What is food pairing?

What is GD food pairing?

GD food pairing
peanut butter pairs the carbs from the bread

One of the most common questions we’re asked is what is GD food pairing? My hospital or dietician didn’t mention anything to me about pairing foods. Well, the majority won’t as it’s not typical NHS dietary advice and so even if you ask them they may not be able to help or advise.

By pairing we simply mean putting two things together when eating, pairing them up. For the sake of the GD diet, we are referring to pairing good natural fats and protein with carbs.

carbs = high blood sugar levels
carbs + fat + protein = lower blood sugar levels


#GDFoodPairing #FoodPairing #NeverEatANakedCarb #RealFoodRocks

How do I pair foods?

Basically, our motto is “never eat a naked carb”gestational diabetes diet snack

90-100% of carbohydrates covert into glucose in your bloodstream and so carbs are the thing that raise blood sugar levels. If you are unsure of what foods are carbs then take a look at our post, confused about carbs.

To help slow down the release of these sugars into the bloodstream, add some protein and good natural fats to help stop the fast excessive peak in blood glucose.This is because the presence of fat will slow the rate of gastric emptying. This will mean you will be able to eat carbs more safely without spiking blood sugar levels.

This could be as simple as instead of eating a slice of wholemeal toast with butter, adding egg, cheese, meat, fish, avocado or peanut butter – all these things help ‘pair’ the carbs in the toast making it more tolerable. The more heavily you pair the carbs the more likely you will achieve a better reading.

Macronutrients impact on blood glucose


Good foods to use for pairing with carbs

  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Seeds
  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Olives
  • Full fat cheese
  • Full fat yoghurt
  • Soya products
  • Oily fish
  • Meat & poultry including crispy skin and fat like pork crackling
  • Full fat REAL Cream
  • Butter
  • Full fat mayonnaise
  • Tofu
  • Quorn
  • Eggs


Do I have to eat paired foods at exactly the same time?

Eating paired foods works well when incorporating pairing into meals, but can be a bit more tricky when eating a snack, after all some people may not like certain foods and the thought of eating a square of chocolate with a lump of cheese or a mackerel may not be to everyone’s taste! It’s up to you which foods you use to pair, they do not need to be eaten in the same mouthful but for the foods to help pair each other then they need to be eaten at least one after another – you need the fat and protein from one food to help the carbs from the other and so eating the carbs waiting half an hour then eating the fat and protein will not work so well at slowing down the release of glucose from the carbs.


Is there a carbs to fat or protein ratio I can follow?

Sadly no. Because we all tolerate different forms of carbs in different ways, it’s not as easy as saying ‘x’ amount of carbs needs ‘y’ amount of protein or fat to cancel it out. Certain carbs will not pair well for you, as your body simply does not tolerate that type of carb well e.g. one person may be able to use plenty of butter and cheese on potatoes to make them more tolerable, whereas potatoes may be your GD kryptonite that you simply need to avoid, using other forms of carbs instead.

The best method is to start with sensible sized portion of carbs as detailed on our main dietary page and don’t be shy with the natural fat and protein. Once you’ve started testing and monitoring your blood sugar levels you will start to build up a picture of which carbs works better for you and how much fat and protein you’ll need to achieve best results.


Does food pairing mean I won’t need meds or insulin?

Whilst food pairing can really help diet control in all diabetics, it will not be enough for those with higher insulin resistance, however food pairing works well alongside meds and insulin where needed and can keep doses minimal compared to following typical GD dietary advice. For more information on the diet we advocate which includes our 8 Golden Rules (one of which is pairing foods) then please take a look at our main dietary page and example meal plan.


Can I pair everything to make it tolerable?

just because a Snickers has nuts does not make it paired well – there’s just too much sugar, you can add more nuts but it will still be very difficult to tolerate – make sensible informed choices!

Pairing carbs will always help but some foods are just too high in carbs to be safely paired. Pairing is best used for good slow release unrefined carbs, not highly refined carbs which are pure sugar, the science works to a point but it isn’t magic sadly!


Paired recipes based on our food pairing principles and 8 Golden Rules

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