My Paleo Eating Journal

The Sweet Potato Experiment

Posted on: July 3, 2011

Weekly Weigh In: 143.5 lbs

Thoughts: In a previous post I talked about the issue of potatoes and why a whole food (that – unlike grains – does not have to be highly processed to eat) would be considered verboten in any healthy diet.  I pointed out that Mark Sisson (from Mark’s Daily Apple, one of the foremost Paleo references on the Web) says potatoes can be part of a healthy Paleo diet, but with certain considerations. I recently found an article on the Paleo Diet Lifestyle site that questions the hate-on for potatoes, particularly white potatoes, found in some circles within the Paleo/Primal community. But the conclusions appear to be similar to those of Sisson: in moderation they can be part of a healthy diet. And here’s the same disclaimer, taken from the Paleo Diet Lifestyle article:

Those with a broken metabolism that isn’t insulin sensitive anymore might find it hard not to overeat starchy vegetables and might struggle to lose weight if they eat just a little too much of them. Those people often do better if they go on a lower carbohydrate diet for a while in order to heal and help their body learn to use fat as a source of energy. Some people might never be able to go on a higher carb diet, but most people end up being able to include healthy amounts of carbohydrates without problems after a while.

I had stated before that this was my plan. Regardless of what metabolic mechanism one thinks is underlying the problem, the fact was I could not eat starchy vegetables in anything close to moderation. A meal containing potatoes (or pasta, or rice) resulting in me overeating way beyond fullness (no satiety mechanism was kicking in) and then craving sugar a couple hours later. I’ve come a long way from those eating habits, and I have twice in the last 3 weeks indulged in small servings of roasted sweet potatoes (about 1/4 of a small sized spud) to go with my roast chicken and tossed salad dinner.

Two nights ago I decided to try my favourite meatloaf recipe, which calls for sweet potatoes cubed and mixed into the meat. I used half the amount I previously would, so that by my calculations my serving of meat loaf would contain approximately 1/4 of a sweet potato. When I ate it, I didn’t get what I now recognize as “that sugar high”, and in some ways it made the meal seem less enjoyable than before (even though I recognize what was unhealthy about the way I used to “enjoy” food). But I noticed something later that evening – I was craving something sweet! This hasn’t happened to me in a long time. We happened to have some 65% dark chocolate in the fridge (which has been sitting there for weeks now after my mother brought it on a visit and left it here). I had two pieces of that, which I was amused to find tasted quite sweet to me. I ate them faster than I do the 90% stuff, which I prefer to nibble and let melt in my  mouth. Apparently I ate more sweet potato than I thought in that meatloaf and the experience has made me cautious. I’m so aware now of the issue of craving sweets after a meal and I consider it an indication that my meal had too much sugar in it (or starchy carbs, in this case). For now, sweet potatoes will remain on my “rare indulgences” list (along with beer and cider).

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The Basics

My way of eating is based on a Paleo/Primal diet and is comprised mainly of saturated animal fat (grass-fed meat, pastured eggs, butter), nuts and seeds (almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, coconut, pumpkin seeds) and their oils (coconut oil, avocado oil) and lots of vegetables and fruit. I eat virtually no sugar (other than that contained naturally in fruit), potatoes or sweet potatoes, beans or legumes, and no grains or grain products.

Weight Loss Tracker

Start date: May 13, 2011
Total weight loss (updated every Sunday): 19.5 lbs

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