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Remembering starches


One thing we noticed during our trip home in March was that many people are still struggling with what a “starch” really is, and what it means in their everyday meal planning. This is, of course, very important for people with diabetes because all starches will make your blood sugars go up.{{more}}

I’ll say that one more time for emphasis: remember that ALL starches will make your blood sugars go up!

“Starches” are anything made up of carbohydrates. If you think of a building with lots of blocks, you could call the building a “starch” or carbohydrate. All those little blocks that make up the building are in some way either glucose (sugar) or closely related. That means that all starches essentially are broken down to some form of sugar when you digest them, which is why it is so important for people with diabetes to watch ALL starches they eat, not just those that taste sweet.

Foods that are sweet are some of the obvious ones, like cake, cookies, icing, popsicles etc. Not-so-sweet foods, like bread, are also at the top of the list, and many people know this one. Crackers/biscuits, roti skin (all non-sweet, right?) are also on this list.

The ones that people seem to forget are the ground provisions: potatoes, eddoes, dasheen etc. When you make up your callaloo soup, don’t think that because it is soup with some stew meat that it is not without starches – if you have ANY ground provisions or dumplings in the soup, that is starch, so watch the amount you eat.

A roti is very troublesome for someone with diabetes, because of both the roti skin AND potatoes in it. Pizza is another one: remember the dough is starch!

Others are even sneakier: milk technically counts as both protein and starch, because it does have sugars in it. Some types of peas also count as both. Corn is starch for a diabetic, not a “vegetable.” Potato is NOT a vegetable, it is a starch.

Drinks always catch people off guard: juice of any type, and definitely any non-diet sodas (pepsi, coke, ju-c, ginger ale) will all contain sugars and make your blood sugar level go up. Think about what you have in your cups! I know it is boring, but truly, water is always best, or coffee or tea WITHOUT sugar added (or minimal sugar).

I encourage you to really pay attention to what you are eating. Even with money concerns and food out of season etc, you can still make some careful choices about your food. And it is IMPORTANT, so please try!

Until next week, stay safe and healthy Vincies!

Anita Ramsetty, MD
Medical Director Endocrine Care Group
Tel: 843-798-4227