user-friendly book where you can look up the GI and GL of most commonly eaten foods in South Africa.

Could you tell me the GI or GL of ostrich meat as I never use beef mince only ostrich?

All proteins do NOT HAVE A GI or GL,…..only carbohydrate containing foods have a GI or GL i.e fruits, veges, starches, cereals, sugars, baked goods, sweets, dairy products and most drinks.

Ostrich meat is a good lean protein choice as it is leaner than beef. Remember the portion size is the palm of your hand per meal – no more!

Are brown rice cakes the same GI as white?

We have not yet tested brown rice cakes, but since they undergo the same extensive processing, it is better to assume they are also high GI. This means they release the glucose all at once and will spike blood glucose levels, only to drop them a little later leaving you hungrier than before. They would fall into the red category until proved otherwise by a proper GI test.

In your recipes you use a lot of oat bran. What is this? Is it the same as digestive bran?

Oat bran is the concentrated fibre found in oats. It is a soluble fibre that is very effective at slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates. For this reason we add it to most flour containing recipes to slow down the absorption of the fast release (high GI) flour. Oat bran can also be used to lower the GI of porridges by mixing 3T of oat bran into the cooked porridge.

Because it is white and has no flavour, it can be used freely without compromising taste in most dishes. In addition, oat bran helps to control cholesterol levels and prevent constipation.

Digestive bran, on the other hand, is brown and does not contain any soluble fibre that slows down carbohydrate absorption effectively. It is full of insoluble fibre, which is essential for bowel health, but it cannot lower the GI of foods to which it is added.
For this reason, whole wheat flour and cake flour have the same GI.

Oat bran is sold as the following brands in South Africa.
Is Lactose suitable for those with diabetes?
  • Lactose is a slow-release carbohydrate found naturally in milk and dairy products.
  • Lactose has an internationally tested low glycemic index, which ensures minimal excursions in blood glucose levels after ingestion at reasonable levels.
  • 20g of lactose ingested at any one time is regarded as a “reasonable level of ingestion”. This implies that a bolus of no more than 20g of lactose should be ingested by those with diabetes. Any level of intake below that is quite safe and will not increase blood glucose levels to any extent.
    The GI of lactose is 46 (where the GI of glucose is 100).
  • Lactose is thus suitable for all those with diabetes.
  • It is maltodextrin, dextrin, dextrose and invert syrup that one needs to watch out for as these are absorbed super fast and could increase blood glucose levels excessively. All of these sugar alternatives have GI values over 80, making them unsuitable for those with diabetes.
Why do GI values vary from one source to another. This can be very confusing and it seems to me that the nutrition experts are unsure?

When the GI is tested anywhere in the world, the reference food used, can be glucose (as should be the case in SA) or bread.
This means that when bread is used, the bread is allocated a GI value of 100, so that glucose ends up with a value of 136 and so the numbers become confusing.

The GI of cornflakes is 77 ( tested GI of Kelloggs corn flakes in SA) when glucose is the reference food, and 100 when bread is the reference food.
Many authors of scientific papers and books do not realize that the GI can be measured against bread or glucose and so they MIX UP THE TWO VALUES willy nilly in the tables they compile!  The X-Diet  and other books and scientific papers in credible nutrition journals are a case in point.

The most reliable GI values for world values is a paper published in Australia in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This is however confusing for South Africans as porridge in Australia refers to rolled oats porridge with a low GI. But in SA we refer to porridge as mealimeal porridge, which has a very high GI.
Also All Bran in Australia has our Hi Fibre Bran as the equivalent.

Luckily, we have our very own South African Glycemic Index Guide by Gabi Steenkamp and Liesbet Delport, which is available in most book stores. The bold entries are SA tested foods and the other values are world averages.( which of course change every year as more and more foods are tested worldwide). This GI Guide is also colour coded to be in line with the new food labelling regulations which state that a food may only be labelled with the words ‘low’ intermediate’ or ‘high’ GI, if the GI has physically been tested.

The red indicates a high GI food. The red indicating “stop – and think” of you can add a low GI food to compensate for the high GI food on your plate.
The orange an intermediate GI food
The green, a low GI food.

The Glycemic Index Foundation of SA (GIFSA) also runs an endorsement programme, rating foods not only for their GI (low, intermediate and high) , but the endorsements also controls for fat content. Look for the GIFSA Endorsement logo on products in SA supermarkets:
Low GI

Eating for Sustained Energy

Together with colleagues, Gabi has put together a fantastic range of recipe books and information books incorporating the glycemic index into daily living nutrition skills.