When on a diet, potatoes should be eaten in moderation; luckily there are plenty of delicious substitutes.
Potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables, but you can quickly get bored of them if you eat them boiled or steamed all the time while you’re on a diet. It’s a good idea to diversify your diet to avoid nutrient deficiencies, and carbohydrates should not be excluded.
Carbohydrates provide the body with energy and, according to dieticians, make up 50% of a good diet. They are therefore not as harmful as sometimes claimed by fad diets: they are converted into a kind of ‘fuel’ in the cells, glucose, or they feed the other cells in the form of fatty acids.
‘Good’ and ‘bad’ carbohydrates
By eating simple carbohydrates, such as refined cereals and sugars, not enough nutrients are provided for the body; besides, these types of carbohydrates are absorbed quickly and can cause a sudden rise and then drop in blood sugar levels. They can be consumed in moderation, but excessive intake leads to energy storage, which is converted into fat and causes obesity.
The other type of complex carbohydrates includes starches and fibers, the latter being effectively vegetable carbohydrates. These carbohydrates, which are absorbed slowly, include vegetables and whole grains. Fiber passes through the intestinal tract undigested, feeding beneficial intestinal bacteria that turn it into fatty acids. They help to maintain a proper intestinal flora, which is key not only for weight loss but also for maintaining mental and physical health – it’s no coincidence that the recommended daily intake of carbohydrates is suggested to be made up from complex varieties.
Some foods that contain plenty of complex carbohydrates and proteins include:
Hulled barley is a whole grain, as only the inedible hulls are removed during processing. A versatile grain, barley is not only high in fiber but also a good source of phytonutrients, such as vitamin B1, magnesium, manganese and selenium.
The beta-glucan fiber content of barley has been shown to lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels, slowing down the absorption of sugar. It’s worth including this nutritious and filling grain in your daily menu; barley is time-consuming to prepare but well worth it.
Buckwheat can be eaten by people with gluten intolerance; it is rich in antioxidants, its fiber content is 26% higher than of other cereals, it is also full of minerals, and helps regulate blood sugar levels. Buckwheat husk is rich in resistant starch, which, like fiber, passes through the intestines undigested. Buckwheat can be bought in the form of flour, meal or flakes and can be used in a variety of ways. It can also made into a delicious side dish to accompany roasted vegetables.
Lentils are one of the best sources of fiber, while also being a protein-rich legume with 93-99.7% insoluble fiber. The low glycemic index of lentils means that they don’t raise blood sugar levels, and they are known to have a digestive and diuretic effect. They give a long-lasting feeling of fullness, make an excellent side dish to replace potatoes, and can be the basic ingredient of a delicious lentil salad. Several varieties are available: green or red lentils don’t need to be pre-soaked and can be prepared in 15 minutes.