Grapes, Glycemic Index and the Weight Loss Surgery Diet

Weight loss surgery patients are learning that including low glycemic fruits and vegetables in their high protein diet is an effective way to introduce nutrients and flavor to meals without the negative consequences associated with other high carbohydrate foods. Understanding the GI (Glycemic Index) is the first step to adding nutrients, variety and flavor from vegetables and fruit to the sometimes restrictive diet associated with bariatric surgery including gastric bypass, gastric lap-band, and gastric-sleeve.

One concern of weight loss patients is that a very small amount of high sugar (high glycemic) fruit or vegetable eaten without protein or fat can cause those with malabsorptive issues immediate glucose response sometimes called dumping syndrome or rapid gastric emptying. Grapes are a good example of a so called “healthy” fruit that may cause problems for patients of weight loss surgery. Grapes have a GI value of 53 ranking them a “LOW” GI Value. That means they have low impact on glucose levels. One cup is considered a serving size. At first glance this would make them a suitable fruit for patients of gastric surgery, but front line research tells us a different story: grapes are beautiful fruit of the Gods just waiting to slip down into our little pouches and morph from healthy fruit snack to spiteful little slider food and dumping disaster.

Here is what happens: We rightly believe grapes are good for us and low calorie, so we do not measure portion size. We enjoy each grape, one by one, which is mostly water and fructose, in unmeasured portion as a snack, so there is no buffer to slow the absorption of fructose through the esophagus or intestinal walls of the pouch. We can eat a copious amount of grapes because as fast as we are enjoying them they are sliding right through the stoma. Even with the surgical stomach pouch when eating grapes we never achieve fullness. Unaware of the dramatic glucose load this puts on our body we continue to enjoy our healthy snack when all at once the slam hits us and we are in glucose overload distress: dumping. This can happen with any gastric surgery patient who follows a lean protein diet and has developed a low tolerance for glucose surging.

So the short answer, though low glycemic, grapes are a fruit to enjoy with measured caution. As a snack I suggest controlled portions, no more than one cup in a single serving. Make your grape snack a mini-meal and include a one ounce serving of lean meat and one ounce serving of low fat cheese.

Consider grapes as “ingredient” food, not just a snack. Here is a classic Southern Style Chicken Salad that makes wonderful use of grapes in the main dish. The high protein count in the recipe will prevent a glucose overload from the grapes.

Classic Southern Chicken Salad

Dressing:

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup Miracle Whip Light

1 teaspoon no-sodium seasoning blend

Salt & Pepper to Taste

Salad:

2 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped and chilled

1 cup celery, chopped

1 cup green seedless grape, sliced

1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Bibb Lettuce, leaves separated into six cups – one per serving

For Dressing: In a medium bowl using a whisk whip the whipping cream until fluff. Fold in Miracle Whip Light, seasoning blend and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a large bowl toss together cooked chopped chicken, chopped celery and sliced grapes. Add dressing and fold together gently until combined. Chill until serving, may be prepared to this stage one day ahead. When ready to serve divide chicken mixture evenly among lettuce cups, garnish with toasted sliced almonds and chopped fresh parsley. Serve chilled.

Serves 6. Per serving: 363 Calories; 27g Protein; 24g Fat (5g saturated);11g Carbohydrate; 2g Fiber; Rich in Vitamin B12 & Niacin.

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