How Sweet Potatoes Led to My 90-Pound Weight Loss

By , Jamie Berube, SparkPeople member
Confession: I've eaten a sweet potato almost every day for the past four years.
I eat them roasted and dipped in BBQ sauce or baked and topped with cinnamon and maple syrup, to which my husband says: "Syrup on sweet potatoes? You're so weird."
Even after two years of marriage he still thinks it's crazy.
My mom's sweet potato casserole at Thanksgiving dinner was my favorite. I could easily put away three or four servings. That's how I fell in love with them. The way my mother cooked sweet potato casserole can't be rivaled. Brown sugar and butter, marshmallows and pecans, these are things I believe heaven will be made of. Hopefully paired with sweet potatoes.

Now, I don't only like or eat sweet potatoes, exclusively. I love any type of vegetable.

But it hasn't always been this way.

As a freshman in college, French fries and pizza took precedence over veggies on my dinner plate. I ballooned to 230 pounds, which I disguised with dark, baggy clothes.
I waged war against my unhealthy lifestyle the summer before my sophomore year.
I started to exercise and eliminate the big 'F's' from my diet: fast food and fried food.  
It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but the payoff was sweet. Over the course of a year, I dropped 90 pounds.
Three years later, and I've kept the pounds off. I owe this to healthy lifestyle habits like exercise and portion control--and eating a sweet potato almost every day, of course.
 I used to hate vegetables unless they were drowning in butter or gravy, but as I began to lose weight, I had to learn to make them taste good without the fatty toppings.
The first vegetable I experimented with was sweet potatoes.
It didn't require any dicing or seasoning, I just popped one in the microwave and when it was done, sliced it open and sprinkled cinnamon over the fluffy orange flesh. I took my first bite and thought, "this needs butter...a lot of butter." I craved the extra fat because that's what my body had been used to eating.
If I was going to lose weight, I had to reteach myself how and what to eat which meant gradually weaning myself off of excess fat and sugar.
 In return, I began to crave healthy foods like fruits and veggies. (Learn the magical cooking technique that will get you to love veggies--and take the learn to love veggies challenge!)
But the produce section at the store can be a scary place for a formerly overweight college kid. The best way for me to make nice with vegetables was to incorporate them into every day, healthy meals, which was tastier and easier than I expected. I gave my go-to comfort foods like pizza and casseroles healthy makeovers by bulking them up with colorful veggies.

I always try to have a bag of spinach on hand for this reason.  I can hardly taste a handful of it blended into a smoothie, cooked into an omelet, or thrown on a sandwich. It's cheap and rich with nutrients.
Dishes like quiches, stir-fry, and couscous taste better to me with the addition of extra veggies like asparagus, mushrooms, and onion. A stir-fry gives me room to be creative and toss in veggies I'm not used to cooking, like bean sprouts and water chestnuts.
And on busy weeknights, I'll boil a pot of pasta and stir broccoli and peppers in with the tomato sauce, topped off with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. It's an easy, satisfying meal that I can feel good about.
I also love to roast vegetables in the oven with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and simple salt and pepper. If I roast a side of string beans or asparagus, I'll serve them with ketchup or BBQ sauce and eat them with my fingers like French fries.

Because I have a big appetite, "bulking" up my meals with yummy veggies ensures I'll be satisfied while still maintaining a healthy weight.  
It's crazy to think there was a time in my life when I regularly ate cake and calzones with no regard for nutrition or my weight. If you would have told my past, size 22 self, about who I would become today, I'd have laughed. I never thought I could get healthy and stay healthy. It was a fantasy I never imagined would someday become my reality, but thanks to learning how to cook and love my veggies, it has become my reality.
And in some way, I owe it all to my beloved sweet potato, my favorite veggie of them all. I don't care how crazy my husband thinks it is. I love them.

And it's a love affair I hope will never end.
About the author: I am a recent transplant to Southern California where I work as a social worker and freelance writer. I married a relentless Chicago Cubs fan and love of my life almost two years ago in Florida, where I grew up, before I became a California girl. I enjoy reading, writing, running, vegetarianism, funfetti cake and Forrest Gump. I truly believe in giving peace a chance.

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PATRICIAAK 9/10/2019
:) Report
BONNIE1552 9/9/2019
I love them, but probably not to eat every day - unless as fries, lol. Report
DRAGONFLY631 6/14/2019
Thanks for sharing Report
AALLEY2 4/18/2019
Great info, thanks for sharing. I'll for sure check out your links. Report
MSROZZIE 3/31/2019
Great blog! Well done, well said. I love sweet potatoes. YUMMY! Report
GETULLY 3/3/2019
great plans!
BUDDHAWOMAN0 2/24/2019
I will have to try this.. Report
SPINECCO 1/26/2019
Good information. Report
KHALIA2 11/28/2018
Congratulations and great job! Report
KHALIA2 11/19/2018
I love baked sweet potato fries. Report
Thanks for a great article. I love sweet potatoes every way I've ever had them. We used to always grow our own sweet potatoes and they would keep through most of the winter. One lady I knew would bake several of them at a time and then freeze them. My mom tried them that way and said they were really good. It saves a lot of baking time, and you can have several on hand whenever you want one in a hurry. Report
sweet potatoes are my go to whenever possible. Report
I, too, love Sweet Potatoes and even eat them raw as a chewy snack. HOWEVER !!!
Too few consumers are aware of a product called "bud nip" which is a chemical grown right into your sweet potato to keep it from sprouting during marketing processes. You may not be able to get a straight answer from your public market, but the potato itself will tell you if it's full of bud nip. Simply cut an end, put it in a shallow dish with the cut end down and watch to see if it sprouts. If it doesn't chances are that it's loaded with bud nip and who wants to eat something that keeps other living things from thriving ???? NOT ME !!!! Watch out. Report
LOVE sweet potatoes! I like to scrub them (really well) cut them up and roast them with a LOT of garlic and red pepper sprinkled on top. I eat the skin too! Baked is also good. I save them as an occasional treat, but I can certainly understand why you love them! Report
I no longer consume sweet potatoes but love Pumpkin. Congratulations on your success! Report
Fall & Winter, I can about live on sweet potatoes. Try them with sesame oil, soy sauce & ginger or with a Thai Peanut sauce, or just cooked with sliced apples. Like Winter Squash, they're just so versatile. They make good sweet potato salad in warm weather too!
Interesting. Report
I grow sweet potatoes in our garden, often there are skinny ones when I harvest, I use these for french fries. Report
Great article Report
Congratulations on your maintenance. Report
Sweet potato, cream cheese, and taco seasoning? I may try that today. Report
I too was raised with sweet potato cassarole on holidays and had syrup on them as well.....tell your hubby its more common than he thinks......where has he been? but since i have copd and am now older, could never lose weight eating them statue of limitation for exercise is none now i have lung disease but i need to lose 100 lbs to just live! Report
Fun. Thanks for sharing. Report
Thanks you for the suggestions. Report
YES!!! I eat Sweet Potatoes all the time. Awesome Report
I started eating one a day on 11/28/17 and it noticed it is satisfying, I can eat less through out the day and my skin seems to be healthier. Thanks for this great article that inspired me. Report
I dont like them wish I did now Report
Love sweet potatoes! Report
I wish I liked sweet potatoes. They are the one vegetable I don't like. Report
You are definitely onto to something here. I wish more folks are more sweet potatoes! Report
Very interesting Report
great job! Report
Great article. You should read about the Murapin—a population who subsisted almost entirely on sweet potatoes and were in excellent health:

Congrats on your weight-loss journey! I used to weigh 230 too!

I am headed to the grocer for some sweet potatoes. I had a temporary crown put in and trying to eat soft on one side is not easy. I love sweet potatoes and had forgotten all about them. saved my week. Report
Sweet potatoes are the gateway vegetable :) Report
I love my sweet potato with Fage yogurt. I use the yogurt like sour cream. Fantastic! Report
I've read this blog before, and I find it inspiring. If I can eat a potato and still lose life is good! This is doable. One problem - this 'Chicago Cubs' issue. You see I live in Illinois, 10 mins from downtown St. Louis. Go Cards!!

Thanks for taking the time to write this. I read it when I 'need it.' Report
A sincere thank you for this post!! We are California Sweet Potato Growers and appreciate all the good things you have to say about sweet potatoes!! Report
Wow sweet potatoes are my grandma's favorite and I really like them a lot. Thanks for the info, now I can ask grandma to make one of her sweet potatoes dessert. Now I can eat them without any fears of gaining weight, as so I have thought they are carbs prior to reading this. Report
IRISH4987 and BELLRETIRED, I strongly recommend picking up a copy of Clean Eating magazine or visiting their website. They have 2 week meal plans (organized by season) that are meant for 1 person, and they even have weekly shopping lists for 1. The recipes are either reused later in the week, or are easily freezed. I've done a couple months worth of their plans over the past year and found it really great. It even gives me great ideas for when I'm not following them. Report
Dear Irish4987 I am with you. I have a hard time cooking for one also. Even the recipes for "cooking for two" still have servings for 4, 8 or 10. It is so hard to scale that down especially when they call for an egg. How the heck are you supposed to divide an egg in half? Basically what I do is follow the idea of the recipe not just the ingredients. Sometimes I just omit the egg or I use a spoonful of applesauce. I know that sound crazy, but try it. The egg is really there to bind the other ingredients. You can also try those eggs in the carton. I don't know where you live, but I'm in Ontario Canada and we can buy liquid eggs in a carton (pint size). I watch a cooking show with host Michael Smith. He is wonderful, cute as all get out and he is 6'3". Just a hunk of gorgeous. Anyway his philosophy is cooking without a recipe. He teaches method over ingredients. If you like how it tastes then that is your recipe. But once again I do agree that cooking for 1 or 2 is a BIG challenge. Report
I need to learn to cook for one but receipes for eight are not for me. I am not good at cutting down a receipe without
something going arye. Any tips are appreciated. Report
I never used to like sweet potatoes since my mother used to grow them in her own garden and had to be part of our breakfast every morning. But ever since I came to the knowledge of their health benefits, they have now become my companion. I like mine boiled then I eat them with mashed avocados...Yummy!! Report
I guarantee if you ate a stone-roasted japanese sweet potato (ishi yaki imo - 石焼き芋) you could eat them completely unadulterated. They are the sweetest, creamiest, most awesome vegetable i've ever put in my mouth. Japanese sweet potatoes have a purple skin with a very light yellow inside. Probably hard to find stateside, but worth looking up ;) Report
I love sweet potates. I've included in my way of healthy eating. I'm down 51lbs and still losing. I started at 350.8 lbs and now weigh 299lbs. My overall goal is 160lbs of fat loss. You can also check out my blog at Report
I ate a sweet potato for dinner tonight. My fats for the day were low so I had a pat of butter and 2 tsp of brown sugar. Super Yummy! Report
Loved this article! I, too, love sweet potatoes but am not sure I could eat them every day. I have loved all vegetables since a child and can't understand why others don't. Wonder when and why writer became a vegetarian.