The GI Diet Guide


Rick Gallop on His Personal Health and Life

In May 2008 Tim Wiffen interviewed Rick Gallop for the GI diet guide website. Continued from: Rick Gallop on Emotional Eating

Have you ever been overweight yourself?

Yes, in fact one of the things that triggered this whole thing off; was that back in 2000 I was running the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Suddenly found I stopped jogging because I had a back injury and I put on 20 odd pounds about a stone and a half roughly. To my horror I also put on 4 inches around my waist. I thought we can't have tubby Gallop here telling people to lose weight, because it's a risk to heart disease. So I thought I better start walking the talk. I didn't think it was such a big deal. I've got to lose 20 odd pounds. It's no big deal. I'll just get onto it. A year later, after a huge amount of frustration trying every diet under the sun, including Atkins, I found it's a very difficult thing to do. Actually loosing it was not so much of the problem it was keeping it off that was the problem.

I guess it was during that adventure that I came across the glycemic index, mainly because we were funding Dr. David Jenkins, which as you probably know [was the man who] invented the index. He was one of our researchers at the Foundation because we'd found out that the correlation between diabetes and heart disease was a very close one. We'd had more people die from heart correlated issues than from diabetes itself. We were trying to research into this whole area and that's how I met Jenkins who was working on this. He said essentially the weight loss was a by-product of what we were trying to do, we were trying to stabilize blood sugar levels and found at the same time that people were losing weight; which of course is a second reason people were diabetics. I thought this is interesting, let's look at the second component of this, the losing weight, and that really became the reason I got into this whole area. So I tried it out.

The interesting thing was that initially I didn't have much success because it was still another diet in terms of having to count calories, all these sorts of things. It wasn't really until I clued onto the fact that we've got to simplify this and brought in the color coding system, the traffic light coding system, [that things fell in place]. It made some sense suddenly we were doing the math for them. People didn't have to worry about GI ratings or GL ratings or calories or anything else it was [simply] follow the traffic lights and this will essentially look after itself. I think that was the big break thought idea from the standpoint of a marketing idea and when people cottoned onto that it all became relatively simple. I think that was the turning of the corner, certainly it terms of trying to get the formula right in terms of my research and that was the magic bullet that made the major difference.

Who prepares most of the meals in your house?

My wife.

Does your wife consult your books when she's cooking?

Oh yeah. We've been living this diet since we started because we've obviously collected a lot of recipes, now we've got five hundred recipes out there in various books. But we enjoy it too, it's not a hardship it's just the way we are and we have a huge number of recipes to keep trying so it's a big incentive for us to eat that way. And the kids do too. We have grown up kids now but when they come round and reach for the fridge, because they're teenagers at heart, they just love their veggies and dip. It's amazing, not oven chips or other things that you would expect of young men in their case. So it can be something that the rest of the family can learn if that is all that is available to them, after a while it becomes their choice.

What's on the menu tonight?

I don't honestly know. I haven't asked. We are going to the opera tonight, so that's usually a fairly short meal as we have to get down town by 7:30 to get to the show so my guess is it will probably be pasta of some sort.

Do you have particular favorite recipes that you cook regularly?

I used not to eat much fish. I was probably a classic Brit in my upbringing. Other than fish and chips we rarely had fish at home. It was never a favorite food of mine, but for my wife it was, so it became more so. We've made it a real feature and we probably have fish a couple of times a week. I've really come to like fish. You can get to a point where money can be an issue as fish is more expensive but some of the farmed fish is much more reasonable now.

Do you worry about the mercury content of fish?

Not especially in salmon, no, but in tuna, yes. Most of the farmed salmon I think is fairly mercury free. But certainly tuna is an issue and that is why we caution our readers on this. We say about tuna the larger the tuna the worst it is, as it's further up the predator chain. So that's the one I think we need to be careful of.

What's next for Rick Gallop?

I am now looking at some of the triggers for why people are putting on weight, menopause obviously being one of them because of the huge hormonal shift that takes place. I think I'll increasingly be looking at these subsets of people's situations. Take the basic GI diet and see if we and adapt this, not the principles, but maybe some of the approaches for people who have particular situations. People who have diabetes are a key candidate for this. So this is what I've been doing is running some of these e-clinics to get closer to my audience. Get some kind of sense of what it is that the issue is and then follow this up with some form of publication. And try to marry the two works, your world [the web] and my printed world. That's why we added 9 months to the 13 week clinic using your world, the web world and extending the book for 9 months, so people have a chance to continue on a monthly basis; at least to try and keep them on a twelve month program. Because if you can get them through the twelve months, chances are you've got someone who can stay with this for the rest of their life. After thirteen weeks it's tough to tell. It puts them in the right direction but without any further advice or ongoing support people can drift off, for reasons that you and I know. So I'm curious to know how we can further marry the printed and electronic word and make them work together rather than using different mediums. So the clinic was the first attempt to do this, it was taking the e-clinic experience, making the book and then extending that experience by offering an electronic extension. It was my attempt to bridge these two solitudes.

Rick Gallop's book is available from all good book stores, or click here to find it online.
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