Recently I was chatting with a reader who mentioned that her husband was a meat and potatoes guy and the carbs were really hard to give up for both of them when it was time to lose the weight. It got me thinking about my own experiences and I realized I had a post in me about it. So this is the post about potatoes. 🙂
When I was a kid, my family was the tradition meat and potatoes type. Dinners were some sort of protein (often chicken) with some vegetables (frozen), some fruit (from a can) and some sort of carb like a baked potato or rice. As an adult I understand this now because that’s cheap. A bag of potatoes are like $1 and would feed a family for weeks, definitely cost effective.
When I moved out on my own I continued that behavior for dinners because it was all I knew. I made a lot of things from a box–like those Hamburger Helper type meals and the rice casserole bakes. Basically, the easy stuff you can put together in 5 minutes and doesn’t require any cooking skills. I depended on this type of eating for years. (As well as frozen pizzas, frozen burritos and fast food.)
Of course when it was time to lose weight I had to re-evaluate how I was eating. I had to stay within my calorie range each day and I had to make changes. Yet potatoes and rice and other carby-goodies like that remained a part of my diet. A dinner didn’t seem complete without rice or something like that. Also? A dinner roll. A dinner wasn’t complete without one. That’s a lot of calories!
When I moved in with Michael (almost 4 years ago now) my dinners changed pretty drastically. When I was living on my own, I ate a lot of Lean Cuisines with a side salad for dinners. It was just me and there wasn’t a reason to cook a big meal. Michael was the cook in the relationship and that started to change my thinking. I didn’t want to eat the frozen processed crap and cooking together was fun. He’s also into healthy eating (most of the time) and decided that white potatoes weren’t healthy and didn’t want them in his diet. I jumped on board because of the calorie counts in them, honestly. But then I got used to it and found that I didn’t miss the baked potato with everything on it.
We made the change to sweet potatoes. That became a staple in ours dinner rotation, probably once or twice a week. They were so much lower in calories AND healthier.
“Sweet potatoes also have a lower glycemic index than regular potatoes. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly blood glucose levels rise after eating. Foods that have a low glycemic index do not cause a quick spike in blood sugar and thus do not overwork the pancreas, said Bovell-Benjamin. As a result, people don’t experience the same roller coaster of sugar highs and lows, which can lead to hunger and the consumption of extra calories. In other words, foods with lower glycemic indexes, like sweet potatoes and brown rice, make you feel full longer.” (source)
We also went through a phase of sweet potato fries! They were so good! We made them probably once a week, usually on the weekends with our turkey burgers. It was a good substitute to the high fat, fried onion rings and regular fries.
Slowly we phased out even the sweet potatoes. I don’t know if it was something conscious or if we just stopped thinking to buy them at the store. I really can’t answer that question. The same thing happened with the rice. We don’t eat it very often. I probably eat it more in Mexican restaurants than I do at home. Again, no idea why we stopped eating rice.
Sometimes we eat quinoa, sometimes couscous or Israeli couscous, but it’s not very often. If I had to guess I’d say once or twice a month. What I find most interesting is that I never felt like I was missing out on something, or like I was torturing myself by not eating carby things like that. I just didn’t miss it. You really can change your habits and cravings for the better.
QUESTION: Have you ever tried limiting or phasing out carbs like potatoes and bread? How did it go?
Michelle @ Eat Move Balance
I have found that consuming some carbs in the morning (oat bran or sprouted bread) works well for me. And as the day goes on, the less carbs I have.
Michelle @ Eat Move Balance recently posted..KISS: Herbes de Provence Chicken and Vegetables
That’s great that you found what worked for you. When I was eating bread, I usually had an english muffin with peanut butter on the weekends before working out. It was just enough food to keep me full but not so much I felt sick at the gym!
I never met a carb I didn’t like, so don’t think I could eliminate them completely, but like you, our consumption of them has greatly reduced. In frequency, and in portion size. That said, a warm piece of bread? Yes please! 🙂 Have a great day Lisa.
Roz@weightingfor50 recently posted..“Family Day” in B.C
I hear ya! I’ve been thinking about bread this week. Hot, freshly baked, dripping in butter bread. Grrrr.
I can limit bread and potatoes just fine, but, rice seems to be more difficult because I cook a lot of asian food. I recently started trying to limit my intake of wheat products just because I reading about genetically modified foods and the possible link to gluten intolerance – I tolerate it just fine, but it’s just scary knowing so much of the seed that grows our food has been modified. That’s another topic though…
I’ve been looking at gluten free recipes lately and found this site (I’m not affiliated with it in any way) I noticed she labels several of her recipes “gluten-free, dairy-free” and I thought of you, so I’m just passing it along!
I get that! The GMO foods are definitely scary. Thanks for the link. I will look at it now.
I’ve been not eating bread and potatoes for a few months, and I really don’t miss them. I never ate a lot of pasta, either, so my carbs mostly come from veggies and fruits now. I actually feel a lot better without all the super-starchy stuff.
That’s great that you just naturally got rid of it and feel better. I never crave pasta either, but I have a friend that says that’s her trigger food. She loves pasta and can’t resist it.
I think it’s great that you guys have “phased out” alot of the starches from your diets. In many ways I think that the health benefits of cutting back on carbs are just as much about what they are replaced with as they are about the removal of the actual item. I get really tired of all of the “don’t eat this it’s bad for you” talk that you see every day,it’s depressing and it feels like sometimes it creates a culture of fear (which isn’t really how I would like to live) It’s helpful for me to see that your approach became more about losing the desire as opposed to some sort of crusade to eliminate them from your diet. Personally I believe in balance, any diet that says one food group is going to give you everything you need does not seem very balanced to me. I’m looking towards getting my grains as whole and unprocessed as possible and to portion control the starches (when you are on a budget starches are not something that you can easily eliminate) Ok, sorry for the book, your post just got me thinking this mornin, hope you are well, luv ya guys 🙂
Thanks for the comment, Kat! I agree. What you describe is one of the main reasons I was reluctant to do any sort of diet (Paleo, Slow Carb, gluten free etc). I don’t think food is bad. I think there are better options than some of the junk out there, but labeling food like that makes you just want it more. That’s why calorie counting works so well for me–I can eat whatever I want, no restrictions, as long as I’m in my calories for the day.
Wish you were in town! We need to hang out soon!
As someone else said I like to have a carb in the morning – either a bagel flat or english muffin (I am now into PB2 instead of peanut butter) or oatmeal but as the day goes on I don’t have any. In the winter especially I find it hard to have something cold for breakfast like cottage cheese or yogurt w/ fruit. But once you get into the habit of eliminating them the easier it is. The bread basket at a restaurant is very hard!!
I agree about the restaurant bread basket! The bread is fresh and warm and the dipping sauces are so good….mmmm!
Dammit woman! Now I want me some sweet potato fries! And a dinner roll.
It’s hard to change our diets from the foods we grew up with to something more healthful. I grew up on just about as processed a diet as one can get. If it looked like it was killed or plucked from the ground, I wanted no part of it. Just gimme some damn Kraft mac and cheese.
Having a cook in the house, or learning to cook yourself, will go a long way towards improving your diet. More people need to take the time to prepare something nice for dinner. As you discovered, a diet of Lean Cuisines just ain’t gonna cut it.
Trevor recently posted..Are You Really the Man You Should Be?
That’s too funny! I wouldn’t say I hated anything that grew in the earth but I was definitely more likely to choose the easier option.
Are you the cook in your house?
I ❤ 2 Eat
I grew up on rice – two meals a day, without fail. That’s what everyone in Bangladesh eats – how can you have dinner without rice? That doesn’t make sense! My husband is diabetic and decided he didn’t want to eat rice anymore, so we’ve more or less cut it out of our diet. We also moved on to sweet potatoes from white potatoes. I love carbs so I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to completely give it up. But slowly, there is progress. 😀
I ❤ 2 Eat recently posted..It Just Wasn’t Meant To Be…
I didn’t know you were from Bangladesh! I bet you ate amazing food growing up there.
Have you tried black rice? That’s my new favorite thing.
Kristen@Change of Pace
We eat a paleo diet at home so we don’t eat any rice, pasta, potatoes, or bread. I was a lot like you when I was little with always having to have a carb. I grew up learning that it’s supposed to be on your plate. Meatloaf, green beans, mashed potatoes. Right?
I’ve never really been a big meat eater so my challenge was to learn to like meat and eggs more so I could forget about the carbs. It was hard because I had to retrain myself.
Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans sound pretty fantastic to me right now!
Ali @ Peaches and Football
Yes! Rice, beans, pasta, potatoes – they are all evil, evil, evil things when I’m trying to lose weight. But I agree, I think we’re drawn to them because of childhood and because they are easy, quick, and yummy. My boyfriend is a meat and potato guy so we’ve been working on not totally eliminating the starch but reducing it by adding more veggies and making the potato or rice a small side. I have roasted butternut squash in the oven and that’s been so good – if I could get the guy on board we’d have that a lot more. Small steps 🙂
It sounds like you guys are making strides in retraining your mind. Squash is great side dish. It feels like you’re eating a carb but not really.
I tend to eat just under my recommended carb range without trying, and I naturally eat less carbs as the day progresses. I start my day with cereal and greek yogurt, fruit and cheese for a snack, something on toast for lunch, protein snack in the afternoon, then meat and veg for dinner. We don’t eat potatoes much in my house because to be perfectly honest we are all too lazy. It is easier and quicker to chop and steam some broccoli than to wash or peel and then chop potatoes.
That’s great that it naturally tapers off throughout the day.