3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, Simple, Brilliant and Powerful
"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...
Published on April 5 2004 by David Spero
3.0 out of 5 stars Questionable research for addicts only
Here's the thing -- if you go on this diet your life will probably be better. But it is very extreme. The basic research was done on alcoholic men, so its application to non addicts and women is problematic. DesMaisons recommends an extreme diet of no simple sugars... except the title food, weirdly enough, potatoes, the simplest carbo of all and one that diabetics are...
Published on Oct 12 2001
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, Simple, Brilliant and Powerful,
This review is from: Potatoes Not Prozac: A Natural Seven-Step Dietary Plan to Stabililize the Level of Sugar in Your Blood, Control Your Cravings and Lost Weight, and Recognize How Foods affe (Hardcover)"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
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.
"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 wwwdotdavidsperoRNdotcom
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peace of Mind,
This review is from: Potatoes Not Prozac: A Natural Seven-Step Plan to: Control Your Cravings and Lose Weight Recognize How Foods Affect the Way You Feel Stabilize the Level of Sugar in Your Blood (Paperback)Glucose is critical to mental clarity, mood states and the controlled release of energy in the body.
"While we think of sugar as a food, it is actually a drug-an external substance acting throughout the brain and body on cellular receptors designed for an internal chemical called glucose."
There are people who are very sensitive to sugar. If your body responds to sugars and certain carbohydrates adversely, you could notice a huge change in your moods. A sugar sensitivity can turn a person into Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It is like having two different people living inside your body. You can be completely depressed one moment and have high confidence the next.
Some of the symptoms might include:
This book is about analyzing your behaviour and it will help you decide if you are sugar sensitive. There are charts, diagrams of brain chemistry, Lists for how to feel great, Lists of clues for Imbalance and Balance, Notes on keeping a food journal, ideas for Breakfast,
The Contents Include:
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
If you are sugar sensitive, try Stevia! I love the taste and instead of putting sugar in your coffee/tea, Stevia works just as well as a flavor enhancer.
If your moods are ruining your peace of mind, you might want
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is Your Sweet Tooth Causing You Grief?,
This review is from: Potatoes Not Prozac: Solutions for Sugar Sensitivity (Paperback)This book is for anyone who's never met a dessert they didn't like, or at least one they couldn't walk away from. DesMaisons proposes a sensible, long-term solution to the craziness and upheaval that sugar dependency causes. If you're looking for a quick fix this book is not for you. However, if you are looking for a way to gradually and permanently change your life, you should read this book. The author outlines in seven steps how to gradually wean yourself off refined carbohydrates and sugar. Her attitude is humane, realistic and tolerant of mistakes, slip ups and allows anyone who wants to follow this programme. It is highly inspirational, long on specifics and short on platitudes. Highly recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars apply with caution,
By A Customer
This review is from: Potatoes Not Prozac: A Natural Seven-Step Plan to: Control Your Cravings and Lose Weight Recognize How Foods Affect the Way You Feel Stabilize the Level of Sugar in Your Blood (Paperback)Great book. I foolheartedly jumped in and eliminated all white stuff (pasta, white bread, candy, cake, etc.) AND de-caffed at the same time. I felt really spacey for the first two weeks but durring that time I would also have energy highs I never remember having before in my life! Then everything evened out and I haven't had a spike up or down in over three months. My moods are quite even and my energy level remains high but even. Best of all, I lost close to twenty pounds going from somewhere in the low 190s to 172 this morning. The first rule I ditched was the "Eat only three times a day" rule. I learned that I absolutely have to eat six to eight times a day to keep my insulin levels even. So be forewarned that this rule my not be a good one for you. At the same time, bare in mind though that I lost twenty pounds even WITH all the meals. Good Luck!
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book Has Helped Change 34 Years Of Disorded Eating!,
By A Customer
This review is from: Potatoes Not Prozac: A Natural Seven-Step Plan to: Control Your Cravings and Lose Weight Recognize How Foods Affect the Way You Feel Stabilize the Level of Sugar in Your Blood (Paperback)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.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good start to a healthy way of living....,
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.
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and interesting,
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, Too Inclusive,
First, golden/white/baking potatoes are NOT a healthy bedtime snack. Their fiber to carb ratio is way too low, and there are many other slow release carbs that are better for the purpose of activating trytophan. I suspect that she uses them partly just to have a catchy title for her book. Thankfully, she does not spend too much time focusing on the potato. Besides the potato anomaly, her diet advice is on target and insightful.
Second, her charts on symptoms of sugar sensitivity are much too inclusive. By her account, almost everyone I know is a sugar sensitive person, and that is simply not true. It has a certain feel that I can only compare to a fortune teller, telling you things that are so broad and vague you will undoubtedly feel they apply to you. And she removes a little too much personal responsibility. She even has a section titled, "It's not your fault." That's exactly what I like my diet books telling me. It's my alcoholic father and sugar-addicted mother; it's not me stuffing my face with sweets. However, body image is a very sensitive issue for people, especially people who, like me, experienced childhood as an overweight kid. So, maybe she needs to use these gentle methods.
Of course, I think that I might be less sugar sensitive than some people reading this book. I have successfully used the Atkins for rapid weight loss, and I am currently living by a slightly personalized Sugar Busters model.
Part of my disappointment with this book was my own expectations. I was looking for a book that told me the details of how sugar/carbohydrates affect neurotransmitters. She does cover this topic fairly well, but she does so in a generalizing and summary manner.
This book is great for sugar sensitive people looking for an eating plan and change of lifestyle. However, if you already are familiar with the working of simple carbohydrates on blood sugar and are looking for a more detailed explanation on the interaction of simple carbohydrates and brain chemistry/neurotransmitters, I suggest that you look elsewhere.
4.0 out of 5 stars Usually tired and depressed? You may see yourself here.,
I'm skeptical of books like this one, even when they explain the "science" behind their claims, as this one does. But the proof, as this author might say, is in the sugar-free pudding. I met the author's self-diagnostic criteria for sugar sensitivity, and decided to give the plan a try. The author is adamant that you follow her plan exactly, but I have not done that. I'm following all the steps, but in an order that makes more sense to me. As the author predicts, by eating protein at (almost)every meal, cutting out obvious sugars, and favoring brown stuff over white stuff, I feel remarkably better. It's not like I'm suddenly Mr. Cheerful or have a ton of energy, but I'm able to take on the day much better and my mood remains pretty even all the time. I welcome these changes! So does my family.
4.0 out of 5 stars Carb-sensitive sufferer,
By A Customer
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Potatoes Not Prozac: Solutions for Sugar Sensitivity by Kathleen DesMaisons (Paperback - Jan 1 2008)
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