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Potatoes Not Prozac: A Natural Seven-Step Dietary Plan to Stabilize the Level of Sugar in Your Blood, Control Your Cravings and Lose Weight, and Recognize How Foods Affect the Way You Feel

by Kathleen DesMaisons, published by 1999-01-12 (Simon & Schuster)

Buy now from Amazon.com for $14.00
Amazon rating of 4.5 out of 5, Amazon sales rank: 11399

Editor's Review:

The same brain chemicals that are altered by antidepressant drugs are also affected by the foods we eat. According to addiction expert DesMaisons, many people, including those who are depressed, are "sugar sensitive." Eating sweets gives them a temporary emotional boost, which leads to a craving for still more sweets. The best way to keep these brain chemicals in the right balance and keep blood-sugar levels steady, she says, is through the dietary plan she describes in Potatoes Not Prozac. Her rules are fairly simple--eat three meals a day, eat proteins with every meal (especially those high in the amino acid tryptophan, which creates the calming neurotransmitter serotonin), and eat more complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and, yes, potatoes. Not only will this make you less depressed, DesMaisons says, but it will also keep you from craving too much of the foods you shouldn't eat, making it a self-regulating system.

Can't say no to fattening foods, alcohol or compulsive behaviors?

You're not lazy, self-indulgent or undisciplined; you may be one of the millions of people who are sugar sensitive. Many people who suffer from sugar sensitivity don't even know it; they continue to consume large quantities of sweets, breads, pasta or alcohol. These foods can trigger feelings of exhaustion and low self-esteem, yet their biochemical impact makes sugar-sensitive people crave them even more. This vicious cycle can continue for years, leaving sufferers overweight, fatigued, depressed and sometimes alcoholic.

Now there is a solution: in Potatoes Not Prozac Dr. Kathleen DesMaisons gives you the tools you need to overcome sugar dependency, with self-tests to determine your sugar sensitivity as well as an easy-to-follow, drug-free program with a customized diet high in protein and complex carbohydrates. Join the thousands of people who have successfully healed their addiction to sugar, lost weight and attained maximum health and well-being by using Dr. DesMaisons's innovative plan.

Reader Reviews:

Interesting ideas about the relationship between sugar, addiction, and mood. Promotes a sensible diet with proteins and carbohydrates eaten at certain times in order to regulate blood sugar and manipulate seritonin and beta-endorphin in the system. Ideas are good, writing only mediocre. Overuses superlatives: "stunning, floored, thrilled, etc."I am sugar sensitive and after almost thirty years of struggling to keep my life on some kind of track, Kathleens book saved me from it all. I can't rave about this program enough, I have since directed many people to her webpage and books. If you get depressed or suffer any addictive tendancies, this is for you. And if it sounds to good to be true, don't worry you won't be disappointed. I don't know where I would be now without this knowledge, I live a life of joy from a life of misery, all because of someones insight and work. Thank you Kathleen,like the thousands you've helped - I owe you my life as I know it.
I have always battled with eating sweets. I struggled with eating sweets between meals and right after eating a meal - even though I was full. I used to eat cake and cookies for breakfast and lunch. My favorite part of a meal was dessert! For the first time in my life, I actually am not craving sugary sweets after most of my meals. I am only on step 2 of this book, but I am already experiencing some wonderful and freeing changes! This book pointed out that I don't have to snack between meals - because it will encourage me to "graze" throughout the day and it's true. I have been able to actually not snack (most of the time) between meals and experience true hunger when it's time to eat (as long as it doesn't exceed 5 hours). Not grazing has helped me a lot.

Though I am only on step 2 (read the book and you'll see why), I am already cutting down the white stuff - bread, pasta, rice and replacing it with brown. I had some strawberries for a dessert the other day and actually enjoyed them without sugar. That's the first time I ever did that. I used to coat them in sugar. I usually do not like water, but am learning to sip on it between meals and it is helping me not snack as it gives me a little feeling of something in my belly. I am also tasting food better and fuller now.

The only time I struggle with binging on sweets is when I'm lonely or anxious! That's when it's tough and sometimes I give in. The good news is, it is easier for me to get back on track after I've "messed up." I still crave the sweets because I have "primed the pump" by having sugar. However, because I was in a daily habit of lowering my sugar intake, it was easier to get back on track.

This is a very gradual book. She doesn't push you into anything and encourages you to take your time even if you are at a step for several months (like me). But I can testify that even though I have been at step 2 for 2 months now, I am making progress.

Sugar was my friend and I couldn't go through this process until I was ready to refine my relationship with it. But when I was ready, this was the book to see me through. Give it a shot, you may experience a transformed way of life and eating that you've never known."Potatoes not Prozac" is a cutesy name for a truly wonderful book that will help millions of people heal their bodies and their lives. Her concept of "sugar sensitivity" and her 7-step treatment plan will enable readers to understand and recover from addiction to foods, drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. People who have failed repeatedly at sobriety or weight loss can succeed with this plan, as thousands have already.

Kathleen des Maisons learned about the importance of sugar through her work as a drug and alcohol treatment counselor. She was having the usual low success rate in helping people stay off alcohol. Then she discovered how certain foods lead to addiction to alcohol and drugs, as well as being addictive themselves.

She found that nearly all alcoholics lived largely on pasta, white breads and sweet things. She knew what they were suffering. Her own father drank himself to death at age 51, and she herself weighed 240 pounds and had had problems with drinking. When she discovered the benefits of a diet high in protein and vegetables for herself, she started using it with her clients. Her success rates soared, even with the hardest cases.

She realized that addictive behavior has a lot to do with food, and that sugar was the primary culprit. She believes that some people are born "sugar-sensitive," which means they don't have enough serotonin or beta-endorphin in their brains. Serotonin and beta-endorphin make us feel secure, stable, confident, cheerful. If you have low levels of these chemicals, you are likely to feel badly.

Sugar and alcohol raise your serotonin and beta-endorphin levels. So they make you feel better and more energetic, especially if your levels were low to start with. Unfortunately, eating concentrated sugars or refined carbohydrates causes a rebound effect. Your sugars levels drop quickly, you feel worse than before, and you need more sugar, caffeine or alcohol to pick back up.

Pretty soon you're addicted. You feel alternately great and miserable. The sugar swings stress your adrenal glands. You blame yourself for being out of control and unfocused, for putting on weight or drinking, but actually it's the sugar. It's a physical problem, although emotions do play a part.

Getting off sugar is difficult. Our food supply is awash in sugars and simple carbs. They can't be avoided. Des Maisons gives us a practical strategy based on 12-step recovery programs. Her seven steps are
1. Keep a food journal every day
2. Eat three meals a day at regular intervals
3. Take Vitamin C, B complex, and zinc
4. Eat enough protein at each meal
5. Move from simple to complex carbohydrates, or from "white foods" to "brown" and "green" foods. "Brown" refers to things like whole grains and beans. "Green" means vegetables, of whatever color.
6. Reduce or eliminate sugars (including alcohol)
7. Create a plan for maintenance.

She doesn't spell out a diet or recommend a lot of supplements or medications. She says that, using her steps, each person can figure out for herself what is best for her body to eat. She wants you to go through the 7 steps slowly, not to get impatient and rush ahead. The idea is to build a better relationship with your body and with food, to learn how food relates to your physical and emotional feelings.

Des Maisons writes with a compassion that comes from living with sugar addiction herself. Chapter 3 is called, "It's Not Your Fault." (I also use that title in my book, "The Art of Getting Well: Maximizing Health When You Have a Chronic Illness.") Her plan is based on "abundance, not deprivation." This means you focus more on adding good things (foods, exercise, prayer, pleasure etc), rather than giving things up. She keeps telling us to be gentle with ourselves, to focus on "progress, not perfection." She also has a great sense of humor and an apparent affection for potatoes.

"Potatoes not Prozac" also gives a very clear explanation of the biochemistry of addiction. She explains how serotonin and beta-endorphin are produced, get to the brain, and are regulated there, and how our food affects all those processes. She cites more than 50 studies in support of her ideas, although most of them are animal studies.

I disagree with Des Maisons on a couple of points. I don't think sugar-sensitivity is all in your genes. Your early environment, including the environment in your mother's uterus, makes a big difference. Also, I'm pretty sure that too much stress or too sugary a diet at any time in your life can create sugar-sensitivity or something very much like it.

I would have liked to see more on why, where, and how to get help. She mentions the need for support several times, but doesn't give much specific advice on finding it or asking for it. Reading The Art of Getting Well or Cheri Register's "The Chronic Illness Experience" will give you those skills. I also would have liked to see more on exercise. Des Maisons pretty much just says, "go do it!" Hopefully, that will be good enough for you, because physical activity is just as important as diet change, in my experience.

But these are small complaints. The author's brilliant insights into sugar and addiction, her clear explanations of difficult concepts, her simple but effective treatment plan, and her generous and positive spirit make this book a treasure that can help with a wide variety of health and life issues. It's wonderful.

David Spero RN wwwdotdavidsperoRNdotcomPOTATOES NOT PROZAC is a great book as far as I am concerned because it nicely compliments THE INSULIN RESISTANCE DIET that I have been following for more than a year. DesMaisons is an expert in addiction nutrition, and she has much to say about sugar. Her book provides a good deal of `technical' information about how sugar interacts with bodily functions and produces unwanted feelings- both physical and emotional. You may get a high from a sugar "hit" but it's sure to be followed by a letdown. In addition, over the long haul, you are likely to find your body is not behaving well. DesMaisons uses the analogy of the fire fighter who is called out night after night and is finally so exhausted he cannot perform.

I particularly like the "Impact" indexes DesMaisons has developed for white, brown, and green foods. She ranks cereals (Cheerios may not be so bad after all), fruits (forget raisons), and vegetables (can you really become addicted to carrots?). These lists are not exhaustive - for example I missed grapefruit and okra, but they are a beginning guide.

One shortcoming of the book is the dearth of examples regarding appropriate food combinations. She does say to avoid combining protein (dairy, such as a nice glass of milk) with that baked potato you are supposed to eat before bed. I can't eat a baked potato without milk (besides it produces perfect protein). Her point though, is that to produce serotonin in the brain, you need to ingest something with complex carbohydrates (sugar) that will work on the protein you ate earlier in the evening. She offers substitutes for the potato such as oatmeal which will go down nicely with butter and a dash of brown sugar.

DesMaisons offers a seven-step plan that includes eating three meals a day. She admits further on in her book that she knows eating three meals a day is impossible for some people. It sure is for me. I eat breakfast at my desk at 6:30 a.m. (yogurt and fruit) and I don't eat lunch until 1:30 p.m. I need that mid-morning snack of celery and peanut butter. She says snacks can be okay, but they should not be full of sugar.
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