Is it possible to live healthily on a diet of potatoes? I decided to find out!
There has been a lot of publicity lately about Chris Voigt, head of the Washington State Potato Commission, who decided to disprove claims that potatoes are an unhealthy food by eating them – and nothing else – for 60 days. Being made of less stern stuff than Mr Voigt (and it is nearly Christmas, after all) I embarked on a seven day potato diet experiment.
(I called the Practice Nurse at my doctor’s surgery, who assured me that a week of potatoes would do me no harm.)
Chris Voigt was enthusiastic about his 60 day spud marathon. He lost 21lbs in weight and reported that his cholesterol and blood sugar readings were down, that he slept well and felt healthy and energetic throughout.
Would I too feel this good during my potato-only diet? Would I lose weight? Would my energy levels increase? These excerpts from the journal I kept during Potato Week will tell the whole story.
Day 1 – Wednesday
I feel excited about starting Potato Week. I like to find out for myself how things work, and how they affect me. I have a large baked potato for breakfast, and like Chris Voigt I use only a little salt and pepper to flavour it. I feel satisfied after eating, and don’t mind that the meal was a little bland. I’m sure I will soon get used to plainer food than I’m used to.
At 11.00am I am suddenly and ravenously hungry. Breakfast was less than 3 hours ago and I hoped it would carry me through to lunchtime. I have given up milk for the week, so have a cup of black tea, which doesn’t help. I have an early lunch of boiled potatoes with a little garlic salt.
Another baked potato during the afternoon, and dinner is left over boiled spuds, sliced and sautéed in a little olive oil.
I’m not hungry at bedtime, although I go to sleep thinking about scrambled eggs on toast and a proper cup of tea.
Day 2 – Thursday
I slept well last night and woke up feeling very, very hungry. I boil a huge pan of potatoes, both for breakfast and so that I will have plenty on hand during the day. Chris Voigt did not limit his numbers, and ate 20 potatoes a day, so I need to overcome the serial dieter’s reluctance to eat a large quantity of a food that we are often advised to limit. Today I decide to eat as much as I want, and over the course of the day that was a lot of potatoes.
I feel good about sticking to my spuds, but by evening I am experiencing some heartburn. I drink plenty of water and it passes off.
Day 3 – Friday
I was awake with indigestion several times last night. This morning I feel bloated, gassy and uncomfortable. Maybe I went overboard on quantity yesterday, although it was not supposed to matter how many potatoes I ate. I can’t face any breakfast, and although I start to feel hungry during the morning, I wait until lunchtime to have my first baked potato of the day. I have one more baked and some mashed today, eating considerably less than yesterday, but still have some heartburn this evening.
Day 4 – Saturday
I really want this week to be over. I’m determined to stick it out, but I am not feeling good. I have baked and boiled potatoes and some homemade hash browns today, not in any great quantity. I am hungry, but can’t face eating more. I feel tired and out of sorts.
Day 5 – Sunday
I had a horrible night. I am tired and need to sleep, but was awake half the night with indigestion. It has gone beyond heartburn now – I had acid reflux and woke up coughing and spluttering, with that disgusting, soapy taste in my mouth.
I am reluctant to abandon the experiment before the week is over but it’s obvious that a potato diet is not doing me any good at all. I decide that enough is enough. I need to be careful for the next few days and gently ease back into eating a mixed diet.
And so my potato experiment came to an end. I was sorry that I didn’t reach my seven day goal, but even so I think that the experience was an instructive one.
What do I think about potatoes now? Potatoes are an excellent food. They provide starch, fibre and some protein, and are a good source of Vitamin C and Potassium.
Did I lose weight? Yes I did. I lost 3lbs over the 4 days that I was eating potatoes. This is a good weight loss, but was it due to the potatoes I ate, or the days on which I ate little because of indigestion?
Did I have food cravings? Oh yes, I certainly did have cravings, but not for fatty or junk foods as might be expected. I thought about protein a lot and as the days went by I craved more and more for red meat.
Would I do this again? No, no, no.
I take my hat off to Chris Voigt, who ate only potatoes for 60 days and thrived on the experience, and yet perhaps his ability to live healthily on potatoes alone is down to his particular physical make-up. As far as diets are concerned – both for weight loss and for healthy eating – I think we have to concede that one plan does not suit all. My experiment has further convinced me that we should eat according our individual needs in order to achieve our best state of health.
According to the Blood Type Diet theory of Dr Peter D’Adamo, for example, the fact that I have Type O blood makes me suited to a high protein, low carbohydrate diet, and this is where my inclinations lead me. (For more information about this theory, follow the link at the bottom of the page to an article by BellaOnline’s Low Carb Editor.)
So, for me, it’s potatoes strictly in moderation from now on!