Let’s start off by saying I’ve never been a fan of the Glycemic Index that seemed to gain popularity when I was a nutrition student.

Too many factors to skew the number.

How long was the potato stored for?

How ripe was the banana?

Were the carrots steamed or boiled?

Plus when did I ever sit down to a meal of just bread? I’d at least smear some peanut butter on it, throwing the whole Glycemic Index value essentially out the window.

Unless, however, I was a kid at snack time. Then I’m typically eating one thing. From a baggy. On the go.

Fast forward 20 years, and I’m asked by a co-worker if I could think of any way for our hospital’s nutrition department to be a part of the local school districts “Bike Rodeo”. I instantly thought of: Appropriate Snacks for Kids. “Maybe a graph that depicts how much lasting energy you’d get from this snack vs the spike from that snack.”

Fuel Your Ride was born.

But what information was I going to use to depict such things? I honestly thought  a Google search would have lead me to a graph already created by geniuses from some west coast hippie city. But nothing.

So I went old school. First what essentially tells us how quickly food (carbs) turn into sugar?

Glycemic Index.

AND how much glucose (sugar) it will deliver?

Glycemic Load.

Think of Glycemic Load as a measurement of quality of carbs AND quantity.

With Glycemic Index alone, items like watermelon and popcorn are high or “bad” at 72, but their Glycemic Loads are less than 6, making them more than a reasonable choice, but a GOOD choice.

Rules of Glycemic Load are simple. Anything with a score 10 and less is ideal. Anything with a score 20 or higher, not so good. 11-19 is ok. You can do better. You can do worse.

Both Glycemic Index and Glycemic Loads have been used for decades as weight loss tools. My goal is for my kids and their friends, not to be bouncing off their beds one minute, then in tears of rage because friend A didn’t want to play kittens. She only wanted to play cats. (Seriously. Aren’t they the same?)

I apologize for my lack of west coast hippie inspired graphs. But somehow my Excel skills didn’t follow me after graduate school.

Here’s a quick list to reference when fueling your child or yourself. And if your child or yourself “accidentally” grabs the Skittles, you can lower that blood sugar from spiking by adding protein. Who says String Cheese and Skittles don’t go together?

And just because something is in the green (Hello there Peanut M&M’s) it’s not a free pass. There’s still calories. And fat. And saturated fat.

Food GL   Food GL
Orange Pop-1c 23 Peach-1medium 5
Orange Gatorade-1c 13 Peach canned in light syrup- ~1/2c 9
Orange Juice-1c 12 Pears canned in Pear Juice- ~1/2c 5
Milk- 1c 4 Banana- 1 med 11
  Raisins- 3/8c 28
Coco Pops-1c 20 Watermelon- ~3/4c 4
Cornflakes-1c 20
Raisin Bran- 1c 12 Skittles- 47 pieces 32
  Pretzels- 20 minis 16
Carrots- 7 baby 2 Potato Chips- ~27 12
Baked potato- 1med 33 Peanut M&M’s- 15 6
Peas- ~1/2c 4 Fruit Roll Up- 2 24

What are your thoughts? Have you used Glycemic Index or Glycemic Load before? Will you be changing up your snack?  Leave a comment below.