Plant based diet vs starch based diet

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Plant based diet vs starch based diet

Postby dianeb1944 » Thu Jul 31, 2008 5:03 pm

Hi Jeff,
I am finishing Caldwell Esselstyn's book, Prevent and Reverse Heart DIsease. His eating recommendation is a "plant based diet." I know from hearing Dr McDougall speak on several occasions and travelling with he and Mary to Costa Rica, that he advocates a "starch based," diet. I thought they were one in the same...Can you explain to me, specifically, where their emphasis is different, if it is, specifically which foods are considered plant based and which are considered starch based. I am at a loss to see the diff. Thanks, Diane
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Postby karin_kiwi » Thu Jul 31, 2008 8:32 pm

I can't speak for Esselstyn's program, except that from comments from others here it resembles the McDougall program fairly closely.

I believe the reason that McDougall emphasizes the "starch-based diet" is to make it quite distinct from "vegan" diet that just means no animal products (but anything else is fair game). A "starch-based diet with the addition of fruits and vegetables" very clearly says what to eat, not just what not to eat. And it's what you do eat that is most important. Many (most?) vegans that I've come across have quite unhealthy diets - as far away as you can possibly get from McDougall's while still avoiding animal products. A vegan diet simply means no animal products; it does not by definition mean healthy.

For example, a "plant-based" (or "vegan" if you like) diet could consist of lots of refined grains, white bread, potato chips, nuts, seeds, free oils, lots of tofu, soy products and other faux meat and dairy - with very little in the way of starches, fruits and vegetables! A diet based around this is probably no better than many standard omnivorous diets. But it is, technically, plant-based or vegan.

Hope that helps.
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Re: Plant based diet vs starch based diet

Postby Clary » Fri Aug 01, 2008 7:21 am

dianeb1944 wrote:Hi Jeff,
I am finishing Caldwell Esselstyn's book, Prevent and Reverse Heart DIsease. His eating recommendation is a "plant based diet." I know from hearing Dr McDougall speak on several occasions and travelling with he and Mary to Costa Rica, that he advocates a "starch based," diet. I thought they were one in the same...Can you explain to me, specifically, where their emphasis is different, if it is, specifically which foods are considered plant based and which are considered starch based. I am at a loss to see the diff. Thanks, Diane


Hi Diane,
I LOVE that book. What stood out to me the most about Dr. E's book was how the author motivated me. I like the simple, easy-to-prepare delicious recipes, too! I envy your being able to hear Dr. McDougall in person, and having the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica with the McDougalls. What a gift. :nod:

I'm certainly not Jeff, but will add some of my thoughts to what has been posted.

I think yours is an excellent question! --and an important one for those of us who wish to try to closely follow Dr. McDougall's programs, as he designed them to obtain the most improvement and the most lasting success; and the "starch" component is not often emphasized here on the board. Without the starches as the center of the meals, it's not "McDougalling." :?

Soon after we moved to this "new" Dr. McDougall-hosted board from the VegSource hosted board, I noticed that for some unknown reason, more and more frequently, people used the term "Vegan" when referring to Dr. McDougall's program. He separates himself purposely from the vegetarian and vegan categories. He defines his program as a STARCH-Based (or starch-centered) Program, as you pointed out.

His program IS different from a plant-based diet because of his emphasis on the regular, repeated use of starches as the --center-- of the diet. As far as I know, his teachings are unique in this respect.

If you have the 12 Days to Dynamic Health book, the STARCH STAPLES are listed on pp. 94 and 95. (My copy of the book was printed in 1991.) Or see the recommended STARCHES here at the Free Program: http://www.drmcdougall.com/free_4b.html

There are at least 75 high-starchy foods listed in my book, and the website list is probably updated from the list in the book. These foods are meant to be the foods Dr.McDougall's programs are "centered" around in our meals. A person could be eating a totally plant-based diet and yet never eat even one bite of the McDougall recommended starchy foods.

All the starchy foods on the McDougall "Starch Staples" list come from plants or are made from plants, (are "plant-based"), but all plants or plant-based foods aren't necessarily starches. :unibrow:

Dr. McDougall often uses the term starch-centered (starch-based), meaning the meals in his programs are centered around or planned around the starches in the meals. The starch at meals is the "main dish". In the 12 Days book, for example, in the publisher's note: "The McDougall Program uses a starch-centered diet with the addition of fruits and vegetables."

In the same book Dr. McDougall says, "A starch-based diet is one of the fundamentals of the McDougall Program"; --and, "Of all the misconceptions I once held about nutrition, the idea that starches are fattening was the easiest for me to correct"; --and, "Follow a diet centered around starches with the addition of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables"; --and, "From the first day our patients eat carefully prepared and mouth-watering meals featuring starches...."; --and, "The Essentials [of 12 day program]: A health-supporting twelve-day diet in which you eat starches, vegetables, and fruits high in complex carbohydrates and fiber and low in fat, and judicious daily [moderate] exercise"; --and, "My recommendations: Follow the McDougall Program. A low-fat, no-cholesterol, starch-based diet..." ; --and many other references to his starch-centered or starch-based food plans.

As often as he mentions that his programs are Starch-Centered, that "piece" of the program seems sometimes not to be noticed and dwelled upon or discussed as much as other principles of his program are; or is somehow overlooked, for one reason or another. I know it took a while for the "Starch-Centerdness" principle to sink in for me :!:, and even longer for me to learn to plan ahead for it and implement it! :?

I can still remember how amazing I felt, and how long I felt "full" and satisfied, and how my appetite calmed down, and my cravings went away once I finally "got it" about starch being the center of my meals (and changed my thinking about "potatoes being fattening", etc. :) ), as he teaches. A person can be a practicing vegetarian (as I considered myself), or a strict vegan, or a raw foodist, or faithfully following a "plant-based diet" and yet never eat even one starchy food! :eek:

Whereas, as a SAD eater the question, "What's for dinner/supper?" was usually answered with "chicken, fish, meatloaf, steak, pork chops", etc.; a starch-centered diet names the starch of the meal for what we are having as "the meal": "We're having rice, wheat, potatoes, corn, oats, millet, noodles, yams, acorn squash, garbanzos/limas/navy beans, peas, lentils, etc. --(with added fruits or/and vegetables)."

Instead of "Where's the beef?", McDougallers ask, "Where's the Starch?" ;-) --and then build the meal around that starch, like some of us might have built a meal around meat in the past.

A person could be on a plant-based diet and drink fresh juices, and blend delicious smoothies with added green veges and fruits, eat nuts, eat big salads with a variety of colorful raw or cooked veges, eat "fake" vegetarian meats and "fake" cheeses, tofu dishes, eat lots of luscious fresh fruit and leafy greens, and NOT be following a McDougall starch-centered diet. That's a choice. Choosing "McDougalling" includes the regular addition of the starchy foods at meals.

Jeff recently posted an excellent sample menu plan/guide for a McDougall Starch-Based diet, and he lists a starch as the center of each meal:

JeffN wrote:
JeffN wrote: If you follow the guidelines and principles recommended here, you will cover the basics without having to count servings.


Let me expound on this.

If you follow a starch based diet with the addition of fruit and green and yellow veggies at each meal, and consume enough to maintain your healthy weight then your day "may" look something "generically" like this...

(using averages for calories and serving sizes)

Breakfast:
Whole Grains (2 cups) 320 calories
Fresh Fruit (1 cup) 120 calories

Lunch:
Starchy Vegetable (2 cups) 320 calories
Legumes (1/2 cup) 120 calories
Veggies (2 cups of salad, soup and/or steamed veggies) 100 calories
Fruit (1 serving) 60 calories

Dinner:
Starchy Vegetable (2 cups) 320 calories
Legumes (1/2 cup) 120 calories
Veggies (2 cups of salad, soup and/or steamed veggies) 100 calories
Fruit (1 serving) 60 calories

Thats 12 servings of Starchy Veggies/Whole Grains and 960 calories

Thats 3 servings of Legumes and 240 calories

Thats 8 servings of veggies and 200 calories
Thats 4 servings of fruit and 240 calories

thats 12 servings of fruits and veggies but only 1640 calories.

Of course, you could adjust the fruits, veggies, starchy veggies, etc up or down somewhat to fit your own preference, but the end results would be fairly similar.

And for those who want, add in a serving of nuts/seeds or avocado and that's another 175 calories and you are at ~1800 calories.

Not bad! And simple and easy.

BTW, those are also some fairly large sized and filling meals. :)

In Health
Jeff

PS when neighbors, friends and families ask me how many servings of fresh fruits veggies, starchy veggies, intact whole grains and legumes they should eat or feed to their children, my answer is always the same ...

....as much as you can. :)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
STARCH-CENTERED is the difference in and the key to success on a Dr. McDougall program, compared to "plant-based" or vegan, or vegetarian, yet the STARCH is sometimes overlooked. We can be sincerely compliant as "a vegetarian" or "a vegan" or as "plant-based", and yet not meet the suggested guidelines for being a Starch-Centered "McDougaller".

I break into a big grin :D Every Single Time I read "mmm..... potatoes." at the end of Mrs. Doodlepunk's posts!
Last edited by Clary on Fri Aug 01, 2008 5:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby momof4 » Fri Aug 01, 2008 9:58 am

http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2008nl/ ... tacles.htm

If you haven't seen it yet, his latest newsletter explains the starch-based part of his diet very well.

Clary, you did a great job!
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Postby Suebee » Fri Aug 01, 2008 10:17 am

Thanks a lot Clary! That's as clear as I've ever seen it. I must have missed when Jeff posted that, so I really appreciate a review. I've been trying Dr. Fuhrman's version of vegan for the past 3 weeks--so far, no weight loss and a LOT of GI trouble! So now it's time to try Dr. McDougall again.
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Postby JeffN » Fri Aug 01, 2008 11:57 am

Thanks everyone.

I could not have said it any better. :)

In Health
Jeff
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A reply to your replies

Postby dianeb1944 » Fri Aug 01, 2008 4:22 pm

Wow!!! What a breadth of knowledge here. Thanks so much for all the great comments and the clarification.....Be careful Jeff N or Clary will steal your job! HA!
I do clearly recall Dr. M saying in Costa Rica during his evening lecture, that "you won't really understand this diet until you get that this is a starch (centered) based diet." Starches are the center, or the focus of the meal, complimented with fruits and vegetables. Clary, you really nailed it for me. Very, very clear and well written. Now, I need to get a list of the recommended starches, from his book, or his web site, and ask myself at every meal: "What starch(es) are we going to have," and then compliment the starch with veggies and fruits. " I guess I am just not yet real familiar with the "list of recommended starches" although I know many of them from eating with the McDougalls in Costa Rica and other various functions but I need to have that list I can draw from and then plan accordingly....Jeff's prior post also really clarified it with his sample menu although he mentions (starches) not the name of the starch as an example but I can look up that list and post it on my refrigerator until I become real familiar with it. Although I don't think could never come close to eating as much food as Jeff's sample seems to have. But I must say, I really pigged out in Costa Rica. I really am enjoying Dr. E's book, but I am not clear yet as to where starches fit into his meal plans. Is his planvegetables and fruits with starches just complimenting the meal plan? I guess this is still where my confusion lies as to his emphasis on starches compared to Dr. M's. Perhaps his plan is more like Dr. Fuhrmans and I think I would be hungry on that plan.

Thanks. Diane
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Re: A reply to your replies

Postby JeffN » Fri Aug 01, 2008 5:42 pm

dianeb1944 wrote:Be careful Jeff N or Clary will steal your job!


I was thinking the exact same thing while I was reading her response!

;)

She can fill in for me when I go on vacation.


In Health,
Jeff
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Postby momof4 » Sat Aug 02, 2008 8:29 am

I'm embarassed to admit this, but I've been reading Dr McDougall's info for 7 years, and always felt like a failure at it because I was a lacto/ovo veg (never thought I'd be able to give that up!) and couldn't go "no added oils." I eliminated the dairy and eggs a year ago (which ended up being much easier than I ever imagined), but have had a problem with the "no added oils."

After seeing Jeff's simple daily diet idea (which Clary posted here), I decided to give it a try and began using the Cron-O-Meter. It really made me see how I wasn't eating all of those starches (usually had just one serving a day), and now I'm feeling completely STUFFED, eating around 1200 kcals/day, and getting much more nutrition than I ever thought I could. Plus, this past week, I had one meal where I sauted some vegies in oil (the only time I added oil) , and my serving had 1 tsp of it--I didn't think anything of it (considered it that "5%"), but an hour later I had a rumbly tummy and had to use the bathroom...

So, instead of focusing on what I thought was the negative part of Dr McDougall's diet (no added fats), I SHOULD have been focusing on the positive--fill up on starches! Now, I know I've read this numerous times on this site, but for some reason (Clary's post along with Dr McDougall's newsletter), it finally clicked for me. I've been waiting for this "click" for years, and it finally happened. :)
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Postby JeffN » Sat Aug 02, 2008 8:35 am

momof4 wrote: So, instead of focusing on what I thought was the negative part of Dr McDougall's diet (no added fats), I SHOULD have been focusing on the positive--[b]fill up on starches! [/b]


...with the addition of fruits and veggies.

Thank You!

You just summarized 6 months and over 1000 posts of mine! :)

In Health
Jeff

PS dont forget to go for a walk!
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Re: Plant based diet vs starch based diet

Postby JeffN » Sun Aug 03, 2008 7:08 am

JeffN wrote: If you follow the guidelines and principles recommended here, you will cover the basics without having to count servings.

Let me expound on this.

If you follow a starch based diet with the addition of fruit and green and yellow veggies at each meal, and consume enough to maintain your healthy weight then your day "may" look something "generically" like this...

(using averages for calories and serving sizes)

Breakfast:
Whole Grains (2 cups) 320 calories
Fresh Fruit (1 cup) 120 calories

Lunch:
Starchy Vegetable (2 cups) 320 calories
Legumes (1/2 cup) 120 calories
Veggies (2 cups of salad, soup and/or steamed veggies) 100 calories
Fruit (1 serving) 60 calories

Dinner:
Starchy Vegetable (2 cups) 320 calories
Legumes (1/2 cup) 120 calories
Veggies (2 cups of salad, soup and/or steamed veggies) 100 calories
Fruit (1 serving) 60 calories

Thats 12 servings of Starchy Veggies/Whole Grains and 960 calories

Thats 3 servings of Legumes and 240 calories

Thats 8 servings of veggies and 200 calories
Thats 4 servings of fruit and 240 calories

thats 12 servings of fruits and veggies but only 1640 calories.

Of course, you could adjust the fruits, veggies, starchy veggies, etc up or down somewhat to fit your own preference, but the end results would be fairly similar.

And for those who want, add in a serving of nuts/seeds or avocado and that's another 175 calories and you are at ~1800 calories.
Not bad! And simple and easy.

BTW, those are also some fairly large sized and filling meals. :)

In Health
Jeff

PS when neighbors, friends and families ask me how many servings of fresh fruits veggies, starchy veggies, intact whole grains and legumes they should eat or feed to their children, my answer is always the same ...

....as much as you can.


Just a note:

The above "example" was provided only as an example of what a day "might" look like when following a "starch based" diet with the addition of fruits and vegetable and also achieve the recommendations of at least "5-9" fruits & veggies a day. If you were to follow it, that would be OK & as I mentioned, it is a lot of food for not many calories. But do not feel obligated to follow it to the "T".

It is only an example and as I also mentioend....

Of course, you could adjust the fruits, veggies, starchy veggies, etc up or down somewhat to fit your own preference, but the end results would be fairly similar.

If smaller more frequent meals work better for you, then split the numbers up into smaller meals. If 2 or 3 larger meals work for you, so be it.

My guidelines (in general) are..

1) "Eat when you are hungry (from the recommended healthy foods) untill you are comfortably full. Don't starve yourself & don't stuff yourself.

2) when hungry again, see guideline #1 ;)

We are more likely to overeat if we eat when we are not hungry. Our satiety mechanisms work much better when we eat when hungry, making it much harder to overeat. Looks at kids who have not been corrupted by junk food. When they are hungry... watch out. But just try & get them to eat when they are not. ;)

Also, hunger (not starvation) has also been asociated with increased cognitive functioning, increased memory & an increased sense of well being. Perhaps it is a built-in survival mechansim as we would have needed sharper mental functioning in relation to finding food and remembering where we found it, when hungry.

There used to be an old saying, "full stomach, empty head".

The earlier work on frequent meal consumption (in regard to blood sugar, cholesterol etc) has never really worked out. Recent work out of the CRON studies has shown benefit in reduced meal frequency and intermittant fasting, though this may not be for everyone.

However, the bottom line is to do what works for you within the context of the general guidelines & principles. So, if small frequent meals works for you, and makes following the plan easier, then please folllow it.

In Health,
Jeff
Last edited by JeffN on Sun Aug 03, 2008 7:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Clairembart » Sun Aug 03, 2008 7:16 am

Thank you all for another really great thread!

The starch centered idea may be my solution to remain healthy and active during the harsh winter we have around here. I usually end up adding animal foods on a daily basis in the winter because I get too cold and my level of physical activities (cross-country skiing and hiking mostly) is too demanding. I don't mind small quantities of occasional animal products in my diet but everyday is too much for me. Last time I tried to remain vegan in the winter I was eating lots of nuts plus avocados and various vegetable oils for extra calories from fats. It did not work. Now I am thinking that focusing on starch rich foods might be a much better approach.

I'll let you know in few months when it starts snowing. I love winter when I feel strong and warm but it is miserable if I feel weak and depleted.

At this time I feel very energetic on McDougall diet and went for a vigorous mountain hike of 20 kilometers (+- 12 miles) yesterday without feeling tired at all. Wonderful! I live at the foot of a small mountain which is also a protected Natural Reservation. I feel very privileged to have all the energy I need to hike this little jewel.
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Re: Plant based diet vs starch based diet

Postby Clary » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:59 am

A plant-based diet is not necessarily a starch-based diet.

A person could be eating foods 100% from plant sources without eating starches. Dr. McDougall defines his "diet" as "A starch-centered diet with the addition of fruits and vegetables, with no added oils; and with moderate exercise."

If one chooses to follow Dr. McDougall's plan, daily meals are centered around starches.
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