With the onset of the entertaining season comes invitations to countless parties, and for those wanting to maintain healthy habits, it can be a stressful time. Thankfully, making healthy low GI choices (whether you are a host or attending a dinner party) will not dramatically change the grazing table or menu.
Just take it back to basics and remember, there’s no need to ditch the carbs. Focus on simply swapping high GI foods for low GI foods wherever possible. This will keep you feeling energised, fuller for longer and keep you on track with your health goals.
Try these tips for a tasty and enjoyable low GI celebration.
1. Get party planning
Something as simple as planning your menu ahead of time may seem like an obvious one, however almost 1 in 4 (23%) Aussies admit that they are not confident in preparing healthy meals.
If you’re the host, you get to control the menu and thankfully, there’s plenty of delicious recipes that are perfect for entertaining, whilst also being low GI. You can use our swap it tool to swap the foods you enjoy eating with low GI substitutes, and if you want recipes that are great for a crowd, check out our free entertaining e-cookbook. It’ll make healthy eating a breeze all entertaining season long.
2. Entertaining food to please a crowd
When serving your own low GI dishes it is important to aim for balance – remember, a healthy low GI meal will be half vegetables/salad, quarter lean protein and quarter low GI carbohydrates – you also want to focus on “swap, drop, add and reduce”:
Swap foods to low GI varieties
Drop fluffy white breads, baguettes and rolls, and larger servings of carbohydrates
Add beans, chickpeas and lentils to meals, lemon juice to veggies and yoghurt to a curry
Reduce the amount of starchy carbohydrate in your recipe
World renowned GI expert, Jennie Brand-Miller (or ‘GI Jennie’, as she is known) recommends bulking up salads with legumes like lentils, kidney beans and cannellini beans such as in this mushroom & chickpea salad. It’s not just healthier, but more cost effective too. Another hot tip is to add healthy fats and acids to your meals as it lowers the GI – think vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil or avocado, just like in this Green Bean, Snow Pea, Rice and Avocado Salad.
3. Navigating a grazing platter
Not hosting but heading out to a party? Don’t be afraid to talk to your host. Whether it’s a work function or celebration with friends, try to find out what’s on the menu or ask for ingredients in a meal. If the host is not able to accommodate your low GI food choices or you feel uncomfortable with the options, offer to help out or bring your own food.
Also look to make smarter snacking choices if it’s a big food platter on offer. There’s usually healthier choices – think veggie sticks, fresh or dried fruit, nuts, grainy breads or most dairy products, and you’ll typically want to avoid the complex carbs like white bread, rice cakes, most crackers and cakes. For more tips to keep healthy habits on track, click here.
4. Look out for the Low GI Symbol when doing your food shop
To avoid making impulsive decisions at the supermarket that can have a big impact and to help make healthy low GI choices quick and easy, look for foods carrying the GI Symbol. This guarantees that they have been reliably tested by a laboratory and meet a very strict nutrient criteria consistent with international dietary guidelines. You will find the GI value listed near the nutrition information panels if a low GI claim is made on the packaging.
You can find foods that carry the low GI symbol here or download our Low GI Shopping List and our Top 10 Low GI Pantry & Fridge Ideas and have them close by before a shop.
5. Understand your portions
Festive gatherings are often seen as an opportunity for over-indulgence. Sometimes maintaining healthy goals is as simple as understanding portion sizes. You can still enjoy the occasional treat, just try and stick to the right snacking and main meal portion sizes.
6. Low GI sweet treats
Going low GI doesn’t mean cutting out sugar. A healthy diet can include a little sugar, even for those living with diabetes. Rather than avoiding sugar all together, limit foods with an abundance of added sugar and little nutritional value such as confectionery, cakes, biscuits and soft drinks as these types of foods not only affect blood glucose control, they are also likely to affect weight and dental health too. At your next soiree, try desserts such as this delicious scone recipe – Strawberry Ricotta Scone Cakes, perfect for prepping and popping in the fridge before entertaining, these delicious and super simple Pistachio and raspberry muffins, or Filo Fruit Cups which you can have ready and on the table in just 35 minutes.
With a little bit of planning and our 6 tips for easy low GI entertaining, you can feel confident hosting a successful soiree without feeling stressed or like you are missing out! Loved this? You might like our Tips to Keep Healthy Habits on Track.