“Potatoes not Prozac” is a seven-step program developed by Kathleen DesMaisons as a nutrition-based approach to overcoming sugar sensitivity and addiction. The plan was conceptualized from her personal experiences as well as her work as a rehabilitation therapist. The seven steps of the program are built on each other and progression to the next step is based on mastery of the previous step.
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In 2008 an article was published in “Neuroscience of Biobehavioral Reviews” documenting evidence of the potential for humans to develop sugar addictions. Avena, et al., notes that sugar acts much like opioids, painkillers including morphine and heroin, in the brain. The article also notes reports of food cravings and withdrawal effects of high-carbohydrate foods. Dr. DesMaisons’ eating plan aims to balance blood sugar and brain chemicals to help control cravings that can lead to bingeing.
The Radiant Recovery Website, an Internet-based community dedicated to healing sugar sensitivity, provides the following tips to ensure success: Complete one step at a time in the recommended order. The site says if the steps are not followed in sequence, not only will recovery not occur, but you could end up feeling worse. The steps are designed to stabilize biochemical functions involved in sugar sensitivity.
The steps of the recovery program are: 1) Eat breakfast that includes protein and a complex carbohydrate within an hour of waking up every day; 2) Keep a food journal that includes the date and time, what you ate and drank, how you feel both physically and emotionally to aid in determining how food impacts you feel; 3) Eat three meals a day at regular intervals that provide an adequate amount of protein; 4) Increase serotonin naturally by taking recommended vitamins and eating a potato before bed; 5) Shift from eating white foods like white flour products, rice and pasta to whole grain or brown foods such as whole grains, beans and root foods; 6) Reduce or eliminate sugars; and 7) come alive by finding a place of calm where you no longer have to live in drama and learn new skills.
Consume the right amount of protein for your body size to ensure proper recovery, according to “Potatoes not Prozac.” Protein provides tryptophan, an amino acid required by the brain to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that aids in impulse control and relaxation. To calculate protein needs, Dr. DesMaisons suggests dividing your weight in pounds in half to determine the grams of total protein you need daily. About a third should be consumed at each meal. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, you need 90 grams of protein. Consume 30 grams at each meal.
The “flagship of the program” is consuming a potato every night before bedtime. The potato helps raise serotonin levels. Potatoes also provide a satiety effect, helping you feel fuller and offer an “emotional comfort.” Potatoes can be baked, mashed or roasted. Consume any type of potato including sweet, russet, Yukon gold or Russian fingerling. You can top the potato with anything except foods that contain protein as the protein along with the potato at bedtime could interfere with your serotonin-making process.