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Veggies: The Starchy vs. The Non-Starchy

A recurrent theme that I have come across in my years as a dietitian is clients telling me they are making a conscience effort to minimize starch portions on their plate and maximize vegetable portions, but they still aren’t seeing results in their weight loss or diabetes maintenance efforts. What could the problem be? Sometimes it’s because they are eating too many starchy veggies and not enough non-starchy veggies.

The major starchy veggies consist of peas, corn, parsnips, winter squash and both white and sweet potatoes. These starchy veggies are going to come in at about 15g carbohydrate per serving. A serving of peas, corn, parsnips and potato is considered ½ cup, for squash a serving is ¾ cup.  Beets and carrots aren’t as starchy but still come in at about 15g carbohydrate for 1 cup. So while these veggies are certainly not off limits, keep in mind that when trying to balance out your plate, it’s better to view them as the starch of your meal (as you would rice, pasta, etc.) versus the veggie.

So if these are the starchy veggies, what are the non-starchy veggies? Pretty much every other vegetable not mentioned above can fall into the non-starchy category: kale, lettuce, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, kale, etc. These veggies are going to be jam-packed with vitamins and minerals and antioxidants (the more colorful the better!) and they are going to all be very low in carbohydrates, fat, and protein so are going to contribute to volume on your plate without adding lots of calories. Most of these veggies are loaded with fat-soluble vitamins, which are vitamins A, D, E and K, which are better absorbed when eaten with a little bit of fat, so feel free to jazz your veggies up with a little olive oil, grass fed butter, coconut oil or a healthy fat of your choice.


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