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Using the glycemic index to stave off holiday weight gain

December 10, 2014
  • By Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

About the Author

photo of Beverly Merz

Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Beverly Merz is Executive Editor of Harvard Women’s Health Watch, a publication she helped start in 1993. Before coming to Harvard she was an Associate Editor of JAMA, Managing Editor with the Union of Concerned Scientists, … See Full Bio
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February 3, 2015

Health is a top priotiy in life. Eveyone needs it so much for being successful in life. So, big sacrifice for getting big health is a must.

January 24, 2015

Great Info : D

Diane Miller
January 4, 2015

My mother is 100. She lives in her own apartment in an independent living community with 24/7 caregivers, and goes to chair exercises, chair tai chi, bingo, music appreciation. She is a poster girl for ageing. She was a dancer and is in amazingly good health organically, but she had the classic pelvic fracture at 93, completed therapy I record time, but now is slowing down, of course, and developing neuropathy (non-diabetic) and plantar fasciitis, so we think. Her range of motion in the foot and ankle is very restricted now.
Please let us know of anything we can do for the pain and burning. She gets “up” will great effort to go to the bathroom or the sofa, but cannot walk with a walker, so is now in the wheelchair vicious circle.
She is doing the passive stretching exercises, rotation, flex and bend, but I fear it’s too late.

Anthony J Sacco
December 27, 2014

It appears this article is aimed and and/or written for only women. Isn’t that just a wee bit sexist? Or do you guys over there think that men don’t gain weight around the holidays? Believe me. It’s a problem for us men, too.

manfaat madu pahit hitam
December 27, 2014

I really love this blog, increasingly aware of the importance of health
Thank you very much, greeting from Indonesia

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December 17, 2014

I like this article.

December 11, 2014

Some interesting comments, but despite references to Mediterranean diets, barely a mention about WINE, which the Italians & French are known to favor. Where does it appear on the Glycemic Scale ? As for Dominique (above), I’m very skeptical that one can reduce their waist by 8 in., gain 25 lbs., & consider themselves “healthy” !
December 11, 2014

Beverly, Thank you so much for this article, I love the glycemic concept, it is proven, it’s working! will soon be online to offer great recipes and tips to fight obesity and overweight – based on the concept of glycemic index/load.

I just want to clarify something about the Mediterranean Diet (growing up 10 minutes from the Italian border):
The Mediterranean diet is a medium to high glycemic diet, but has some factors to consider:

1) They eat only one big meal a day, Italians favorite the lunch, a business lunch below 3 hours is an offense 😉 so they eat SLOW, small portions, different courses
Breakfast is an Espresso and a bite of a cracker. This pattern is like the “daily Intermittent Fasting”, when Italians are on vacation they skip lunch and the big meal is in the evening, same pattern!
Unfortunately Italians have the second highest Obesity rate in Europe, soon at the level with Mexico and USA (from last place 20 years ago) thanks to Fast Food is taking the place of the classic Mediterranean diet

2) the pasta is “al dente”, we all know that in US but if you have real al dente in a private Italian gathering the majority would probably spit it out, I know people in California who still cook pasta 20minutes (and longer!), we know where the glycemic index goes with cooking

3) sorry, there is no whole grain, the food industry tries to sell this crap there as well, but they LOVE their white bread (at least Spanish, French and Italians), btw. as a hobby athlete I learned from the pros and skipped whole grain back in the 90s: digestive problems, anti-nutritients lead to micro-deficiencies, increasing LDL (especially the small ones, I recommend a pattern test if you do a lot of whole grain), NOTE: the grain is protecting itself against predators, there are vitamins in the bran but all the nasty anti-nutrients as well. TIP: you still eat bread, bake your own with a sourdough and SPROUTED grains, taste better, feels better, but still a nice glycemic load 😉

4) sorry, they eat tons of dairy, but here is the big difference: the majority is FERMENTED, compare the heart health of countries: Switzerland (highest cheese consumption, lowest milk consumption) heart health top, Norway (lowest cheese consumption, highest milk consumption) weakest heart health! BTW read the book “Devil in the milk”/Amazon and you never drink fresh milk again as offered in the US

5) the eat less fruits than a typical Western/US diet, especially the high glycemic fruits (like overly bred bananas) are not popular, here banana #1 🙂

6) the eat lots of meat, Italy is the biggest meat importer in Europe (although pork is stronger than beef there and now pork is also classified as red meat which I don’t fully agree with). But again small portions there, they call that maximum your palm, here people would laugh, in US an average steak is 2-3x bigger

2 more comment:

to pasta: also the durum unfortunately has changed, Monsanto is conquering Europe with all the GMO crop. Another interesting factor is fresh pasta. Italy as the #1 pasta country (double amount of Germany but only a 4th of the population!) love fresh pasta, it is now more available than ever and makes more than 30% of the market (2013 study). While fresh past is DELICIOUS the glycemic index is dramatically high.

to fish: 90% (!!!) of all big fish worldwide is harvested, the rest (of the big fish) carries poisoning amounts of metals (tuna: mercury). Please advice people to eat responsibly: small fish like Mackerels and Anchovies, Farmed fish (get informed about where and if they use anti-biotics, see the last scandal in Norway, the biggest provider of farm fish, they HAVE to use tons of antibiotics to get rid of all the diseases, google bloomberg, a big report there).

Beverly, keep on your good work!!!
Melissa, soon on

Beverly Merz
December 11, 2014

You’re right. The Mediterranean diet isn’t what we usually think of as “Italian.” Instead, it is based on the diets of people living in Greece, Crete, and rugged, coastal regions of Southern Italy in the 1960s. Tara Parker-Pope does a great job clearing up the confusion in the New York Times.

Dominique Blais
December 11, 2014

I have been dieting for years… until this revolutionary way of life changed mine. Almost three years ago, my weight was 250 pounds while my waist was 40 inches.
This method of calculating via the indexes of the nutrients is fundamental. But it works.

Today my waist is 32 while my weight, buy a scale, is steady, at 275 pounds !!! And I am stabilized at that number since last July, while my doctor said do not lose weight anylonger !

Another tip for you transition to a new life, get the book called:
Diet for a new America by John Robbins. You’ll turn vegetarian quickly for sure.

Have a good reading !


Dominique Blais
December 11, 2014

from 250 to 175 not 275 !!!



December 11, 2014

Checkout other blogs that talk about health.

December 10, 2014

Wow, Beverly! There’s a lot of great content here! I am trying to ct out as much sugar as possible. No more candy, donuts or sugar in my coffee. I’m used to it now but it was rough in the beginning.
Thanks, Dan

January 13, 2015

As my parents are getting older I find myself searching for articles pertaining to these types of subjects. The “index” is a vital tool for proper weight losss/gain. Thanks for posting!

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