Preventing Blood Sugar Spikes – Using a Glycemic Index Table

Stopping a blood sugar spike after you eat is critical for many diabetics. One way to do this is to use a glycemic index table. These tables are a scientific method of identifying troublesome foods that can raise blood sugar, finding alternatives for these foods and even fine-tuning a meal plan that can help keep blood sugars stable and normal. There are practical ways to use these tables for your own personal advantage.

Find a Reliable Table to Use

Glycemic index tables can be found online on many websites. What does the index do exactly? It is a measure of just how fast blood sugars rise in two hours after eating a certain food. The numbers on the index rate from 0 to 100 with glucose sugar being rated at 100. Foods with a rating of 70+ are the highest rated and will rapidly raise blood sugars over the 2-hour period.

The table I like to use can be found on the American Diabetes Association’s diabetes care website. The table is 58 pages long and contains lots of information on common everyday foods. When using these keep in mind that some factors to consider is how foods are prepared, whether they are fresh, frozen, canned, degree of ripening and so forth. There is a plethora of information on the website besides the table so feel free to browse for information.

The menu on the table measures normal glucose tolerance compared to both bread and glucose, numbers of subjects used to determine values, time period measurements, available carbohydrate and a measurement called glycemic load (more about this particular measurement later).

How to Use the Tables to Find Values for Foods

Not all foods are listed in the table, but it is very comprehensive and contains a number of foods of interest to diabetics and persons looking to reduce their blood sugar spikes. To find a particular food, first locate the category that represents the food – for instance, cakes may be found as a distinct subcategory under “BAKED GOODS” where you can look and see if the particular cake dessert you wish to locate may be found.

Next, look under the headings at the top. The first heading gives a relative value compared to glucose sugar while the second gives a value compared to bread. Note the value for the food you seek and it will give you an idea of how much blood sugar spike you can expect compared to the time period value noted in the table.

Are There Ways To Prevent or Reduce Sugar Spikes?

The answer to that question is a resounding yes! You can and should look for ways to keep blood sugar spikes to a minimum. By knowing the potential for a particular food’s relative value rating from the glycemic index, you can look for ways to stabilize your blood sugars.

My first line of defense is to make sure I am hydrated and drink enough water at meals to mitigate carbs taken in over the course of a meal. Water helps to quickly lower blood sugars and is a great aid for diabetics looking to keep their sugars under control. Many people measure the amount of water they drink during the day to insure they get enough to amplify its effect.

Another friend in the diabetic’s favor is a herb called cinnamon. Some people debate the difference between natural cinnamon bark and the commonly available cinnamon powder often found in supermarkets. I have found that both work extremely well and have both at my fingertips when I need them. I often brew coffee into my pot mixed with cinnamon and enjoy the effect it has in reducing the raising of my blood sugar.

Another technique I employ to help with my blood sugars is the mixture of unfiltered apple cider vinegar in water. Use of as little an amount of two tablespoons in a glass of water is pretty effective. In some people it does cause digestive stress so experiment and see if this is a strategy you can use for yourself.

The use of fiber at meals slows absorption of sugar into the body and can be effective. Using a fiber supplement to accomplish this can help or including naturally occurring foods that contain significant amounts of fiber into your diet. I routinely use a supplement prior to the dinner meal to help meet my daily fiber goals. Having snacks during the day which contain decent amounts of fiber is another way to get your fiber.

Practicing Planning Meals Using GI Tables

First, take into account how much of a serving or servings you will be consuming of a particular food at a meal. Remember that GI represents the potential for how much the food will raise your blood sugar compared to an equivalent amount of glucose or bread. Now is the time to look at glycemic load. Glycemic load tells you how much carbohydrate actually enters the blood stream per serving compared to how much is available in the food. For instance, a particular food may have a total carb rating of 45 but its GL rating may be only 15 which means that its effect on your blood sugar might not be as much as expected when consumed.

Planning to keep your GL load low is an effective strategy. If you take into account how much carb load you have going into your blood stream at meals, mitigate it with an effective blood spike strategy and spread meals far enough apart to reduce glucose absorption, you will be successful in controlling blood sugar spikes. Also, slowly enjoy your meals thoroughly chewing and savoring each bite. The extra time will aid your digestion and ease the effect of glucose on your body.

Identifying and Using Low GI Foods for Yourself

By mapping out meals using the foods you will consume during a day, you can find out an approximate GL value for each meal, time your meals to lower the chances of spikes and mix and match foods for efficiency. You can play with the numbers yourself and streamline your diet to suit your tastes. There are also a number of diet programs available which will do the math for you. In either instance, glycemic values are a very valuable tool for diabetics.



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  1. 1

    Although I don’t have diabetes, this is very interesting, because one of my best friends has diabetes, he lost his leg because if it last year … We sometimes talk about his diet, since he has been careless about it, but he pays more attention now. I loved the tips about cinnamon and apple cider cinnamon, I will definitely share that with him. 

    Is the American Diabetes Association’s diabetes care website the best site to download the glycemic index table? Is it printable?

    • 2
      Elridge Jones

      Hi Christine,

      A lot of readers have asked about where to find the table on the ADA website. I have updated the article to include a link to the table so you can access your favorite foods and see if they are listed. The table is 58 pages long so it would be a lot of printing, but it is in PDF form so it should be printable. There are other websites with glycemic index tables but I would stick with the ADA site because there is so much other info there for diabetics, Thanks for your comment.

  2. 3

    This is a very informative article on how diabetics can go about preventing blood sugar spikes by using a glycemic table.  You’ve even given a good source for such a table.

    As a result of your article i’ve been wondering if some of the foods we traditionally eat where i am from would qualify as low on the Glycemic index, so i thought i would ask.  Are foods like yams, sweet potatoes, corn and peas qualified as low on the glycemic index?

  3. 5
    Annette Persinger

    Elridge thank you for explaining the Glycemic tables and how to use them. My family has a huge history with Diabetes. It can be a struggle keeping the blood sugar in check. My ex-husband passed many years ago due to complications associated with this disease. I found your article very informative and education is key to dealing with this disease.

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