In this final part 3 of the series I want to talk about the Starch Solution, how I came across it and why I decided to go this specific route.
I know many of you are going to scream and shudder when you see the words “Starch Solution” on this page because for some reason we have been trained to think of carbohydrates as something evil, waist expanding and untouchable. I myself was definitely guilty of thinking that way about them and really quite unhappy about it because I love carbs, especially potatoes, and the more I restricted them the hungrier I felt and the more I wanted them. I am not really sure why it never fully occurred to me before that perhaps the carbs were not the actual problem….maybe it was the crazy high fat butter, sour cream, cream sauce, hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks, cheese, mayo etc. that we put in, on and around them. When I think of carbs I think of things such as vegetables, fruits, grains and potatoes all of which are for the most part nutrient dense, low in calories, low in fat and low in sodium. And these were the things that I was supposed to believe were making and keeping me fat??? It just doesn’t make sense!
So when I was first starting to think about making the transition to a plant based diet I was all over the internet looking for resources on how to do this so that I am getting in all of the vitamins and minerals I need such as iron, calcium, protein, vitamin B12 and so on and so forth, as well as optimizing my intake of healthy foods all while losing weight. Initially in my mind I was thinking “oh great, here we go again with trying to survive off of no dressing salads and non-starchy vegetables”. No matter how unhappy you feel about your body it is hard to get excited about a new way of eating, plant based or not, when you think you are going to be hungry and unsatisfied all the time.
With these negative thoughts in my mind I decided to head over to Youtube to check out some weight loss success stories, as these often help keep me motivated. I stumbled across this video with a before and after photo as the video thumbnail showing this girl’s 55 pound weight loss. What especially caught my eye is that this girl had pretty much the exact same body type as I do! She was a bit heavier than I was but in a way I felt like looking at her before photo was like looking in the mirror. And even better she looked fabulous in her after photo so I of course had to check it out. This girl was Hannah Janish (High Carb Hannah on Youtube).
I probably spent well over an hour sifting through her videos which were a lot of documentation of what she ate to lose the weight, recipes (she has great ones) and explanations as to why she eats the way she does. Luckily for me it turned out she was vegan, so of course following a plant based diet, and after having gained a lot of weight on a diet called Rawtill4 had discovered and switched to The Starch Solution by Dr. John A. McDougall, which was how she lost all the weight. I was so intrigued because in her “what I eat” type videos her meals looked delicious and were centred around starchy foods (rice, beans, potatoes, pasta, bread, and other whole grains and starchy vegetables). Basically all of the “evil” carbs I loved and felt satisfied by but had been avoiding because I thought they were making and keeping me fat. I NEEDED to read this book to see what this was really all about. So off to the library I went and since I am writing this post here today obviously I was hooked!
As I cannot properly do the information justice here, I really recommend that if you are interested in looking into this way of eating for yourself or just learning more about it that you read the book and/or check out Dr. McDougall’s website (here) which has all the basic information and background on the Starch Solution for free. A great start on the website would be to choose “Education” from the menu bar and then choose and read through “The Free Program”. There are also tons of Youtube videos of conferences, meetings, interviews etc. with Dr. McDougall speaking about the Starch Solution, why he believes so strongly in it (backed by scientific evidence), and how to follow it.
Without going into all of the science and evidence as to why this is an amazing diet for a healthy life (Dr. McDougall is the expert on that so please defer to him there), in a nutshell the Starch Solution is a way of eating that is low fat, plant based and each meal and snack is centred around a starch or combination of starches. For example potatoes, whole grains (ie. rice, quinoa, barley, oats, millet, wheat), beans, corn, and other starchy vegetables (ie. carrots and peas). This is all of course rounded out with non-starchy vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and so on and so forth. Oh and yes…you can eat bread and pasta! There is no counting calories or restriction on how much you can eat or how often but you are supposed to listen to your body and follow what is called “intuitive eating”. This means only eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. This does not mean stuffing yourself silly until you feel sick! If you are like me it may be a bit of a process learning how to eat intuitively and really listening to your body’s hunger cues. In the past I have definitely been guilty of eating just because I was bored or craving something, even if I was not actually hungry. I have also been guilty of eating until I am way to full for the sake of finishing what was on my plate or because what I was eating was so good I didn’t want to stop.
So anyway, to me the Starch Solution sounded fantastic. Yes trying to keep things very low fat can be challenging but more importantly and what wins out for me is that I find starchy foods to be the most comforting, delicious and satisfying. They keep me feeling full longer so I actually end up eating less at the end of the day and I don’t feel deprived which is such a relief. In the past when I have eliminated carbs and tried to live off of mostly non-starchy vegetables and lean meats I had to eat so much to feel full and then felt hungry again in no time at all. It was so frustrating! If I can lose weight and feel fabulous while still eating as much mashed potatoes and gravy as I want (low fat plant based versions of course) then I am in! (Oh and stay tuned because I have a vegan gravy recipe that is super low calorie, super low fat, easy to make, from scratch and that is just as good if not better than the real thing.)
Well there you have it, this ends my 3 part introduction to my new way of eating. I hope it has been somewhat interesting and might be helpful to someone else out there wanting to make a change or try something new. I am happy to answer any questions I can about all this so please don’t hesitate to ask. Moving forward I will try to keep you up to date on what I am eating and any changes if any to my plan along the way. I am excited to also start sharing some of the amazing recipes I have come across and formulated to keep me on track and excited about this journey!