Food: Daikon or Turnip rather than potatoes?

matthew's picture

So, I'm in Day Two of my low-carbohydrate diet. Trying to make sure that I get multivitamins, and have a good mix of veggies to keep me healthy. I'm really trying to avoid the diabetes that seems to traditionally afflict my family, and from the diabetic community, this seems to be a really sure-fire winner. It involves lifelong diet changes, though, which may be hard, but as for the weight-loss and diabetes-avoidance aspects, I only have two words to say: Cool stuff!

One thing I've really missed, though, is potatoes. One poster on the newsgroup suggested using daikon for hash browns rather than potates. One also suggested that Turnips work really well, but you have to soak them in water plus a little cream for about 20 minutes before cooking them.

Going to have to try it! Apparently the Daikon is only 1 to 2 grams of carbs per serving, while turnips are around 3 to 4 carbs per serving. Time to get creative...


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Timpane's picture

Dietary changes

Okay, as someone studying to enter the medical field, I would be careful about a few things in your new diet.

One.. multivitamins are only about 50% effective, and can actually cause blockages, so be sure to take them with a lot of water, and if possible, take organic ones, this increases their effectiveness and makes them less likely to block stuff up.

Two.. be careful that you get enough potassium, enough calcium, and for goodness sakes, enough fiber. The fiber thing in particular is important, as it is instrumental in cleaning out those pipes.

Three.. as you might guess, I'm not a big fan of the low-carb diet, especially since it is so hard to adhere to and since a lot of people gain the weight right back after. Be sure to have an exit strategy and build in ways to keep your diet balanced (following those FDA guidelines is not a bad idea)

Ultimately, what it comes down to is the amount of calories in vs. the amount of calories out. The low carb diet isn't rocket science, since carbs contribute so many calories, and we don't even think about it. People are surprised how many calries are in bread, cereal, sugar, potatoes and rice, and even veggies like corn. My big (55 lb.) weight loss came from focusing on building a diet I could live with long term, and then adjusting it to maintain my weight.

Also important is to weigh yourself daily, know the calorie amount in pretty much everything you eat, and focus on moving in the right direction. For me, I weighed myself every day before i went to bed and when I got up, got a baseline, and then started to adjust things as I needed to progress.

I managed to get my calorie count down to 1200 (from about 2500) a day, keep a balanced diet, and still enjoy almost everything I loved. Thats how I took the journey from 220 to 165 (my high school weight) and then stayed there for three years.


Timpane's picture

Related funny!!

Hey.. this is a real story on yahoo news about how the low carb diet is affecting the Baking world.

(please link here:
Baker Blues

EDIT by matthew: So let it be edited, so let it be done.


matthew's picture

Low-Carb vs. traditional dieting

Really, Justin, I'm not into the low-carb thing primarily for the weight loss. I'm drinking 64-96oz. of water per day (a low-potassium risk in itself, which I have to compensate for), lots and lots of cruciferous vegetables including lettuce, kale, broccoli, celery, etc. The multivitamins are simply a preventative measure, since I think I, like most people, have a few vitamin deficiencies regardless of what I eat. The biggest problems is making sure I have sufficient potassium that I can feel confident picking up my exercise regimen again. The FDA limits potassium supplments to 99mg (only 3% of the daily allowance), because low potassium is inconvenient (muscle cramps), while high potassium is fatal (heart failure).

I was beginning to exhibit a few diabetic symptoms (frequent urination, sugar cravings, radical mood and energy swings, headaches & nausea when I ate too much sugar, etc.) I'm fairly comfortable with my weight now, though as always I'd like it to be lower by at least 40 lbs. But the principal reason for me to do this is to avoid Type II diabetes, frequently diagnosed in my family by middle age.

Luke III: "My father has it. I have it. And... my sister has it..."

Obviously, for the short-term I'm focussing on the weight loss because it's fun watching pounds peel off, and I'm being totally sensible about it. I'm a little bit concerned that I won't be getting enough potassium from my diet, particularly since I'm not a fan of much red meat which is a primary source for low-carbers.

I was a huge believer in "calories are calories are calories" before I started low-carb. I've changed my tune a little. I've dropped a few pounds already, and I'm eating 2400-3300 calories a day. At my weight and height, even sedentary I'm burning about 2600-2900 calories a day. Counting up what I've been eating, I'm still in that range, yet losing weight rather rapidly.

The interesting thing about being in ketosis (a totally safe state of "fat cells releasing stuff", versus ketoacidosis, which is an often-fatal diabetic condition) where your liver is converting proteins and fats to brain and body-usable sugars is that it only does it at around 58% efficiency. Doesn't mean you can eat twice the calories, but what seems to result is that you lose weight due to fewer calories being in digestible form by your body (the remaining 42% are unusable, and generally end up in your urine). I've done a ton of reading about this to make sure I approached it with caution for the side-effects. Obviously, the plural of anecdote is not "data", but from many anecdotes, and the few studies regarding low-carb currently available, it generally causes high blood pressure to drop, irritable bowel symptoms to ease (of which I'm a sufferer), cholesterol to self-regulate, and a lot of other beneficial changes. Could be that the good results are simply due to a more sensible diet, than strictly the low-carb thing, but the health benefits, particularly for pre-diabetics and diabetics, are convincing to me -- particularly now that I'm into it, and am experiencing some of the secondary benefits of losing my insulin dependence first-hand.

The curious thing for me is how easy it is to adhere to a sensible low-carb diet. It's a habit I need to develop for the rest of my life; it's still early, but so far it's going swimmingly :) And I don't create any "forbidden foods"... everything is OK, but I just need to go in realizing that if I eat a particular food, I'll put on some pounds in liver carb storage and fat weight that I may need to go on a week or two of "induction" (very low-carb eating) to lose. No problem, as long as that occasional high-carb treat doesn't turn into a tradition.

I've been accustomed to weighing myself daily for years now, first thing every morning. I know how my weight fluctuates, and have kept it consistently under 240 by just watching what I eat, and reducing for a few days if I approach that line too closely. I even have a little "eat watch" program in my Palm Pilot that tells me exactly how much or few calories I've been eating based on my daily weight. It's really helpful to see the trends, and adjust when the line starts to creep upwards.

I think low-carbing is definitely not for everybody! Only in certain circumstances (hyperinsulinsm) is a really good way to go; based on the available reading, I think I fit in the category of people it helps the most pretty well. And so far, the results are really promising. Sugar cravings are entirely gone, as is (most) of my desire for between-meal snacking. I'm visiting the bathroom on a schedule that seems pretty normal, with pretty normal flow, and my energy levels are far more consistent and high. So far, I'm impressed. And I'm eating my veggies ;)

Matthew P. Barnson

Matthew P. Barnson

matthew's picture


I had the daikon as hash browns this morning. I used a recipe some people had praised. My daikon was mildly bitter, and the lack of starches prevented it from getting "crunchy" like good hash browns are on the outside. Palatable, but not quite ideal from where I sit. I think I'll try a few more dishes with this particular radish, buy one more (much smaller) in hopes it won't have the bitter flavor, and then if I still don't like it much, forget that particular food.

White or red radishes soaked in water and cream for an hour or so are supposedly pretty good, too, so I'll have to give them a try as pretend browns.

Matthew P. Barnson

Matthew P. Barnson


Potassium is good for you. Too little (hypokalemia)can cause Hyperglycemia (bad for diabetics) and electrical heart changes, but too much can actually stimulate diahrrea, irritability, and of course, good old cardiac standstill.

Consult your MD for further questions.

Turnip Fries

This alternative to potatoes is wonderful. On Blaire's Low Carb Kitchen on, he has a good recipe for "Boardwalk Fries". Its very good.

The boardwalk fries Blaine

The boardwalk fries Blaine Jelus made on FitTv are excellent.
My daikon had a bit of bitterness at first too, but I'm willing to put up with a little bitterness if it will keep me thin while eating "fries", lol.
Try sprinkling a little splenda on the fries before you fry them.
Turnips are a great substitute as well, but yes, they have to be soaked and cooked a little longer.

Cauliflower is great as a mashed potato substitute.
I've been low carbing for YEARS and there is nothing difficult about following this diet.
I initially lost about 80 lbs. and have kept if off for going on FIVE years now.

Good luck to you. :)