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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tip: Eat Starches in Moderation

I’m excited. The weight is dropping off, and my neck, knees, and are all feeling better every day. I know I am doing the right thing for my health. The photo at the left was taken in 2006 at Christmastime. Some of that fat chin is already going away.
Yesterday I ate a small container of yogurt for breakfast, a big salad for lunch, and a piece of pork steak, spinach sautéed with fresh basil, and a sautéed yellow squash for dinner. I didn’t have the urge to eat any midday snack, as I often do, and I felt satisfied in my tummy and mind, all day.

My food plan is something I created from information I gleaned in one meeting with a nutritionist and the booklet she gave me from the American Diabetes Association that explains exchange lists. Exchange lists, the booklet explains, are foods listed together because they are alike. Each serving of a food in the list has about he same amount of carbohydrate, protein, fat, and calories as the other foods on that particular list, so the foods can be exchanged with one another. It gives as an example that a slice of bread can be traded for one-half a cup of cooked cereal, because each of the foods equals one starch. The whole concept got too complicated for me, though, so I created my own plan, once I read about starches and that the body quickly turned them into sugar in the body. Too much sugar in the body not only creates havoc for diabetics, but it also doesn’t bode well for people who want to lose weight, because the body stores the extra sugar as fat.

I became aware of the foods that turned too easily into sugar in my body, and I decided to moderate my intake of starchy vegetables, such as beans, corn, peas, plantains, and potatoes. Notice I did not say I would deprive myself of these tasty treats, because if I tell myself I can’t eat something, I start to crave the very item I have denied myself. Instead I learned how to portion out my meals and learned I can eat anything I want, but in moderation. I like to eat, so I learned to choose foods I could eat more of, and still be within the same exchange rate of other foods. For example, a slightly larger portion of sweet potatoes or yams (one-half a cup) equates to a smaller serving of white potatoes (three ounces), so if I feel like eating a potato, I choose sweet potatoes, rather than white potatoes. To make matters even better, a half a cup of sweet potatoes is a large serving, in my opinion, so I can eat even less and be satisfied.

Other starchy foods I limit include breads and crackers, chips, lentils, and even miso soup. Would you believe that sipping only three savory tablespoons of miso soup is equal to consuming half a cup of sweet potatoes? Knowing the difference in portion size, which would I rather eat? The sweet potatoes, of course.

Starches abound in popcorn, noodles, waffles, pancakes, oatmeal, rice, grits, croutons, and most granola, too, but I’ve learned tips such as the fact that I can eat three cups of popcorn, and it equates to eating only six croutons, so you bet I’m going for the popcorn, instead.

Starches provide B vitamins, and many starchy foods also contain fiber and protein, all of which is good for me, so I’m not saying people who want to lose weight should never eat starch. Instead of depriving myself, I keep portion size and moderation in mind, and together they make all the difference. Yesterday I consumed starches only at lunchtime. I ate one small cracker with my salad, plus the salad contained peas. I had also added almonds and sunflower seeds, which contain fats, but nuts in moderation also are good for me.

If you’re interested in learning more about exchange lists, contact the American Diabetes Association or the American Dietetic Association or go to or

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