a plate broken in half with starchy vegetables on one side

Are Starchy Vegetables Forbidden?

Making healthy food choices is an all-day job, especially when you are living with type 2 diabetes. But after growing up learning that vegetables are good for you, it can be confusing to be told that some must be eaten in moderation.

Some vegetables may raise blood sugar levels

Starchy vegetables carry the potential to raise blood glucose levels. Finding a vegetable you love may be difficult, and having the options narrowed down even further to help with blood sugar control is hard. Let’s take a look at how starchy vegetables can fit into your diet, even while living with type 2 diabetes.

What are starchy vegetables?

Starchy vegetables are those that contain a higher carbohydrate level than other vegetables. Due to this higher carbohydrate level, they are likely to have an effect on your blood sugar and therefore portions and preparations should be monitored.

Should I avoid eating starchy vegetables?

You do not have to avoid eating starchy vegetables altogether. Instead, you can find ways to incorporate them into your meals in adequate portions and by preparing them in techniques that do not add extra calories.

Common starchy vegetables include:

  • White potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Butternut squash

Optimal portion sizes

As with all foods, monitoring your portions is important when eating starchy vegetables. This will help you to better control your blood sugar levels. The easiest rule of thumb is to only fill ¼ of your plate with starchy vegetables. The other ¼ will have a protein option, and the entire other half will have non-starchy vegetables such as salad greens.

Portioning your plate in this manner is not only helpful for blood sugar control, but it will also lead to better satiety as protein and leafy green vegetables help you to feel full longer.

Healthier cooking techniques for starchy vegetables

Not only is portion control important, but so is the way you prepare your starchy vegetables. The healthiest cooking options are steaming, roasting, and baking. These use minimal fats and salt to achieve a delicious texture and they also keep many nutrients inside the vegetables intact. Frying is a less healthy cooking option as it uses a substantial amount of fat and will increase your calorie intake as well as your saturated fat intake.

What about non-starchy vegetables?

Now that we have spent time talking about starchy vegetables, it is worth mentioning that non-starchy vegetables such as cucumbers, lettuce, celery, and broccoli do not carry the same rules as their starchy counterparts. Although they do contain some carbohydrates, they are less likely to cause a jump in blood glucose levels.

If at the end of a meal you are still feeling a bit hungry, adding another small portion of non-starchy vegetables instead of starchy vegetables will help to keep you on track! If you have any questions about your diet, be sure to reach out to your physician or Registered Dietitian.

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