Foods belonging to the starches group contain carbohydrates[a1]  and some protein[a2] . Therefore, they have a direct impact direct on your blood glucose (sugar) levels, hence the importance of closely monitoring how much of them you eat.

The starches include:

  •  bread, breakfast cereals and crackers
  • pasta and other cooked grains (rice, barley, couscous, quinoa, etc.)
  • legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.)
  • specific vegetables (plantain, winter squashes, yams, corn, parsnip, sweet potatoes, green peas, regular potatoes, etc.).

Serving size

Here are two tips to help you quickly determine the serving size of your starches:

  1. A quarter (1/4) of your plate should be composed of starches.
  2. The size of your fist is the equivalent of about 250 ml (1 cup) of starches, or 30 to 45 g of carbohydrates, or two to three exchanges of starches based on the Diabetes Québec Exchange System[a3] .

By using the same dishes every day, you will gradually be able to judge the correct amount of starches without having to measure. Make use of reference points on your dishes: design elements, shape, the level reached in a bowl, etc.


Starches come in many forms: the flavours and ingredients used can vary widely. Moreover, for the same amount of carbohydrates, the impact on blood glucose levels can differ from one food to another. For example, the impact of rice on your blood glucose levels can differ depending on the type of rice, even when the amounts are identical.

Along with noting the results of your blood glucose tests, add comments about the meal. This can be useful in revealing the unexpected effects of specific foods on your blood glucose levels.

It is also important to read the labels of the different food products belonging to the starches group. A slice of Brand X bread might be the equivalent of one serving of starches (15 g of carbohydrates), whereas a slice of Brand Y bread might contain 20 g of carbohydrates. If you only eat one slice, the difference isn’t that big. But if you eat two slices, the 10 g difference in carbohydrates becomes significant.