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Those who have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness. Edward Stanley
My youngest sister called me up yesterday. “What do you think of oatmeal for breakfast?”
“I think it’s great and is one of my go-to breakfasts.”
“Dr. Hyman says oatmeal spikes our blood sugar and makes us hungrier.”
“I uh, well…” I didn’t know what to say to her.
Three and a half years ago my son challenged me to the three-week vegan challenge. He introduced me to the book The Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall.
I took the challenge not because a vegan diet is healthy. It can be, but just cutting things out of your diet doesn’t mean it is healthy. Following Dr. McDougall’s Starch Solution is healthy. By loosely following The Starch Solution, staying off dairy, eating very little meat, I lost 25 lbs in three years of not dieting.
Dr. McDougall believes all healthy, long-lived populations live on starch as the main ingredient in their diet. This is rice, beans, lentils, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, corn, and grains. He believes we are “starch eaters.”
His starch-based diet differs from a vegan diet and a plant-based diet. We have an enzyme in our saliva which digests starch. We differ from apes and chimpanzees in this regard.
The glycemic index is an index which measures how fast a food spikes our blood sugar. The idea is that foods that spike our blood sugar are bad, and foods that cause less of a spike are good. Sugar which is 50% fructose spikes our blood sugar less than starchy foods.
Dr. McDougall’s table on the glycemic index.
Low Glycemic Index doesn’t necessarily equate with healthy
Junk food with GI less than 40
Chocolate cake (38)
Nestle Quick Strawberry Drink (35)
No Bake Egg Custard (35)
Sara Lee Premium Ice Cream (37)
Chocolate Mile with Sugar (34)
M&Ms with peanuts (33)
Pizza Supreme (30)
Egg Fettucini (32)
Fructose – a pure sugar (19)
Healthy Foods with GI greater than 80
Nabisco Shredded Wheat (83)
Corn Meal Porridge (109)
Jasmine Rice (109)
Brown Rie – Calrose (87)
Corn Thins (87)
Baked Potato (85)
Boiled Potato (101)
Dr. McDougall believes fat, not sugar causes diabetes. From my own experience, it seems weight gain happens when high fat, and high carbohydrates are eaten in the same meal. This is why low fat, high carbohydrate (starch) and high fat, low carbohydrate diets both works for weight loss.
Your diet is a bank account. Good food choices are good investments. Bethenny Frankel
There is a lot of division on which of these two diets are the healthiest. What appears to work for me, makes me feel better, lost weight, etc. is the Starch Solution Dr. McDougall recommends. Starch is satisfying.
After about forty when the weight started to creep on, I started watching what I ate. Food journaling became one of my strategies. Low carb is very hard to stick to. It sounds great in the beginning all the meat, eggs, cheese, and green vegetables you want. This way of eating gets old very fast.
Suzanne Somers has a diet which is a combination diet. A meal can be either a starch/low fat or high fat/protein low carbohydrate. Fruit is eaten separately on an empty stomach. Food combining is not a new concept Harvey and Marilyn Diamond introduced this concept in Fit for Life in 1985. This way of eating did not keep me as slim or healthy as I wanted. One of the reasons is it isn’t necessarily a diet focused on health. Suzanne Somers recommended not eating the starchiest foods. It could be healthier, but often my mindset was, how can I eat “that” and get away with it.
The Starch Solution is focused on health. Dr. McDougall has many articles free on the internet which talk about how changing to a starch-based diet deals with most of the health concerns we have, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, etc. If you have a health problem and Google Dr. McDougall and that health concern he probably has a video or article on it.
The mistake I made was cutting starch out of my diet as I tried to keep slim and trim. Bringing starch back into my diet has made me slimmer and trimmer. Somehow starch has been equated with bad carbohydrates. Bad carbohydrates are processed foods, high sugar foods, no nutrition foods. Let’s bring back potatoes, oatmeal, grains, rice, beans, lentils, corn, yams, and bananas. Cut out the high sugar no nutrition foods, the processed foods.
Dairy and meat are not recommended by Dr. McDougall. We will not get healthier by not eating something. We will get healthier by eating good nutritious food our body can digest. Can we all digest the same foods? Probably not. Figuring out what works for us is part of our journey.
One of the things mom told me is not to diet. I followed her advice after a few years of trying to diet and not getting what I wanted. When I quit dieting I was slimmer. Then when forty came I got on the roller coaster of dieting. Now, no longer dieting, eating starch, I am healthier. We don’t do well when we are hungry and dieting makes us hungry. Eating starch is satiating, gives us energy, vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, everything our body needs.
We were healthier as a people when we embraced starch. As we’ve gotten away from starch we’ve become less healthy. We don’t need a new way of eating; we need to get back to the old way of eating. If we have a little meat with our starch or don’t, it isn’t a deal breaker.
The answer to my sister’s question is eat more starch, oatmeal is a starch. The glycemic index may have its use, but what it did is make the healthiest food we were eating (starch) into the villain. Those of us who followed those dictates are less healthy because we took the starch out of our diet.
The McDougall challenge is to eat more starch.
To take his challenge, simply add to your diet any one or a mixture daily of the following without taking anything away and see how you feel.
4 cups of steamed rice
4 cups of boiled corn
4 mashed potatoes
4 baked sweet potatoes
3 cups of cooked beans, peas, or lentils
4 cups of boiled spaghetti noodles
12 slices of whole grain bread
Finally, someone telling us to eat what we love. Don’t slather it in a lot of fat, because too much fat with your starch will make you fat.
Are we as healthy as we think we should be? Through experimentation, we can find what works for us. Are we up for the starch challenge?
Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. Michael Pollan
The Starch Solution: Eat the Foods You Love, Regain Your Health, and Lose the Weight for Good! Paperback – Jun 4 2013