- Starches—or complex carbohydrates—include starchy vegetables, such as potato, corn, yam, beans, lentils, peas and whole grains. For example, whole-grain bread, oatmeal, and brown rice are high in fiber and rich in B vitamins, which are nutritional essentials. These carbs serve as important sources of energy for the body and are considered “good” carbs.
- Sugars include those naturally occurring (as in milk and fruit) and added (as in baked desserts). They’re best when kept to the naturally occurring kind taken in small amounts. All types of added sugar are considered “bad” carbs.
- Fiber comes from plants and is often from the same category as starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, carrots, celery, green beans, lettuce, and other salad greens, mushrooms, radishes, spinach, tomatoes, and zucchini, have fewer carbs than starchy vegetables and contain lots of fiber. Fiber is also abundant in some fruit, nuts and seeds.
- Fill half with non-starchy vegetables, such as salad, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and carrots.
- Fill one quarter with a lean protein, such as chicken, beans, tofu, or eggs.
- Fill a quarter with a grain or starchy food, such as potatoes, brown rice, or whole wheat pasta (or skip the starch altogether and double up on non-starchy veggies).