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Potato diet offers insights to executive director

by Lora Abcarian | November 21, 2010
Man may not be able to survive on bread alone. But Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission, is living proof that potatoes can largely fill the bill.

Mr. Voigt made a bold move Oct. 1, the day he committed to eating nothing but potatoes for the next 60 days. The purpose of the diet was to illustrate in real terms the nutritional value of potatoes. Taking weight and height into account, he determined his spud allotment should be 20 each day.

Nov. 4 marked day 35 for the stalwart Mr. Voigt. "Things are going really well," he told The Produce News. “I feel great — lots of energy, sleeping well at night, no weird side effects and just got back the results from my mid-point checkup. Potatoes are so filling that I've had a hard time getting enough calories in me.”

He was excited about the real-life benefits of potato consumption. “I’ve lost 14 pounds but have been really concentrating on eating all 20 potatoes a day now to maintain my new healthy weight,” he stated. “The potassium in the potato is helping my blood pressure stay in check, and the fiber has helped me reduce my cholesterol. I went from the borderline high number of 214 down to 162, a 52-point drop in 30 days. And I did all this without throwing my blood sugar all out of whack. Before I started the diet, my glucose level was at 104. Now it’s in the low 90s.”

He was asked if anything of an unexpected nature happened while on the diet. “Yes. While I knew the potato was really nutritious, I never considered that I would become healthier while on this diet — at least by the 30-day mark,” he replied. “I know this isn’t a sustainable diet. While it’s highly nutritious, there are still nutrients that I’m missing. When this diet ends, I just thought I’d go back to my regular eating routine, not that it was bad. But now I’m motivated to keep potatoes as a large part of my diet. But I’ll just include a lot of healthy toppings.”

Keeping things in perspective, he added a cautionary note. “There is no one food product that can meet all of your nutrition needs,” he commented. “So this is not a diet I’m recommending. This is just a bold statement to prove the potato can be included in healthy diets.”