How Sweet Potatoes Led to My 90-Pound Weight Loss


By: , – Jamie Berube, SparkPeople member
  :  111 comments   :  367,646 Views

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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  • 111
    Fun. Thanks for sharing. - 1/13/2018   1:53:14 PM
  • 110
    Thanks you for the suggestions. - 1/5/2018   8:58:13 PM
  • 109
    YES!!! I eat Sweet Potatoes all the time. Awesome - 1/4/2018   4:24:09 PM
  • 108
    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. - 12/5/2017   12:12:47 PM
  • 107
    I dont like them wish I did now - 11/19/2017   8:01:33 PM
    Love sweet potatoes! - 10/2/2017   8:34:50 AM
  • 105
    I wish I liked sweet potatoes. They are the one vegetable I don't like. - 9/8/2017   12:38:25 AM
  • 104
    You are definitely onto to something here. I wish more folks are more sweet potatoes! - 8/28/2017   8:07:52 AM
  • 103
    yum - 7/16/2017   8:08:48 AM
  • 102
    Very interesting - 6/10/2017   7:28:01 AM
  • 101
    CONGRATULATIONS - 6/9/2017   1:49:47 PM
  • 100
    great job! - 3/29/2017   7:59:13 PM
    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!

    - 2/18/2017   7:02:15 PM
  • 98
    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. - 12/17/2016   8:52:47 AM
  • 97
    Sweet potatoes are the gateway vegetable :) - 2/15/2015   9:08:17 AM
  • 96
    I love my sweet potato with Fage yogurt. I use the yogurt like sour cream. Fantastic! - 1/31/2015   12:44:57 PM
  • 95
    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.' - 6/11/2014   1:55:48 PM
    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!! - 5/6/2014   6:47:37 PM
    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. - 3/12/2014   4:21:10 AM
  • 92
    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. - 11/20/2013   10:42:03 AM
    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. - 10/14/2013   5:11:16 AM
  • IRISH4987
    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. - 9/24/2013   12:29:37 PM
  • 89
    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!! - 9/11/2013   7:55:55 AM
  • 88
    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 ;) - 12/2/2012   2:59:32 AM
  • 350POUNDS
    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 - 8/29/2011   12:01:59 PM
  • 86
    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! - 8/28/2011   11:02:10 PM
  • 85
    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.
    - 8/28/2011   8:56:53 PM
  • 84
    sweet p's r so healthy and good :D - 8/28/2011   3:06:55 PM
  • 83
    What great ideas! This one's going in my "favorites". - 8/27/2011   7:51:07 PM
    Yum yum for sweet potatoes. Don't forget to eat the skin. It's loaded with nutrients and helps to fill you up. - 8/27/2011   7:24:29 AM
  • 101POODLES
    What a creative way to get your "sweets"..I'm so glad you shared that.. - 8/26/2011   8:50:44 PM
  • 80
    I just finished dinner with a serving of sweet potato fries. They are so good (at a fraction of the calories) and they taste sweet to me, so they satisfy my sweet cravings! Your blog caught my eye! Well said and yummy to eat. Good thing I've already eaten or you'd have made me hungry!! - 8/26/2011   8:32:44 PM
    I like mine with a little kick - onion powder and chili powder or ancho powder or cayenne... YUM! When I eat it sweet, I then crave sweets. Gotta go savory for me. - 8/12/2011   4:13:40 PM
  • 78
    Congrats! and Yum! - 8/9/2011   8:46:59 PM
    Wow, thanks for all the great ideas to get more veggies into my daily diet. I really like sweet potatoes too. - 8/9/2011   5:27:07 AM
    I love sweet potatoes with cinnamon and butter it is sooooo good. I will eat them more often now that I know it can help me with my weight. - 7/31/2011   9:52:02 PM
  • 75
    I love baked sweet potatoes. I cook them in the microwave for 20 minutes for a meal. I always cook extra so if I need a quick snack. I like them with a dab of
    vegatable spread and lots of cimmamon.
    I am glad to see others enjoy sweet potatoes. - 7/31/2011   7:33:34 PM
  • 74
    Love sweet potatoes, but I never Thought of eating them every day. I may have to do just that to keep my wicked sweet tooth (teeth) at bay.

    Do you have a Trader Joe's? They now have sweet potato tortilla chips. I've been eating my serving size with 2 Tbsp of guacamole dip. Yum, but no where near as good as a sweet potato out of the micro with maple syrup on top. FYI: the chips have sweet potato powder in them. - 7/31/2011   11:48:35 AM
  • 73
    This is a fresh idea for me. My husband has always loved sweet potatoes. Me...good old-fashioned baked potato girl. I'm gonna pick up some sweet potatoes (and yogurt) and try them microwaved. Nice blog entry! - 7/31/2011   6:27:39 AM
    I bake them in the microwave put a little I Can't believe its not butter light and cinnamon on them. - 7/30/2011   10:46:00 PM
  • 71
    I microwave mine, mash them a bit and pour a bit of milk and brown sugar on top. Yummy! - 7/30/2011   7:14:18 PM
    I love sweet potatoes I tried eating sweet potato chips and now my whole family likes them - 7/29/2011   10:18:51 PM
  • 69
    I recently discovered I like to eat them raw!! Personally, I hate them cooked so I was pleased to be able to add this valuable vegetable to my food plan. - 7/29/2011   8:04:37 PM
    I do not add anything sweet to sweet potatoes. I either have them plain or with a tsp. of spread. - 7/29/2011   1:23:16 PM
    I got lots of recipes from this blog. I copied them & then pasted on Word so I could print them out. Thank you for getting this one started. - 7/29/2011   11:52:28 AM
  • 66
    My newly discovered favourite is boiled edamame with sea salt. I'm not sure I've ever had a sweet potato. Now I have another new item to add to the grocery list. Thanks. - 7/29/2011   2:48:22 AM
    yum its the next thing on my list have to try some new way to fix them there are so many ways to fix them. thanks for the reminding. - 7/29/2011   1:19:52 AM
  • MARCIE1455
    Sounds good to me! I plan to pick up some tomorrow! - 7/29/2011   12:09:10 AM
    I ate my first baked sweet potato last Monday. I really enjoyed it and will certainly add it to my veggie list. - 7/28/2011   11:08:28 PM
  • 62
    I am not fond of sweet potatoes, but I know they are so good for us. When I make mashed white potatoes, I cook and mash in a couple of sweet potatoes. the taste is reduced, and I still benefit from the goodness in them. I have tried sweet potato fries, and don't care for them either. - 7/28/2011   9:30:18 PM

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