starchs-whole-grainsStarches: often our greatest love and our greatest enemy when trying to manage glucose. So much fear is engrained in people with diabetes regarding starches. And it doesn't help they often feel guilty when admitting to eating starch. That's why it's vital to remind people with diabetes that they can still enjoy starches. What they need to remember is how much they are having at one time (portion sizes) and what else they’re eating with it.

The most beneficial and helpful ways to determine portion sizes are to break out the measuring cup, use a food scale, and read food labels.

According to the Free Dictionary, starch is: "A naturally abundant nutrient carbohydrate found chiefly in the seeds, fruits, tubers, roots, and stem pith of plants, notably in corn, potatoes, wheat, and rice, and varying widely in appearance according to source but commonly prepared as a white amorphous tasteless powder." Other notable examples of starches include: pastas, muffins, peas, lima beans, quinoa, couscous, chips, pretzels, popcorn, cookies, cakes, and ice cream–and that is not even a comprehensive list of all these foods.

The key is to identify and manage starch amounts in order to keep glucose in range. This is why we put together some strategies to help people.

Remember these tips when having starches:

  • Spread them out throughout the day. Have starch with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Do not save them all for one meal, and do not eliminate them completely from your diet.
  • Think low-fat. Total fat less than 5% daily value.
  • Aim for a quarter of your plate to be made up of whole gains at meals, the other quarter of the plate to be a protein, and then one-half of your plate should be non-starchy vegetables.
  • Reach for measuring cups, especially when having pasta and rice.
  • Check your blood glucose two hours post meals after having a large starch meal.
  • Half your starch portions. If it’s not realistic to weigh and measure foods, cut your portion in half and increase your protein and non-starchy vegetables.

During the holidays, at parties, or eating out use these helpful hints when having treats:

  • If on mealtime insulin, keep your treat with the meal you are taking insulin, not in between meals.
  • Keep your treat to a small portion; aim for less than 100 calories.
  • Choose a low-fat item. When reading food labels, you want to get the most for 100 calories, but you want the food item to be less than 5% daily value of total fat.
  • Count treats as starch.

Hopefully these tips and hints will help you make informed and healthier decisions in this new year!