Easy Low-Glycemic Index Dinner Ideas

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Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) often have issues with insulin resistance leading to high blood sugar and would benefit from following a low glycemic index (GI) diet.

But after a long day of working and/or taking care of your family, it can be hard to think about preparing dinner, let alone learning to cook new recipes.

The good news is, switching to a low GI diet doesn’t have to be difficult and it certainly doesn’t mean that you have to slave over a hot stove for hours at a time. Check out these suggestions for low-glycemic dinners.

Breakfast for Dinner

There’s no rule that you have to eat traditional breakfast or lunch foods for those meals; breakfast can be great for dinner.

Omelets, French toast using sprouted or low-carbohydrate bread, or a sweet potato hash with vegetables and sausage are all very simple to make and can be easily adapted to the low GI diet.

Soup Night

You also can’t get much easier than a bowl of soup with a salad. Make a big pot of your favorite soup and freeze individual portions so you can thaw and reheat them on a particularly busy night.

Aim for soups that are heavy on low-carbohydrate, low-starch vegetables, like carrots and peppers. Clear broth-based soups with lots of low-carb vegetables— like chicken with vegetables, beef with mushroom, or vegetable purees, like cauliflower and leek soup—are easy low GI options.

Stay away from high GI starchy soups, like split pea, corn chowder, or potato soup, which can cause blood sugar spikes.

Low GI Bread

While white and whole wheat pasta both clock in relatively low on the glycemic index, bread is a different story. Two breads in particular—sprouted and sourdough—have been found to be safe to include in a low glycemic food plan. The method of sprouting grains is said to boost the content and availability of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, while lowering the amount of starch. Sourdough, when prepared traditionally, involves a long fermentation process without the aid of commercial yeast.

A 2012 study analyzed the impact of sourdough, sprouted, and 11-grain breads on blood glucose and insulin, and found that sprouted varieties were most effective in lowering glycemic response and sourdough lowered the response of glucagon-like peptide-1, a hormone that helps secrete insulin.

Stir Fry

Veggie stir-fry or fried rice is a great meal that comes together quickly. Sauté whatever vegetables you like (keep a bag of stir-fry vegetables in the freezer just for busy nights) in a little bit of olive or canola oil until done.

You can either toss in a little soy sauce and serve over brown rice—which is slightly lower GI than white rice—or throw the brown rice right in the pan with the vegetables. Scramble an egg or two and add to the rice and vegetable mixture, then toss with soy sauce.

Of course, you can add meat to your stir-fry; chicken, pork, and shrimp are all great ways to add protein. Just make sure that your meat is fully cooked through before adding your vegetables.

Quick Chicken Night

Another great option is to pick up a rotisserie chicken from your grocery store and serve it with a salad or a side of steamed or roasted vegetables.

Keep the leftovers and use the chicken for other meals later in the week. You can make chicken salad (try light mayo, chopped apples, celery, and pecans), chicken fajitas, chicken quesadillas (you can find low carb wraps in your local grocery store), or even make a simple grilled chicken sandwich (don’t forget sprouted or sourdough bread).

Chili

Chili is really simple and healthy as well, and can even be made in your slow cooker. Just throw in your ingredients in the morning, set it to low, and let it cook all day.

Use two cans of whatever beans you have in your pantry—chickpeas and kidney beans are particularly low glycemic—a can of diced or stewed tomatoes, and a large can of crushed tomatoes. You can also sauté some chopped veggies (garlic, onions, carrots, celery, and/or green peppers) and ground meat (beef or turkey work well) and add those to the pot as well.

Season with chili powder to taste. Serve over brown rice.

Plan Ahead

The key to making changes to your diet is planning ahead. Sit down each week to figure out what you want to cook for dinner and make sure to buy everything you’ll need beforehand. There are many websites that offer other ideas for low glycemic index dinners.

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  1. Harvard Medical School. Glycemic index for 60+ foods. Harvard Health Publishing. Updated January 6, 2020.

  2. Chiavaroli L, Kendall C, Braunstein C et al. Effect of pasta in the context of low-glycaemic index dietary patterns on body weight and markers of adiposity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials in adultsBMJ Open. 2018;8(3):e019438. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2017-019438

  3. Mofidi A, Ferraro ZM, Stewart KA, et al. The acute impact of ingestion of sourdough and whole-grain breads on blood glucose, insulin, and incretins in overweight and obese men. J Nutr Metab. 2012;2012:184710. doi:10.1155/2012/184710

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