Low-Starch Diets

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A man and woman are cooking in their kitchen. (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Carbohydrates are made of starch, sugar and fiber. Most people are aware that fiber is a healthy component of carbohydrates, contributes to increasing satiety, and can help you stay regular, improve your blood sugar and cholesterol levels and lose weight. You also know that sugar can be deleterious for your health and should only be consumed in very small amounts. Although starch used to be called a complex carbohydrate, it is now understood that starch can be quickly broken down into sugar and have an effect similar to regular sugar. Starchy foods mostly include grains, flours and starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn and peas.

Breakfast

Breakfast may be a challenge if you want to reduce your starch intake because most breakfast foods are high in starch, including breakfast cereals, oatmeal, breads, bagels, muffins and croissants. Instead, you can mix 1/2 cup to 1 cup of cottage cheese with your favorite fruits, such as raspberries and diced pears, and mix with 1 to 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and ground flaxseeds. You could also have slices of smoked salmon rolled with cream cheese, nori sheets and avocado slices for a rice-free sushi-like breakfast. A spinach and mushroom frittata sprinkled with grated cheese also make a good breakfast option for your low-starch diet.

Lunch

For lunch, swap your usual sandwich for a lettuce wrap to reduce your starch intake. Choose a big lettuce leaf and fill it with chicken, grated cheese, mayonnaise and tomatoes or try a Mexican-inspired version with ground meat with chili powder, cheese, salsa and guacamole. Roll the lettuce leaf and enjoy. You could also prepare a simple salad, with an abundance of leafy greens and other nonstarchy vegetables, topped with tuna, salmon or chicken. Drizzle with your favorite salad dressing or a vinaigrette made by mixing equal parts of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If you usually eat out, ask for your sandwich or burger without the bread or bun and replace the french fries with a garden salad.

Dinner

For dinner, treat yourself to low-starch pasta made with spaghetti squash. Cut the spaghetti squash lengthwise, scoop out the seed, drizzle with olive oil and bake it in the oven or microwave until soft. Grate with a fork to get spaghetti-like filaments. Serve your favorite pasta sauce over the spaghetti squash pasta and sprinkle with some cheese. You can also have any protein, whether you choose fish, seafood, poultry or meat, served with a large serving of nonstarchy vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, red bell peppers or mushrooms. Drizzle your veggies with olive oil or add a dollop of butter to include some satiating fat in your meal.

Snack

Avoid starchy snacks like granola bars, pretzels, potato chips, rice cakes and crackers. Instead, have a handful of almonds with an apple, a serving of grapes with cheese, a few celery sticks spread with peanut butter, cottage cheese or plain yogurt mixed with berries or a smoothie made with milk, plain yogurt, half a banana and a handful of blueberries. If you want a starch-free treat, eat two to three squares of dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa.

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