'I feel amazing': Melbourne dad embarks on year-long potato-only diet
Andrew Taylor is on a potato-only diet (Facebook/Spud Fit)
A stay-at-home father from Melbourne, Australia is on a year-long, potato-only diet – and so far, he says, he's lost more than 30 pounds, feels more energized and is happier.
Andrew Taylor says he's always struggled with his weight, but the goal of his diet isn't just to shed pounds.
Rather, the 36-year-old says he's aiming to change his "unhealthy relationship" with food.
"Towards the end of last year I had the realization that I was a 'food addict,'" Taylor said in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca from Melbourne. "I was unhappy with myself."
Taylor said he wanted to "retrain his brain" to change the way he thought about eating.
"If you're a drug addict or an alcohol addict the solution is to quit cold turkey. Obviously you can't do that with food. So my next thought was 'perhaps I can quit all food except one kind,'" he said.
Taylor went online and began researching, looking for a food that could provide him with a variety of nutrients.
He says he read peer-review studies, listened to talks and began following John McDougall, an American who promotes vegetarian eating. Taylor looked back in history, researching the traditional Irish diet, which relied heavily on potatoes.
By the end of his reading, he'd decided to eat only potatoes.
He started the diet on Jan. 1.
A potato pancake, made by Andrew Taylor (Facebook/Spud Fit)
How Taylor's diet works
Taylor is committed to only eating potatoes for all of 2016.
Since the beginning of January, he's had them boiled, baked, mashed with calcium-fortified soy milk, and drizzled with barbecue sauce. He's also shredded them to make potato rosti.
Taylor allows himself to use herbs, spices and sauces for flavour, and he eats both white and sweet potatoes. Oil for frying and fatty toppings such as butter, cheese or bacon are off limits, however.
Taylor doesn't count calories or limit himself to a certain amount of potatoes, but he does say he's felt less inclined to eat second or third helpings since starting his diet.
He's also taking vitamin B-12 supplements to make up for lost nutrients.
So far, Taylor says the most unexpected part of the diet is that he hasn't really missed other foods.
"This is the most surprising thing of all," he said. "In the first week I felt like eating something else but since then I honestly haven't missed (other food). I'm quite happy with my boring potato meals."
Sweet potato mash, made by Andrew Taylor (Facebook/Spud Fit)
The results so far
After more than 40 days of potato eating, Taylor says he feels happy and energized. He's lost more than 30 pounds and recently began exercising, he said.
"I feel amazing," he said. "I have better mental clarity, I'm sleeping better. There are all very welcome side effects."
Taylor said his personal doctor is monitoring his progress, and that he'll be getting regular blood tests to make sure he's staying healthy.
At the same time, Taylor said he isn't trying to sell anybody else on the limited diet.
"I just wanted to be really clear on one thing. I've been accused by a lot of people of trying to push a fad diet. I'm not trying to push this diet on anyone," he said. "If anyone wants to do what I'm doing then they should be doing their own research, consulting doctors and getting blood tests."
Andrew Taylor holds box of potatoes (Facebook/Spud Fit)
What the doctors say
Despite Taylor's enthusiasm, Canadian dietitians didn't endorse a single-food diet.
"There's no real single food that provides all the nutrients that we need, other than maybe human breast milk," said Jennifer Sygo, a dietitian and sports nutritionist at Toronto's Cleveland Clinic Canada.
Sygo said potatoes do provide some nutrients, but that you'd have to eat an unrealistic amount of spuds to get your recommended nutritional intake.
With supplements, it would be "possible" to go on a potato-only diet for a limited amount of time, Sygo said. However, she didn't recommend trying.
"That's a pretty imbalanced way of going about that," she said. "The bottom line for me is that a potato is not enough nutrition to supplement a person for life."
Rather, she encouraged dieters to consult with medical professionals.
"One of the things that dietitians work on is helping people feel comfortable so that they can eat a healthy and balanced diet without feeling that they're stuck in a world of food addiction," she said.
Valerie H. Taylor, the psychiatrist-in-chief at the Women's College Hospital in Toronto and an expert in obesity and mental health, doesn't recommend a potato-only diet either.
Taylor said the concept of "food addiction" itself is controversial in the medical community, but that there are some individuals who find a bland diet helps them control their eating.
However, Taylor said eating only one type of food isn't a healthy solution.
"It's not about just eating potatoes, it's about not using food as a coping strategy … I would say work with a health professional so you can learn some healthier coping strategies," she said.
"It's okay to eat chocolate cake every now and again."