After a year of eating nothing but potatoes, an Australian man says he is almost 115 pounds lighter and feeling healthier and happier, even as nutritionists warn against trying a similar mono diet.
Andrew Taylor of Melbourne began his “Spud Fit” challenge in January, when he weighed 334 pounds. Now at 220 pounds, Taylor said his extreme eating plan was never intended to be a weight-loss program, but rather a way to break his addiction to food.
“My relationship with food has totally changed to the point where I now see food as fuel rather than a means for emotional support, comfort and enjoyment,” Taylor told TODAY.
“A very welcome side effect is that so far I've lost 114 pounds in the process, too.”
Taylor said has had medical supervision, including regular blood tests, throughout the year. His cholesterol has improved and his blood-sugar levels, blood pressure and other health indicators are good, he explained. He feels “totally amazing,” noting he no longer has problems with clinical depression and anxiety, sleeps better, feels more energetic and is physically stronger.
After almost a year of eating only potatoes, Taylor doesn’t miss any particular food — but if pressed, he’d say mangoes. To make his cravings for other foods go away in the beginning, he would tell himself: "You can eat whatever you like, after you eat a big plate of potatoes." After doing just that, his cravings were always gone.
Taylor is now planning a “Graduation Party” on January 1, 2017, that will feature him eating his first non-potato meal in a year live on Australian TV. From then on, he plans to eat a plant-based diet of comprised of whole foods like fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains, while still skipping cheese, cream, eggs, butter, oil and meat.
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Taylor’s rules for his year-long experiment are simple, as explained on his website:
• Only eat potatoes — any variety, including sweet potatoes. He does not count calories or limit himself to a certain amount of spuds. He eats as much as he likes, as often as he likes and does not allow himself to go hungry. He estimates he consumes about 8-9 pounds of potatoes a day.
• He uses minimal herbs, spices and fat-free sauces to add some flavor and he adds a bit of soy-milk when he prepares mashed potatoes.
• He does not use any oil or eat meat, cheese, eggs or dairy products. He believes "we've been lied to about oils" and their health benefits.
• He tries to exercise 90 minutes a day.
• His meals mostly consist of mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes or baked potatoes. That’s a lot of carbs, but as he explains in a recent video, one of the lessons he’s learned over the past year is: don’t fear carbs.
• The only supplement he takes is B12.
Mono diets, which involve eating only one food, concern nutritionists who note they don't provide the right balance of nutrients and can be potentially damaging to your health.
While potatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber, they are very low in protein, said NBC News Health and Nutrition Editor Madelyn Fernstrom. The body ends up taking the amino acids it needs to function from muscle, which is unhealthy, she added. A low-protein diet can impact brain chemistry, which uses amino acids from protein for normal function.
People do feel a sense of control when they are limiting variety in their diet, Fernstrom noted, which is the reason Taylor listed for going on his potato-only eating plan.
He said he accomplished the psychological changes he wanted within two months and from that point, he continued for the rest of the year because he said he would.
"This is not something I started to try to promote it to anyone else, it's just an experiment I've done for myself," Taylor said.
“I do think two weeks to a month of potatoes is a great way to reset our palates and our food psychology."