Saturday, October 18, 2008

Book Review -- "Potatoes Not Prozac"

Potatoes Not Prozac by Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D. is an interesting book with a stupid name. First, you must know that the title does not fit this book. This book isn't about finding alternatives to taking anti-depressants, it's about stabilizing blood sugar as a means to overcoming compulsive eating patterns and sugar addiction.

DesMaisons does talk about how eating lots of carbs stimulates the production of serotonin and beta-endorphin. She also illustrates how those who are sugar sensitive (which includes alcoholics) often find themselves trying to balance the mixed up levels of serotonin and beta-endorphin within their bodies using sugar or refined carbohydrates.

DesMaisons uses the following example to determine general sugar sensitivity:
Imagine you come home and go into the kitchen. A plate of warm chocolate-chip cookies sits on the counter just out of the oven. Their smell hits you as you walk in. You do not feel hundry. No one else is around. What would you do?

A person who is not sensitive to sugar would not eat a cookie. But someone sensitive (or addicted) to sugar would definitely eat a cookie. And probably more than one.

I'm a sugar sensitive person who is in recovery. Unlike alcoholics who take recovery one day at a time, a recovering sugar addict must take life one choice at a time. A body can live without alcohol, but it can't live without food, and food choices are all around us.

Here are the seven steps that DesMaisons advocates in her book:
1. Keeping a food journal
2. Eating three meals a day at regular intervals
3. Taking vitamins as recommended
4. Eating the recommended amount of protein at each meal
5. Adjusting your carbohydrate intake to include more complex foods
6. Reducing or eliminating sugars (including alcohol)
7. Creating a plan for maintenance

I have been doing all but one of these steps as I've begun a lower-carb lifestyle. Prior to reading this book I hadn't been eating three meals a day. I'd been eating smaller meals and then having balanced snacks (meaning eating carbs in tandem with protein). DesMaison's reasoning behind only three balanced meals seems logical. If someone is already sensitive to sugar, eating three meals that include plenty of protein allows them to keep their blood sugar nice and level and minimizes the frequency of facing food temptations.

I've been trying it for the past five days and have found it helpful. The first couple of days were challenging as I figured out how much to eat at a meal in order to tide me over to the next one. But for the past three days I've really enjoyed this new way of eating. I'm finding it a lot easier to keep my net carbs low (under 100 grams) when I'm only eating three meals and not snacking. Plus, I'm not getting overly hungry and the afternoon slump I used to experience around 2 PM seems to be a thing of the past.

I also think that DesMaison's approach to limiting sugars is reasonable. She doesn't advocate eating no fruit or not eating starchy vegetables. Instead, she's all for eating whole-grain foods and fruits and vegetables with skins full of fiber. All in conjunction with adequate protein at each meal, which leads to slower digestion and steady blood sugar levels. This means that I can have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast along with a couple eggs. Yum!

If you're a sugar sensitive person who it trying to lose weight and regain health, I'd highly suggest you read Potatoes Not Prozac.


radiantkd said...

Hey! It is not a *stupid* title, LOL. It is a title in code....really, potaotes is hard enough, can you imagine if the word *addiction* was in the title!

It actually is about healing sugar sensitivity by changing what you eat - way, way more than stabilizing blood sugar.

If you want to know why you can't just say no, PnP teaches you. And then tells you how to heal that.

Suko said...

The seven steps sound like a good guide. There's much in (health) news today about stabilizing blood sugar and good health.

Flashlight Girl said...

I'm glad to hear you're feeling well and successful. I'm not sure that the choc chip cookie scenario is valid though. Seriously, the only person I know that wouldn't indulge in at least a nibble is my brother-in-law that hates chocolate. Besides, if you were gone, who made those cookies anyway? :)

Christie said...

Kathleen, Welcome! Yes, you're right about the title. I can see that now. BTW, this morning I shared your book with a friend who has struggled with alcohol addiction. I really think you're on to something. Thanks for publishing such a helpful tome!

Flashlight Girl, I'm with you. When I first read the cookie scenario I couldn't imagine someone not eating a cookie, but after a little thought I could think of a handful of people. Lucky them. Sigh.

Thanks to all of you for dropping in!

4in4 said...

Huge fan of PnP here, although it's worth nothing that the seven steps have changed very slightly in the new edition of the book, which I recommend. Also check out Kathleen's website and forum at