Battling with Weight and Health Issues, She Discovers the Potato Diet

Monday Jun 12 | BY |
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Cooking Vegetable: Potato, Carrot, Beet, Zucchini, Onion, Cabbag

One of my readers, Lindsey, recently shared with me how she used the “Potato Diet” to win her battle with weight gain and several health problems.

What is your current diet?

My current diet is:

  • Nothing but all varieties of white potatoes – Gold, red, russet; any sweet potato
  • 2-3 fruits a day (mostly just apples and oranges for convenience)
  • Some raw vegetables (carrots, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, green smoothies).

I use salt to taste on the surface of my food – I try to keep it minimal as possible. I don’t ever need to add salt to the sweet potatoes. I steam all my potatoes in the Instant Pot, but in the past, I would bake, boil, and roast the white potatoes. I also regularly eat organic oil-free frozen hash browns and roasted potatoes. I use small amounts of fat-free condiments to taste like mustard, hot sauce, salsa, ketchup, organic barbecue sauce, etc.

I have a list of holidays, birthdays, and vacation time that I wrote at the beginning of this year – those are the only times I allow myself to not be on this diet. On those days, I eat whatever I want (staying within vegan bounds and not overdoing it on fat or refined foods). I do this to make the diet sustainable. I just make sure I have a plan to get right back on.

How did you transition to this “potato diet?”

I have been a vegan for almost ten years, and over time my food has gotten healthier and healthier – less processed stuff, less oil, and fat. I have had a weight problem for almost my entire life, and becoming vegan did nothing for it (but I didn’t become vegan for health reasons).

I do believe going vegan at least helped me stop the continual gaining of weight, but it did nothing to help me lose, so I kept searching for the best way to lose weight as a vegan. On every diet I tried, I was either very hungry and would give up. Or, I wouldn’t lose much at all and would give up, or it was extremely impractical and expensive (same goes with all the nonvegan diets I tried in the past).

I tried traditional calorie-counting, getting a lot of exercise without changing diet, Dr. Barnard’s plan, Dr. Fuhrman’s plan, high fat/protein vegan (which brought back the chest pains I would sometimes have before becoming vegan), 80/10/10, Raw till 4 (that one made me gain weight – not cool!! – that’s the last thing an obese person needs), Starch Solution (with flour products allowed), and others.

Dr. McDougall was the last “famous” plant-based doctor whose work I got into. Man, I wish I would have understood that he held the key more than anyone else.

The Starch Solution and then The McDougall Maximum Weight Loss Plan were life-changing books for me! I became elated when I realized I could live off white potatoes alone, and they were the opposite of fattening!

This was the key to my lifelong food addiction. Potatoes are the most filling food; nothing is as satisfying as a potato to me.

I was so sick of counting calories, planning meals, preparing meals; I was so tired of being obsessed with and devoting so much of my time toward food.

The fewer decisions I had to make about food the better.

If you have an addictive brain around food, the best thing you can do is put yourself on autopilot, so you do not have to make many decisions.

What are the benefits of a potato diet?

Never, ever having to think about what I eat or shop for – the time and mental energy it frees up is HUGE. The health benefits are amazing (see below).

Besides potatoes, what else do you eat?

Right now for the past couple months, my daily food has almost always been 1 – 1.5 medium or large steamed sweet potatoes mixed with a diced apple and cinnamon for breakfast.

For lunch, I have oil-free, potato hash brown with salt and hot sauce to taste.

In the afternoon, I have roasted dandelion root tea as “coffee” (Republic of Tea brand is excellent with the vanilla they add to it).

Green tea is the highest caffeine level I allow myself on this diet.

For dinner, I have raw vegetables, steamed then mashed white potatoes with fat-free gravy for dinner, and apple for dessert.

How many potatoes are we talking about?

I started with maybe 5-6 pounds of white potatoes every day. Now I eat maybe 3-4 lbs. of a mix of white and sweet potatoes. Somedays it could probably be cut down to two pounds like on the days my hunger seems almost nonexistent.

Have your food expenses also gone down?

Yes! Probably by about half. And compared to my food bills when I would eat at restaurants more often, the expenses are about 75% less. And they continue to go down because my body requires less and less food since it can properly use the glucose in my blood.

How is your health on the potato diet, compared to before?

Amazingly better.

When I became vegan, I felt a little better than as a nonvegan and had some more potentially severe health issues go away, but this is hugely different, and my diet wasn’t even that bad, to begin with before starting potatoes.

I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, insulin resistance, PCOS in the past, so my energy was extremely low for quite a few years, and that is also the deadliest combination to fight when trying to lose weight.

I used to even be on thyroid medicine years ago and had weaned myself off it – I sure am glad I did because potatoes work far better for that than Synthroid ever did with the anxiety, racing heart, and other scary symptoms it gave me (this is just my experience, can’t speak for others of course).

I have dealt with insulin resistance for a long time, and I think I’m finally experiencing what it’s like to have a normal appetite – meaning having hunger for the appropriate amount of food required to maintain the ideal weight for my height – for the first time in my life.) I am also finding myself more and more satisfied with fewer condiments for taste, so that makes the expenses go down as well over time.

On the potatoes, I have plenty of energy to get through the day. I sleep so much better – breathe easier at night.

My nails are stronger than ever. Far less hair shedding.

My teeth never hurt, and they feel stronger.

Digestion is perfect – never any discomfort or acid reflux like I would get often, even from stuff like brown rice.

The female system works with minimal to no pain.

I experienced quite a bit of relief from depression. I also had motivation to start cleaning my house more and do other physical activities.

I require less sleep. I am on-call for work over night, and I can wake up very quickly and not feel groggy at all in the middle of the night.

I rarely feel mentally worn out at work. My muscles are stronger with doing no extra exercise or strength training; they are just easier to engage, like when going upstairs, for example.

I have lost over 40 pounds with no calorie counting or hunger whatsoever. Most of those pounds were lost on filling up to the brim on white potatoes – including things like oil-free baked fries with plenty of ketchup.

Even after just a few days on the diet with so much weight to lose still, I suddenly had so much energy that it felt like I didn’t have any weight to lose because I could move so much more quickly and easily. It was like the extra 100 pounds were not there at all except when looking in the mirror.

It’s like I mentally became a thin person. I get less and less hungry over time. Most diets you get hungrier and hungrier as time goes on.

This is nothing short of a miracle, as I have been addicted to food/food-obsessed for literally as long as I can remember. I have battled with my weight since middle school – over 20 years ago.

I was always so very hungry all the time pre-potato diet – I believe it’s because my cells weren’t getting the glucose they needed and were screaming to me to keep eating.

I had always been on a higher fat diet – standard American with a healthy-ish slant as a kid, moderate fat vegan for the past 10 years.

Even on low-fat vegan though, I would eat past my appetite because there were still too many tempting, calorie-dense foods like pasta, so I would lose no weight.

On potatoes, my cells can now get plenty of glucose, and again, it is a miracle how little hunger I feel, and when I do get hungry, it is a quiet feeling, not very urgent.

I have been reading about nutrition and weight loss for decades, and this diet is truly my holy grail.

Do you miss anything?

The only thing I struggle with occasionally is a brain that sometimes screams for coffee or a little treat – like a couple of vegan cookies – but the difference is I have no exhaustion or physical hunger whatsoever so I am able to recognize it for what it is – years and years of mental conditioning to expect a treat, especially on a weekend afternoon.

Since those kinds of cravings have no physical basis, I am able to grin and bear it until it passes because I know it’s just temporary. The longer I go on just potatoes, the less my brain throws a fit. But anytime I stop for a few days and restart, I have to go through this fit-throwing phase again.

Any suggestions for people who would like to try it out?

Eat as much as you’re hungry for – don’t let yourself go hungry.

Eventually, you’ll be able to eat less.

Once you adjust, start adding in more raw vegetables – especially greens – for maximum health.

I first tried the potato diet as a ten-day experiment. If you don’t want to commit just yet, try this out, and you will be amazed at how much your health will improve in that short time.

It seems there is a turning point at the fifth day where you start feeling good.

If you are a food addict (and this could happen to a lot of people who are on a highly palatable diet – pretty much everyone not in the health world), your brain’s dopamine receptors might be screaming at you for a few days, but they will adjust after about five days.

Persist and power through. It is ridiculously easy to keep going after ten days. My longest stretch is 39 consecutive days, and it only got easier and easier with time to maintain the diet.

Thank you very much, Fred, for wanting to hear my story! I hope it helps anyone you share it with.

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.

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7 COMMENTS ON THIS POST

  1. This is a really interesting article and I’m glad Lindsey got great results in energy return and some relief from weight gain from this simple diet. Congratulations!

    The biggest challenge I am aware of in recommending a potato diet is not taking into consideration food sensitivities. A large number of people have Nightshade allergies and potatoes for them are a nightmare in inflammatory response. We must clarify that sweet potatoes and yams are not in the Nightshade family and yet many folks with a Nightshade allergy or intolerance can’t tolerate them either.

    As one who helps people discern their food sensitivities from both an energetic and physical vantage point, I’ve seen “miracles” when people stick to foods they are in resonance with, eat proper ratios that are in balance with their body and address their emotional/thought issues in conjunction.

    I’ve found that radiant health isn’t acquired by following a certain “labeled” diet (High Raw, Vegan, Paleo, Ketogenic…) but rather in knowing what foods you came to this plane innately in resonance with and staying away from the things not in resonance with one’s unique body. The diet that comes closest to meeting that criteria for someone is the one that will give them the best results. This is why there is such variance in results when people go on certain diets.

    The importance of identifying Food Sensitivities and why certain diets work and some are complete failures for a person is a subject worth discussing in more depth.

    Cindy Kerr RN
    The Health Diviner LLC
    Radiant Health by Divine Design™
    Encinitas, CA

  2. Maryann says:

    What is the vegan gravy they were using on their potato?

  3. Tim says:

    Fascinating interview!

    I haven’t tried a diet as high in potatoes as Lindsey’s, but about 4 months ago, wanting to lose that last 10 pounds, I started eating a strict McDougall diet including lots and lots of potatoes. I have lost 12 pounds in 4 months, effortlessly as Lindsey says of her high potato approach. I have never felt hungry and love the foods I eat. It has worked great for me. She’s right – McDougall’s approaches are very effective.

    As in an earlier comment, I would like the gravy recipe. Is it Mary McDougall’s Golden Mushroom Gravy?

  4. There are many following the potato diet now, especially since Andrew Taylor (of Spud Fit) did a full yr of nothing but potatoes and healed so many issues, and also lost over 100 lbs. His story was all over the news. I know of many who are doing this now and are seeing great results.

    I wonder how I might contact Lindsey?

    I also have hashi’s as well as Type 1 Diab and did the potato diet for a wk and loved it.

    Thanks for sharing this story!

  5. Lois says:

    Thank you for this article. I have had similar experiences and I appreciate that someone wrote about it.

  6. Kym says:

    I’m just curious, where does she get protein from? Doesn’t the body need protein, especially with all that glucose.

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