Read an Excerpt
You’ve got to start somewhere, but there’s no point starting a diet unless you intend to be successful. That’s what this book is all about: helping you succeed in reaching your goal of a much healthier lifestyle, not just in the short term but from now on. And it’s not just for you but for your entire family.
What’s so special about this diet book? Why follow its advice rather than the suggestions found in all the other diet books on the shelf? The G.I. Diet is nutritionally sound and scientifically based. It takes complex nutritional concepts and makes them easy to understand and put into practice with a creative traffic light system. The G.I. Diet offers no gimmicks or quick fixes. It is sustainable. It is transforming.
This book, The Family G.I. Diet, takes the proven, best-selling concepts of the original G.I. Diet one important step further: it addresses the entire family. It allows spouses to support one another in the difficult tasks of weight control and eating properly. It deals with age and gender differences. It encourages parents to serve as role models for their children. It makes parents aware of the various behavioural stages of childhood that must be appreciated to improve that most basic of activities, the family meal.
The author, Rick Gallop, is a very special person. He is bright, articulate and innovative. Rick’s credentials for writing a diet book are a bit unusual. He is not a nutritionist, nor is he a physician. But for fifteen years, he served as president of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. He developed a passion for promoting healthy lifestyles that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and its devastating consequences. Rick became frustrated at the high failure rates associated with most diet plans. So, true to his character, he sought to devise a better diet method. And he did.
Ultimately, improving how you and your loved ones live is up to you. If you need some help with this, The Family G.I. Diet is a wonderful guide that will make your entire family feel better and stay healthier. Enjoy the book and enjoy each other.
Norman R. Saunders, MD, FRCP(C)
Department of Pediatrics,
University of Toronto
What is special about being a family doctor is having the chance to accompany a family through many of life’s stages. Where else in medicine does one get to witness children progressing from birth to adolescence and on to adulthood, or middle-aged patients moving on to grapple with retirement or deteriorating health? I have been practising for over twenty years, and the infants I once cared for are now expecting their own children, the young mothers whom I once commiserated with about their sleepless nights are now losing sleep because of hot flashes. As time has passed I have also witnessed the impact of information technology, which has transformed passive patients into active health care advocates who are interested in maintaining health and preventing illness.
At any life stage, nutrition is a primary concern. For this reason, I have welcomed the G.I. Diet as an excellent resource when counselling patients. Diets in general have been anathema to me, because by their very nature they have a start point and an end point, with consequent rebounding and accumulation of even more weight. The G.I. approach is more of a lifestyle than a diet, and it is sustainable because it is based on sound scientific principles. Organizing foods in categories based on the colours of a traffic light provides a straightforward system of eating that anyone can grasp and apply.
In The Family G.I. Diet, Rick Gallop takes the program further by recommending practices to last a lifetime. There is excellent advice on including children in grocery shopping and meal preparation, plus setting clear but flexible limits regarding mealtimes and snacks. One significant piece of information the Gallops share is that it takes ten to fifteen exposures to a new food for a child to accept it. This means parents should not give up introducing their children to vegetables if they initially refuse them. The book also emphasizes the importance of exercise, especially for seniors. This advice is supported by the World Health Organization’s preliminary findings that eating well and exercising not only extend one’s lifespan but also prevent infirmity.
The G.I. Diet is a weight-loss program that I am able to endorse as I see its results with my own eyes. Patients thank me for recommending the diet to them because they’ve lost weight and feel more energetic than ever. Embarking on this program has immediate health benefits and also teaches us life lessons about staying well.
Pauline Pariser, M.Asc, MD, CCFP, CFCP
Department of Family and Community Medicine,
University of Toronto
My first book, The G.I. Diet, was published in 2002 and quickly became the most successful Canadian diet book ever, with more than one and a half million copies sold worldwide. It is currently available in fifteen countries, in a dozen different languages, and it made The New York Times bestseller list. The Canadian Diabetes Association rated the G.I. Diet as the first choice among today’s leading diets–and there are a lot of them to choose from now! But my greatest delight has been the enormous number of reader e-mails I’ve received. I had no idea that the book would generate such a flood of responses, and I was amazed to hear about all the ways in which this new approach to eating has actually changed people’s lives. I’ve heard from tens of thousands of readers, in messages that are personal, thoughtful, supportive – and frequently ecstatic!
It was this feedback that encouraged me to embark on this new book, The Family G.I. Diet. Why focus on the family? The first reason is that most of the correspondence I’ve received has been from women. And despite all the changes in family life, for better or worse most women still play the role of chief shopper, cook and gatekeeper for their family’s health and nutrition. At the same time, women, as well as men, are working longer hours outside the house. They just can’t devote a lot of their time to “managing” the way the family eats, too. One of their biggest challenges is figuring out how to prepare a different set of diet meals for themselves while cooking for the rest of the family. How can they control their own weight, meet the needs and culinary whims of the rest of the family and somehow avoid becoming a short-order cook?
There’s another consideration as well. Men and women have different nutritional needs, depending on their stage of life and hormonal factors. A woman expecting twins won’t have the same appetite and nutritional demands as the elderly grandfather who might be sharing the dinner table with her. Menopause also brings its own metabolic changes and nutritional shifts for women. And teenagers may have a strange concept of what constitutes a “hearty breakfast.” My wife, Ruth, and I have raised three children–one of them a vegetarian–so we’re well aware of the challenges of feeding a family whose members’ appetites and tastes vary.
Women are not only concerned about their own weight, but they also worry about their overweight spouses, partners and children. Is your partner overweight? Since just under 56 percent of Canadian men are either in that category or officially obese, there is a good chance that this is the case. (See the Body Mass Index on pages 34—35 to see if he qualifies.)
And you’ve probably been reading about the alarming increase in childhood obesity. According to recent studies, 37 percent of Canadian children between two and eleven years old are overweight. At the same time, you don’t want your children – especially your daughters – to become obsessed with weight loss and body image. What you do want is to establish healthy patterns of eating that keep your children fit and energetic, not only as they are growing up but for the rest of their lives. What you don’t want to do is cater to their every whim by cooking three different meals every night. You can’t really blame kids for their cravings. With so many processed, over-advertised, high-fat snack foods available, they are simply following the path of least resistance. We need to give them appealing options.
So I could see that a family approach to the G.I. Diet would be helpful, and the result is this book, The Family G.I. Diet. I persuaded my wife, Ruth, who is professor emeritus of the faculties of nursing and medicine at the University of Toronto, to provide a female perspective, as well as to share her experience in women’s health issues and behavioural research. She wrote chapter six, which outlines the special nutritional needs of women from menarche to menopause and beyond, and gave valuable information on feeding children at various stages of their life. Together we talk about how to follow the G.I. Diet along with spouses, partners, toddlers and teenagers. We give you help with shopping, meal planning and lunch packing, and have included fifty new delicious recipes that are G.I. versions of family favourites. We address the special needs of seniors, who are often neglected in other diet books, and help you use nutrition to reduce your family’s risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, most cancers and even degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s. The evidence from medical research is overwhelming that weight management and diet are the most effective ways to reduce your risk of these life-threatening diseases. So the G.I. Diet is not just about losing weight simply and painlessly; it’s also about a permanent gain in quality of life.
On the G.I. Diet, you won’t go hungry or feel deprived, and you will never have to count another calorie or carb. I’m a firm believer that a diet shouldn’t have to involve higher math! How is this possible? The keys are simplicity and nutritional balance. With its emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean meat and seafood, the G.I. Diet is an ideal way for the whole family to eat, whether weight control is an issue or not. And if you or your partner needs to shed five pounds or fifty, The Family G.I. Diet will show both of you how to eat more healthily and lose weight from the same menu.
For more information on the G.I. Diet, a free subscription to my quarterly newsletter and details about how to contact me with your comments and suggestions, please visit my website at www.gidiet.com. I would love to hear from you.
The G.I. Diet Program
Why Do You Want to Lose Weight?
Do you want to lose ten pounds or a hundred? Perhaps you just want to drop a dress size or two while you help your overweight partner lose a significant amount of weight. It’s important to look at the reasons why you or members of your family want to lose weight; your answer will have a lot to do with your motivation to start and, more important, to stay the course with your new way of eating.
Let’s look at the most common reasons why people want to lose weight and see how they reflect your own.
1. I want to look better.
Judging from the correspondence I have received – 20,000 emails and counting – the day when people discover that they have to dig out their “skinny” pants again is at least as rewarding as seeing the numbers fall on the scale. Most of us would rather shop for clothes that flatter and show off the body rather than resort to camouflage. It’s a powerful motivator to walk into a room and hear a friend ask, “Have you lost weight? You look terrific.” I’ve sold more books based on word of mouth – people asking G.I. Diet readers how they lost their weight – than through any other marketing strategy.
But losing weight is not just about trying to live up to unreachable, red-carpet standards of beauty or thinness; it’s about feeling at ease in your body and liking what you see in the mirror. Weight loss boosts self-esteem and confidence, which in turn makes it easier to maintain new eating habits. It’s amazing the difference the loss of just a few pounds can make, not only to how you look in your clothes but to how you feel about yourself.
2. I want to feel more energetic and less lethargic.
Perhaps what I hear about most frequently from readers, other than the thrill of losing pounds or going down a dress size, is the surge of energy that comes with a lighter, healthier body. I witnessed a dramatic demonstration of the kind of burden extra weight can be just the other day. My wife and I had just completed some house renovations to suit our empty-nest lifestyle, and as we were restoring some order, I asked Ruth to carry a couple of 20-pound dumbbells up a flight of stairs to my new workout room. She could only get them to the first floor landing before she had to put them down again. “How do people who are 40 pounds overweight get around, let alone climb stairs?” she wondered. And 40 pounds of extra weight is not something you can just put down when you want to. Imagine the energy that goes into carrying those pounds! That’s the energy that will be available to you again if you shed the excess weight.
Readers also tell me about the delight they experience when they find themselves able to do more exercise and to enjoy activities they haven’t participated in since their teens. If regaining your former energy and vitality is important to you, you’ll receive constant motivation as your new, lighter body rejoices in its recently acquired freedom to run, swim, play squash, or engage in any activity you may have given up for “lack of energy.”
3. I want to be healthier, and I want to help my family become healthier.
Although health may not be your primary reason for losing weight, it is ultimately the most important one. Excess weight and poor diet are by far the most critical factors in increasing your chances of developing major diseases that can either undermine your quality of life or drastically shorten it. These include heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Of course, genes play a role in your risk of these diseases too, but anyone who is overweight and undernourished is putting herself at increased risk for these conditions. The prospect of a long life, especially one free of pain, disability and disease, is a powerful motivator.
Keeping in mind these three incentives – looking and feeling better, enjoying greater energy and improving your overall health – will go a long way in helping you stick to the G.I. Diet and will open up a whole new chapter in your life. But if losing weight has so many obvious benefits, why is the prevalence of overweight and obesity steadily increasing, especially as hundreds of new diet books flood the stores each year? Well, the fact is that most diets don’t work. And the reason they fail is that people don’t stay on them. Why do they give up? I’m sure the following explanations will be familiar to you.
Why Diets Don’t Work
1.Most diets leave you feeling hungry, weak and deprived. You stagger through the day with a grumbling stomach, but sooner or later you cave and order a pizza with double cheese. Feeling perpetually hungry is the primary reason that people give up on their diet.
2.The diet is too complicated and time-consuming to follow. You spend each day weighing and measuring food, calculating carbs or calories and keeping food diaries. Perhaps this is fun initially, but then it all just becomes a burden. You’re too busy to follow a diet that feels more like a math exam.
3.You feel bad. Many diets cut out essential nutrients, leaving you feeling lethargic and concerned about your health. Is it little wonder people give up?
Why Have We Gotten So Fat?
Nearly 56 percent of Canadians are overweight, and our obesity rate has doubled over the past twenty years. The rate of increase in obesity in children is even worse. So what’s happening to us? Why, in a relatively short time, have we gained so much weight?
It’s not as if we lack awareness of weight issues. There are shelves of books and racks of magazines with cover stories on diets and fitness regimens. The media have latched onto the “obesity epidemic” with a fervour–fat is big news these days.
But the reason for our collective weight crisis is actually quite simple: we’re consuming more calories than we’re expending, and the resulting surplus is stored around our waists, hips and thighs as fat. (Maybe it’s found a nice spot on your upper arms, too.) There’s no mystery here. But to understand why we seem to be consuming more calories, we need to get back to basics and look at the three fundamental elements of our diet: carbohydrates, fats and proteins. I’m sure you’ve heard about these characters. We need to understand how they work together, whether we’re in the process of getting fat or thin, and the role they play in our digestive system.
We’ll start with carbohydrates, since the popularity of low-carbohydrate diets like the Atkins program has made them a hot topic and given them a bad rap. They’ve been so much in the news over the past few years that a new word has entered the language: “carbs.” Though they’ve been blamed for all our weight problems, their role in weight control has really been misunderstood.