List of starchy foods

How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off

There’s a better way to lose weight. These dieting tips can help you avoid diet pitfalls and achieve lasting weight-loss success.

Pick up any diet book and it will claim to hold all the answers to successfully losing all the weight you want—and keeping it off. Some claim the key is to eat less and exercise more, others that low fat is the only way to go, while others prescribe cutting out carbs. So, what should you believe?

The truth is there is no “one size fits all” solution to permanent healthy weight loss. What works for one person may not work for you, since our bodies respond differently to different foods, depending on genetics and other health factors. To find the method of weight loss that’s right for you will likely take time and require patience, commitment, and some experimentation with different foods and diets.

While some people respond well to counting calories or similar restrictive methods, others respond better to having more freedom in planning their weight-loss programs. Being free to simply avoid fried foods or cut back on refined carbs can set them up for success. So, don’t get too discouraged if a diet that worked for somebody else doesn’t work for you. And don’t beat yourself up if a diet proves too restrictive for you to stick with. Ultimately, a diet is only right for you if it’s one you can stick with over time.

Remember: while there’s no easy fix to losing weight, there are plenty of steps you can take to develop a healthier relationship with food, curb emotional triggers to overeating, and achieve a healthy weight.

Four popular weight loss strategies

1. Cut calories

Some experts believe that successfully managing your weight comes down to a simple equation: If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight. Sounds easy, right? Then why is losing weight so hard?

  • Weight loss isn’t a linear event over time. When you cut calories, you may drop weight for the first few weeks, for example, and then something changes. You eat the same number of calories but you lose less weight or no weight at all. That’s because when you lose weight you’re losing water and lean tissue as well as fat, your metabolism slows, and your body changes in other ways. So, in order to continue dropping weight each week, you need to continue cutting calories.
  • A calorie isn’t always a calorie. Eating 100 calories of high fructose corn syrup, for example, can have a different effect on your body than eating 100 calories of broccoli. The trick for sustained weight loss is to ditch the foods that are packed with calories but don’t make you feel full (like candy) and replace them with foods that fill you up without being loaded with calories (like vegetables).
  • Many of us don’t always eat simply to satisfy hunger. We also turn to food for comfort or to relieve stress—which can quickly derail any weight loss plan.

2. Cut carbs

A different way of viewing weight loss identifies the problem as not one of consuming too many calories, but rather the way the body accumulates fat after consuming carbohydrates—in particular the role of the hormone insulin. When you eat a meal, carbohydrates from the food enter your bloodstream as glucose. In order to keep your blood sugar levels in check, your body always burns off this glucose before it burns off fat from a meal.

If you eat a carbohydrate-rich meal (lots of pasta, rice, bread, or French fries, for example), your body releases insulin to help with the influx of all this glucose into your blood. As well as regulating blood sugar levels, insulin does two things: It prevents your fat cells from releasing fat for the body to burn as fuel (because its priority is to burn off the glucose) and it creates more fat cells for storing everything that your body can’t burn off. The result is that you gain weight and your body now requires more fuel to burn, so you eat more. Since insulin only burns carbohydrates, you crave carbs and so begins a vicious cycle of consuming carbs and gaining weight. To lose weight, the reasoning goes, you need to break this cycle by reducing carbs.

Most low-carb diets advocate replacing carbs with protein and fat, which could have some negative long-term effects on your health. If you do try a low-carb diet, you can reduce your risks and limit your intake of saturated and trans fats by choosing lean meats, fish and vegetarian sources of protein, low-fat dairy products, and eating plenty of leafy green and non-starchy vegetables.

3. Cut fat

It’s a mainstay of many diets: if you don’t want to get fat, don’t eat fat. Walk down any grocery store aisle and you’ll be bombarded with reduced-fat snacks, dairy, and packaged meals. But while our low-fat options have exploded, so have obesity rates. So, why haven’t low-fat diets worked for more of us?

  1. Not all fat is bad. Healthy or “good” fats can actually help to control your weight, as well as manage your moods and fight fatigue. Unsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts, seeds, soy milk, tofu, and fatty fish can help fill you up, while adding a little tasty olive oil to a plate of vegetables, for example, can make it easier to eat healthy food and improve the overall quality of your diet.
  2. We often make the wrong trade-offs. Many of us make the mistake of swapping fat for the empty calories of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Instead of eating whole-fat yoghurt, for example, we eat low- or no-fat versions that are packed with sugar to make up for the loss of taste. Or we swap our fatty breakfast bacon for a muffin or donut that causes rapid spikes in blood sugar.

4. Follow the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating good fats and good carbs along with large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish, and olive oil—and only modest amounts of meat and cheese. The Mediterranean diet is more than just about food, though. Regular physical activity and sharing meals with others are also major components.

Whatever weight loss strategy you try, it’s important to stay motivated and avoid common dieting pitfalls, such as emotional eating.

Control emotional eating

We don’t always eat simply to satisfy hunger. All too often, we turn to food when we’re stressed or anxious, which can wreck any diet and pack on the pounds. Do you eat when you’re worried, bored, or lonely? Do you snack in front of the TV at the end of a stressful day? Recognizing your emotional eating triggers can make all the difference in your weight-loss efforts. If you eat when you’re:

Stressed – find healthier ways to calm yourself. Try yoga, meditation, or soaking in a hot bath.

Low on energy – find other mid-afternoon pick-me-ups. Try walking around the block, listening to energizing music, or taking a short nap.

Lonely or bored – reach out to others instead of reaching for the refrigerator. Call a friend who makes you laugh, take your dog for a walk, or go to the library, mall, or park—anywhere there’s people.

Practice mindful eating instead

Avoid distractions while eating. Try not to eat while working, watching TV, or driving. It’s too easy to mindlessly overeat.

Pay attention. Eat slowly, savoring the smells and textures of your food. If your mind wanders, gently return your attention to your food and how it tastes.

Mix things up to focus on the experience of eating. Try using chopsticks rather than a fork, or use your utensils with your non-dominant hand.

Stop eating before you are full. It takes time for the signal to reach your brain that you’ve had enough. Don’t feel obligated to always clean your plate.

Stay motivated

Permanent weight loss requires making healthy changes to your lifestyle and food choices. To stay motivated:

Find a cheering section. Social support means a lot. Programs like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers use group support to impact weight loss and lifelong healthy eating. Seek out support—whether in the form of family, friends, or a support group—to get the encouragement you need.

Slow and steady wins the race. Losing weight too fast can take a toll on your mind and body, making you feel sluggish, drained, and sick. Aim to lose one to two pounds a week so you’re losing fat rather than water and muscle.

Set goals to keep you motivated. Short-term goals, like wanting to fit into a bikini for the summer, usually don’t work as well as wanting to feel more confident or become healthier for your children’s sakes. When temptation strikes, focus on the benefits you’ll reap from being healthier.

Use tools to track your progress. Smartphone apps, fitness trackers, or simply keeping a journal can help you keep track of the food you eat, the calories you burn, and the weight you lose. Seeing the results in black and white can help you stay motivated.

Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep stimulates your appetite so you want more food than normal; at the same time, it stops you feeling satisfied, making you want to keep eating. Sleep deprivation can also affect your motivation, so aim for eight hours of quality sleep a night.

Cut down on sugar and refined carbs

Whether or not you’re specifically aiming to cut carbs, most of us consume unhealthy amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, and sweetened breakfast cereals. Replacing refined carbs with their whole-grain counterparts and eliminating candy and desserts is only part of the solution, though. Sugar is hidden in foods as diverse as canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, and many reduced fat foods. Since your body gets all it needs from sugar naturally occurring in food, all this added sugar amounts to nothing but a lot of empty calories and unhealthy spikes in your blood glucose.

Less sugar can mean a slimmer waistline

Calories obtained from fructose (found in sugary beverages such as soda and processed foods like doughnuts, muffins, and candy) are more likely to add to fat around your belly. Cutting back on sugary foods can mean a slimmer waistline as well as a lower risk of diabetes.

Fill up with fruit, veggies, and fiber

Even if you’re cutting calories, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to eat less food. High-fiber foods such as fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains are higher in volume and take longer to digest, making them filling—and great for weight-loss.

It’s generally okay to eat as much fresh fruit and non-starchy vegetables as you want—you’ll feel full before you’ve overdone it on the calories.

Eat vegetables raw or steamed, not fried or breaded, and dress them with herbs and spices or a little olive oil for flavor.

Add fruit to low sugar cereal—blueberries, strawberries, sliced bananas. You’ll still enjoy lots of sweetness, but with fewer calories, less sugar, and more fiber.

Bulk out sandwiches by adding healthy veggie choices like lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, cucumbers, and avocado.

Snack on carrots or celery with hummus instead of a high-calorie chips and dip.

Add more veggies to your favorite main courses to make your dish more substantial. Even pasta and stir-fries can be diet-friendly if you use less noodles and more vegetables.

Start your meal with salad or vegetable soup to help fill you up so you eat less of your entrée.

Take charge of your food environment

Set yourself up for weight-loss success by taking charge of your food environment: when you eat, how much you eat, and what foods you make easily available.

Cook your own meals at home. This allows you to control both portion size and what goes in to the food. Restaurant and packaged foods generally contain a lot more sugar, unhealthy fat, and calories than food cooked at home—plus the portion sizes tend to be larger.

Serve yourself smaller portions. Use small plates, bowls, and cups to make your portions appear larger. Don’t eat out of large bowls or directly from food containers, which makes it difficult to assess how much you’ve eaten.

Eat early. Studies suggest that consuming more of your daily calories at breakfast and fewer at dinner can help you drop more pounds. Eating a larger, healthy breakfast can jump start your metabolism, stop you feeling hungry during the day, and give you more time to burn off the calories.

Fast for 14 hours a day. Try to eat dinner earlier in the day and then fast until breakfast the next morning. Eating only when you’re most active and giving your digestion a long break may aid weight loss.

Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time. You can create your own small portion snacks in plastic bags or containers. Eating on a schedule will help you avoid eating when you aren’t truly hungry.

Drink more water. Thirst can often be confused with hunger, so by drinking water you can avoid extra calories.

Limit the amount of tempting foods you have at home. If you share a kitchen with non-dieters, store indulgent foods out of sight.

Get moving

The degree to which exercise aids weight loss is open to debate, but the benefits go way beyond burning calories. Exercise can increase your metabolism and improve your outlook—and it’s something you can benefit from right now. Go for a walk, stretch, move around and you’ll have more energy and motivation to tackle the other steps in your weight-loss program.

Lack time for a long workout? Three 10-minute spurts of exercise per day can be just as good as one 30-minute workout.

Remember: anything is better than nothing. Start off slowly with small amounts of physical activity each day. Then, as you start to lose weight and have more energy, you’ll find it easier to become more physically active.

Find exercise you enjoy. Try walking with a friend, dancing, hiking, cycling, playing Frisbee with a dog, enjoying a pickup game of basketball, or playing activity-based video games with your kids.

Keeping the Weight Off

You may have heard the widely quoted statistic that 95% of people who lose weight on a diet will regain it within a few years—or even months. While there isn’t much hard evidence to support that claim, it is true that many weight-loss plans fail in the long term. Often that’s simply because diets that are too restrictive are very hard to maintain over time. However, that doesn’t mean your weight loss attempts are doomed to failure. Far from it.

Since it was established in 1994, The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) in the United States, has tracked over 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time. The study has found that participants who’ve been successful in maintaining their weight loss share some common strategies. Whatever diet you use to lose weight in the first place, adopting these habits may help you to keep it off:

  • Stay physically active. Successful dieters in the NWCR study exercise for about 60 minutes, typically walking.
  • Keep a food log. Recording what you eat every day helps to keep you accountable and motivated.
  • Eat breakfast every day. Most commonly in the study, it’s cereal and fruit. Eating breakfast boosts metabolism and staves off hunger later in the day.
  • Eat more fiber and less unhealthy fat than the typical American diet.
  • Regularly check the scale. Weighing yourself weekly may help you to detect any small gains in weight, enabling you to promptly take corrective action before the problem escalates.
  • Watch less television. Cutting back on the time spent sitting in front of a screen can be a key part of adopting a more active lifestyle and preventing weight gain.

Your Weight-Loss Solution: Avoid White Starchy Foods

If you’re about to eat a starch, consider its color. Many white starchy foods such as pasta, white bread and rice, and potatoes contain refined starches and have a higher glycemic index rating than brown starches.

High-glycemic-index foods will cause higher peaks in blood sugar and can wreak havoc on your insulin regulation. This is why diabetics are generally instructed to avoid these foods.
In contrast to their lighter-looking counterparts, brown starches such as those in whole-grain breads and brown rice are associated with weight loss.
Interestingly, white starches are particularly associated with belly fat – a feature of metabolic syndrome and correlated with heart disease. Buy brown starches for home cooking and avoid white starches in restaurants. Many restaurants will now prepare brown rice in place of white rice at your request.
Remember to look for “whole-wheat flour” or “whole-grain flour” as the first ingredient in breads and other baked goods. “Wheat flour” and “enriched, unbleached flour” could sneak white flour into the recipe without your knowing it.

Starchy foods and carbohydrates


Eat well

Types of starchy foods

Nutrition information, presentation and storage advice for common starchy foods.

Potatoes

Potatoes are a great choice of starchy food and a good source of energy, fibre, B vitamins and potassium.

In the UK, we also get a lot of our vitamin C from potatoes – although they only contain vitamin C in small amounts, we generally eat a lot of them. They’re good value for money and can be a healthy choice.

Although potatoes are vegetables, in the UK we mostly eat them as the starchy food part of a meal, and they’re a good source of carbohydrate in our diets.

Because of this, potatoes don’t count towards your five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, but they can play an important role in your diet.

Potatoes are a healthy choice when boiled, baked, mashed or roasted with only a small amount of fat or oil and no added salt.

French fries and other chips cooked in oil or served with salt are not a healthy choice.

When cooking or serving potatoes, try to go for lower-fat (polyunsaturated) spreads or small amounts of unsaturated oils, such as olive or sunflower oil, instead of butter.

In mashed potato, use lower-fat milk – such as semi-skimmed, 1% fat or skimmed milk – instead of whole milk or cream.

Leave potato skins on where possible to keep in more of the fibre and vitamins. For example, eat the skin when you’re having boiled potatoes or a baked potato.

If you’re boiling potatoes, some nutrients will leak out into the water, especially if you’ve peeled them. To stop this happening, only use enough water to cover them and cook them only for as long as they need.

Storing potatoes in a cool, dark and dry place will help stop them sprouting. Don’t eat any green, damaged or sprouting bits of potatoes as these can contain toxins that can be harmful.

Bread

Bread – especially wholemeal, granary, brown and seeded varieties – is a healthy choice to eat as part of a balanced diet.

Wholegrain, wholemeal and brown breads give us energy and contain B vitamins, vitamin E, fibre and a wide range of minerals.

White bread also contains a range of vitamins and minerals, but it has less fibre than wholegrain, wholemeal or brown breads. If you prefer white bread, look for higher-fibre options.

Some people avoid bread because they’re concerned that they’re allergic to wheat, or they think bread is fattening.

However, cutting out any type of food altogether might mean you miss out on a whole range of nutrients people need to stay healthy.

If you’re concerned that you have a wheat allergy or intolerance, speak to your GP.

Bread can be stored at room temperature. Follow the “best before” date to make sure you eat it fresh.

Cereal products

Cereal products are made from grains. Wholegrain cereals can contribute to our daily intake of iron, fibre, B vitamins and protein. Higher-fibre options can also provide a slow release of energy.

Wheat, oats, barley, rye and rice are commonly available cereals that can be eaten as wholegrains.

This means cereal products consisting of oats and oatmeal, like porridge, and wholewheat products are healthy breakfast options.

Barley, couscous, corn and tapioca also count as healthy cereal products.

Many cereal products in the UK are refined, with low wholegrain content. They can also be high in added salt and sugar.

When you’re shopping for cereals, check the food labels to compare different products.

For more advice, read about healthy breakfast cereals.

Rice and grains

Rice and grains are an excellent choice of starchy food. They give us energy, are low in fat, and good value for money.

There are many types to choose from, including:

  • all kinds of rice – such as quick-cook, arborio, basmati, long grain, brown, short grain and wild
  • couscous
  • bulgur wheat

As well as carbohydrates, rice and grains (particularly brown and wholegrain versions) can contain:

  • fibre – which can help the body get rid of waste products
  • B vitamins – which help release energy from the food we eat and help the body work properly

Rice and grains, such as couscous and bulgur wheat, can be eaten hot or cold and in salads.

There are a few precautions you should take when storing and reheating cooked rice and grains. This is because the spores of some food poisoning bugs can survive cooking.

If cooked rice or grains are left standing at room temperature, the spores can germinate. The bacteria multiply and produce toxins that can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Reheating food won’t get rid of the toxins.

It’s therefore best to serve rice and grains when they’ve just been cooked. If this isn’t possible, cool them within an hour after cooking and keep them refrigerated until reheating or using in a cold dish.

It’s important to throw away any rice and grains that have been left at room temperature overnight.

If you aren’t going to eat rice immediately, refrigerate it within one hour and eat within 24 hours.

Rice should be reheated thoroughly, reaching a core temperature of 70C for two minutes (or equivalent) so it’s steaming hot throughout.

Rice shouldn’t be reheated more than once – it should be discarded. Don’t reheat rice unless it’s been chilled down safely and kept in the fridge until you reheat it.

Follow the “use by” date and storage instructions on the label for any cold rice or grain salads that you buy.

Pasta in your diet

Pasta is another healthy option to base your meal on. It consists of dough made from durum wheat and water, and contains iron and B vitamins.

Wholewheat or wholegrain are healthier alternatives to ordinary pasta, as they contain more fibre. We digest wholegrain foods more slowly, so they can help us feel full for longer.

Dried pasta can be stored in a cupboard and typically has a long shelf life, while fresh pasta will need to be refrigerated and has a shorter lifespan.

Check the food packaging for “best before” or “use by” dates and further storage instructions.

Which starches are beneficial? Which should I avoid?

Expert answer

Hi Mary. Your question is a good one as lots of people are confused about carbohydrates, especially starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, and how to incorporate them into a healthy diet.

Starch is a type of carbohydrate, also referred to as a complex carbohydrate since it is made up of long chains of sugar molecules.

Starchy foods include peas, corn, potatoes, beans, pasta, rice and grains. Starches are a more concentrated source of carbohydrates and calories than fruits, nonstarchy vegetables and dairy, but many of them are excellent sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. They are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet when chosen correctly and consumed in reasonable portions.

Potatoes do have a higher glycemic index, which means that they raise blood sugar more quickly than other vegetables, but they are also an excellent source of potassium, which is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure, and the skin of a baked potato is a very good source of fiber. So as long as you skip the high-fat toppings such as butter, bacon bits and sour cream, including a baked potato in your diet on occasion is fine.

Beans are one of the healthiest starch options, as they are very good sources of fiber, contain healthy plant-based protein and are packed with nutrients and anti-oxidants. Whole grains such as oatmeal and barley are also top choices because of their ability to help lower cholesterol as part of an overall heart-healthy diet.

The starches that I would highly recommend limiting are refined starches. These are grains that have been processed so that the nutrient and fiber-rich parts are removed (the two outer layers) and only the starchy interior remains.

Even if some of the nutrients are added back to these foods, they are not as healthy as whole grains and should be minimized if your goal is optimal health. According to the American Diabetes Association , the best way to identify healthy grains is to look at the ingredient list and make sure the first ingredient in starchy foods is whole wheat flour, brown rice, rye flour, barley or oats.

If you are interested in learning more about whole grains and labels, check out the nonprofit site Whole Grains Council. To learn more about the glycemic index of foods, visit www.glycemicindex.com.

What is resistant starch?

In the body, resistant starch acts very similarly to some types of fiber. These starches pass through the small intestine without undergoing digestion, allowing them to feed the bacteria in the colon.

As digestive bacteria play a crucial role in overall health, it is important to find ways to feed and keep them healthy.

Improved digestive and colon health

When resistant starches arrive in the colon, they feed healthy bacteria, which turn these starches into a few different short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids include butyrate, which is an important component for the cells of the colon.

Butyrate reduces the levels of inflammation in the colon. In doing this, it can help protect against issues relating to the digestive system, such as ulcerative colitis and inflammatory colorectal cancer.

In theory, butyrate may also help with other inflammatory issues in the bowel, such as:

  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • Crohn’s disease
  • diverticulitis

While these potential benefits are promising, most of the research to date has involved animals rather than humans. High quality human studies are necessary to help support these claims.

Improved insulin sensitivity

Eating resistant starch may help improve insulin sensitivity in some people. This possible benefit is very important because lower insulin sensitivity may play a role in several disorders, including obesity, diabetes, and even heart disease.

One study found that men with overweight or obesity who ate 15–30 grams (g) of resistant starch each day had increased insulin sensitivity compared with men who did not eat these starches.

However, the female participants did not experience these effects. The authors call for more research to determine the reason for this difference.

Feeling more full

Eating more resistant starch may also help people feel full. A 2017 study found that eating 30 g of resistant starch a day for 6 weeks helped decrease hormones that cause hunger in healthy people with overweight. Eating more resistant starch also increased compounds that help a person feel less hungry in the morning.

Including resistant starch in the diet may, therefore, aid weight loss efforts by increasing the amount of time for which a person feels satisfied after a meal. This increased satiety could prevent unnecessary snacking and excessive calorie intake.

Dieting. It’s a classic story for the ages that has seen so many myths, harsh realities and confusing quests to achieve one’s desired result. But with so many voices talking about the subject, it can be hard to distinguish what actually works and what is just a waste of your time. Of course, I could tell you that the key to leading a healthier lifestyle is to get off your butt and work out more and combine that with foods that are “healthier”; sadly, no, that doesn’t include the maple bar from Krispy Kreme that you had this morning. But what’s the fun in that? You’ve already heard that advice a million times, so this time I’m going to give you an opportunity to explore yet another diet and decide for yourself if the results (and sacrifices) are worth it. Introducing the “Eat Nothing White” diet:

Courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

What is it?

The “Eat Nothing White” diet, also called “No White at Night” diet, is based upon the principle of losing weight by cutting out “white” foods, which contain high concentrations of simple carbohydrates that can lead to drastic weight gain. Proponents of the diet praise its ability to reduce blood sugar (helping to keep weight in check), but often cite its difficulty to maintain long term. The diet calls for you to cut out white foods, including white potatoes, rice, flour, beans, sugar and products made with these, like bread or pasta. Additionally, dieters are urged to cut out products that would be white without artificial coloring added, like butter and cheddar cheese. Of course, like any diet there are exceptions to the white cut-outs. Exceptions are cauliflower, white fish and poultry meat.

What can you eat?

The diet seems simple to follow as all you have to do is make sure you’re cutting out the “bad” foods and sticking to the good. This diet is a good one to combine with other, healthier meal plans. For example, while cutting out the white foods, make sure that what you are eating is still beneficial for you. A sample menu includes lots of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, poultry/fish, nuts and brown rice or beans.

Pros/Cons

Unfortunately on trend with a lot of other fad diets, this one has a list of disadvantages. It has a high history of being too difficult to stick with, as cutting out all white foods is difficult. Additionally, many have seen that once they introduce these foods back into their diet, they also say hello to the weight they dropped. But on the bright side, the success of this diet truly does depend on you and how far you decide to take it. The disadvantages only lie in one’s inability to stick with it, which means there aren’t any significant health risks (which is common with other fad diets) and you remain in control of the results.

The Verdict
Personally, I think it’s a bit difficult to completely cut anything out of your normal routine, let alone foods that are often considered staple items. However, this diet does seem like, if done properly, you’ll see results. My advice, take it in moderation. Cut out some of the white foods you typically eat, like flour and sugar, and keep everything else in check. Exercise more than you probably want to, and add some other colors through fresh fruits and veggies. Also, if you try this, let me know how it goes!

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Starch Group

What foods are included?

Grains, starchy vegetables, and dry beans and peas make up this food group. What do the Starch Group foods have in common? They consist mainly of carbohydrate.

Grains include wheat, oats, rye, barley, and corn meal as well as the foods made from them: bread, cereal, rice, pasta, tortillas, and crackers. Starchy vegetables — which contain three times as much carbohydrate as non-starchy vegetables — include potatoes, green peas, corn, and squash. Kidney beans, pinto beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, and lentils are examples of dry beans and peas.

How much should I eat?

The Healthy Diabetes Plate recommends eating three servings from the starch group each day—one serving at each meal. This serving will cover a quarter of your 9-inch plate, no more than 1/2 inch high.

For grains, one serving is the equivalent of 1 ounce. That’s about:

  • one slice of bread
  • 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereal flakes
  • a half of one hamburger bun
  • 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta


4-inch square slice of bread
1 cup of cereal flakes
1/2 cup of cooked rice

For starchy vegetables, one serving equals 1/2 cup or one small- or medium-sized piece:


a small (3-inch)
baked potato
1/2 cup of green peas
a medium-sized
corn-on-the-cob

For dry beans and peas, one serving equals 1/2 cup of cooked beans and peas:

1/2 cup of cooked
kidney beans
1/2 cup of cooked black beans

which foods should I choose?

Grains are classified as either whole grains or refined grains. Whole grains—such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal—contain the entire grain kernel, including the bran, endosperm, and germ. In refined grains—such as white flour, white rice, and corn flakes—the bran and germ have been removed, decreasing the nutritional value of these products. If you have diabetes, you should choose whole grains because they help maintain normal blood sugar levels. For examples of grain foods, view printable tables of whole grains and refined grains.

When selecting starchy vegetables, choose items from each of the five color groups: blue/purple, green, white/tan/brown, yellow/orange, and red. Consult a printable table of starchy vegetables by color group.

Finally, pick your favorite dry beans and peas from this table.

What’s in it for my health?

Grains—especially whole grains—include:

  • fiber
  • B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate)
  • minerals (iron, selenium, and magnesium)

Starchy vegetables offer:

  • fiber
  • vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate)
  • minerals (potassium)

Dry beans and peas contribute:

  • fiber
  • protein
  • vitamins (vitamin B6, thiamin, and folic acid)
  • minerals (potassium, magnesium, and iron)

Consuming foods in this food group helps prevent cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.

Cooking tip #1!
Grains: Instead of using all white flour in a recipe, substitute whole-wheat flour for one-quarter or one-half of it.

Cooking tip #2!

Starchy Vegetables: Choose a yellow-fleshed potato like Yukon Gold when making mashed potatoes. Because they provide a buttery color and taste, you can use less margarine.

Cooking tip #3!
Dry Beans and Peas: If you don’t have time to cook dry beans and peas, use canned ones. To reduce the sodium content of canned products, be sure to drain and rinse them.

Shopping tips!
Watch this video for some tips when shopping for starches.

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