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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sweet p's r so healthy and good :D Report
What great ideas! This one's going in my "favorites". Report
Yum yum for sweet potatoes. Don't forget to eat the skin. It's loaded with nutrients and helps to fill you up. Report
What a creative way to get your "sweets"..I'm so glad you shared that.. Report
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!! Report
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. Report
Congrats! and Yum! Report
Wow, thanks for all the great ideas to get more veggies into my daily diet. I really like sweet potatoes too. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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! Report
I bake them in the microwave put a little I Can't believe its not butter light and cinnamon on them. Report
I microwave mine, mash them a bit and pour a bit of milk and brown sugar on top. Yummy! Report
I love sweet potatoes I tried eating sweet potato chips and now my whole family likes them Report
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. Report
I do not add anything sweet to sweet potatoes. I either have them plain or with a tsp. of spread. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
Sounds good to me! I plan to pick up some tomorrow! Report
I ate my first baked sweet potato last Monday. I really enjoyed it and will certainly add it to my veggie list. Report
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. Report
mmm...sweet potatoes. I like them in the microwave with some low fat yogurt on top. My family loves them roasted in the oven with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Yum! Report
Great blog, Jamie! I will have to get to the store...exactly what others are saying, I know. Even my sons, who are home for the summer, have decided they like sweet potato fries so I can incorporate those into our family meals-if I bake them in the oven! Thanks so much for sharing. I needed a boost in the veggie department. And, you are certainly quite an inspiration! Keep up the great work! :) Report
Yeah for Sweet Potatoes! We love them too!. Report
Love Sweet Potatoes; I'm glade there is some one else who uses cinnamon on them.
I also like to bake them with olive oil and italian seasoning, and a small amount of Romano Cheese. YUM
Try making a microwave sweet potato and then mash it with plain greek yogurt and brown sugar. Lots of protein!! Report
Congrats on your weight loss, but even more on your maintenance! That's always been my biggest challenge. I just rediscovered sweet potatoes, quartered, drizzled lightly with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, sprinkled with Mrs. Dash's seasoning (I like the Lemon Pepper), wrapped in an aluminum foil 'pouch' and grilled for about 30 min. on medium heat :0) It's the highlight of my grilled feast now as the EVOO 'caramelizes' & combined with the seasoning is a truly amazing addition to my meal! Thanks for your post! Report
It is great to hear how you understood it was a process, and how one change you made led to another! Great job. Report
I too am a lover of sweet potatoes. I do not add sweetener. Oganic sweet potatoes are usually sweet enough. Congratulations on your weight loss! Report
I'm right there w you. If I had to live on one food for the rest of my life it wd definitely be sweet potatoes! I've been making a potatoe salad w half white and half sweet potatoes. I add veggies...asparagus, red onion, celery, frozen peas and the dressing is mustard and apple cider vinegar. I'm a vegan so no mayo. I have gotten so many compliments...also try frozen corn and/or black beans. It's def been a huge hit. Report
I bake sweet potatoes and put honey on top when I serve. Much more flavor than white potatoes - love 'em! Now, to tackle other veggies... Report
I love sweet potatoes (yams) and I love butter!!! Thank you for writing this... I will be picking up some yams later this morning and teaching myself to love them without butter... I think if you can do it, so can I 8^) Report
The healthy food that has helped me is bagged, shredded cole slaw cabbage. I eat at least a cup most every day. Usually I put it in a mini chopper to make it smaller and easier to eat. Then add chopped tomato, onion, mushroom and whatever other veggies I have on hand for a good salad. Dressing is fat free Italian so few calories there as well. If I have precooked chicken, turkey or pork on hand I'll toss that in and have a full meal in a bowl. It takes a while to eat, which is good, so when the bowl is empty I am usually satisfied. I used to eat the cabbage slaw cooked with canned tomatoes, veggies and meat but found it gave me gas so had to stop. I have convinced my husband that raw cabbage is a good thing and he'll have a salad with me once a week or so. If I mix it in with lettuce he's more willing. Congrats to Jamie for her loss and maintanence! She has inspired me to try more recipes with sweet potatoes. Meg Report
You make it sound so easy! Congrats on the weight loss. Try putting salsa on yur sweet potato, no calories there either. Maybe there is hope for me Report
Sweet potatoes and funfetti cake are where it's at! Congrats on losing all that weight and keeping it off. :-) Report
Congratulations on your weight loss and maintenance! I LOVED this blog. It reminded me that a sweet potato started me on the road to 30+ lb loss (still have more to go but I am well on my way) but I've been neglecting my veggies and especially my sweet potatoes. Time to head to the store and load up! Thanks! Report
Did you know that Sweet Potatoes are a Super food for a Diabetic? Who would of thought that something "sweet" is good for us?? I like to mash some cooked Sweet Potatoes, and mix in egg beaters, vanilla, soymilk, and splenda. Then mix a packet of instant low sugar maple oatmeal and a little bit of light butter, and cinnamon. Sprinkle it over the top of the sweet potatoe mix, and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 min or until top is nice and brown, and filling is cooked. Simply delicious, I even have eaten this for dessert, with a little bit of cool whip lite on the top!!! Report
Yay sweetp potatoes!! :) Good job on all your hard work!! Report
Great blog!! I really enjoyed reading it and agree with you 100%! Go veggies and Sweet potatoes rule! Congrats on your awesome weight loss.. Report
Way to go - sweet potatoes ARE fantastic and delicious! Report
Good for you 90 lbs! Way to go. I too love a sweet potato ANY way they are fixed. Though I do try to keep them smiple as they are naturally good! Report
Another sweet potato lover here and am so happy that they are now easier to get here in Germany. Just made a big batch of Enchilada Soup (spark recipe) that uses sweet potatoes as a base. Very yummy, but I agree that the best way is just baked with a drizzle of olive oil or a sprinkle of cinnamon. Report
I love sweet potatoes, too. And I cook them in the microwave - where I do almost all my cooking - I'm big on steamed vegetables from the micro.

But I never thought to put either cinnamon or maple syrup on them! (Usually use I Can't Believe it's not Butter), I'm looking forward to trying your ideas! Thanks so much for sharing! Report
Since sweet potatoes are already sweet I either eat them without anything or add some cinnamon on top if I am at home. Report
Try them boiled with white potatoes (both with their skins on) and then mashed with sandwhich tuna, a little tomato paste and some basil, then fry them in minimal oil. Finish with tomato sauce/ketchup ........ yummm! Report
I have Insulin Resistance/Metabolic Syndrome, so I have to stay away from carbs.
Glad u lost the 90#. Report
I like my sweet potatoes baked or microwaved with cinnamon and nutmeg only, sometimes alittle olive oil when I need some moisture. I am a vegetable lover already. Congrats. on your weight loss. Report
So glad to see so many people who love sweet potatoes as much as I do! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog :) Report