Potatoes and Keto– A Second Helping!

Potatoes Free Stock Photo - Public Domain Pictures

A few weeks ago, I posted on a topic I thought would be really controversial. Potatoes. I said that potatoes are not our enemy. I expected to get blasted by all the Keto purists out there, but I did not. Instead, I got a bunch of likes. The article is still getting hits and it seems to resonate with people.

I’m going to follow up on that installment with just a few more comments. Some of them will be kind of repeats, but I want to be really clear.

First of all, I haven’t bought potatoes in over a month. When I do, it’s usually New Potatoes. They are lower in starch that their big brothers and sisters. When I prepare them, I cut them and soak them in water for at least an hour, to get some of the starch out of them. There really isn’t much, but I want to be smart about it.

I will boil them. Sometimes I will mash them. Not too often, because I’m just too lazy. Other times, I will roast them. I love roasted potatoes. I can eat them like French Fries, or like a baked potato. Either way is yummy.

I never fry them. I don’t eat fries. They are too much of a trigger food for me. As a cheapskate, it’s sometimes hard, because fries are so cheap to buy or make, and they are filling, but they will KILL my eating plan. And I know it.

I’m going out to dinner at a friend’s house tomorrow (Tuesday) night. I already know that Mashed potatoes will be on the menu. That just means the Wednesday and Thursday I will have broccoli or lettuce with my meals. It’s really simple to adjust.

The main reason I wanted to write this post, was to emphasize that when I say potatoes are not your enemy, I mean POTATOES. I’m talking about the real things. Whole, fresh, potatoes. I don’t mean potato chips (Crisps, they’re called here in Scotland) from the local gas station. Those are highly processed and often have a whole chemistry set of additional stuff sprinkled on them to make them taste like something they are not. Don’t get me wrong, potato chips are delicious, but they are not Keto friendly.

The other thing I need to warn you about, and I do so with tears in my eyes, because I love them so much, are…instant potatoes. Oh my word I love those things. They are cheap, delicious, and filling. In the old days, I would fix a bag of them and eat the whole thing myself as my supper. It was about a dollar, it filled me up, and I was happy. The problem is, again, they are so highly processed, they are essentially no longer potatoes. Any nutrients they have are loaded back into them.

The problem is, they are so cheap, and many of us are on a strict budget. I assure you, that if you use real potatoes, you’ll save money, and enjoy them more. Yes, it’s more work, but it’s worth the effort.

Remember, be careful. If your food choice comes in a bag, a box, or a can, read the ingredients closely.

Keto Heresy – The Potato Is Not Your Enemy

Image result for potatoes public domain images

There I said it. I know I’ve referred to it in several posts, but I’m going to dedicate this one to my friend. I will say it again – The Spud is your Bud. In moderation.

Potatoes are high in carbohydrates. No question. A hundred mg portion has 17 grams of carbs. That’s a lot. But with 2.2 grams of fiber, that brings the carb total down to 15. The story doesn’t end there. First, that same 100 mg of potato only has 77 calories. It has 32% of your daily vitamin C. It has 15 percent of your vitamin B6, and 12% of your daily potassium. In fact, potatoes alone supply every vital nutrient except calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D.

The Spaniards found the natives of Peru and Bolivia eating potatoes as they conquered the continent in the 1500s. They were suspicious, but found the tubers edible. They took some back with them to Spain. Ironically though, the Europeans did not warm to the potato. Some of the Elites and Upper Class did, but the poor, across especially Northern Europe, including Great Britain did not. In general terms, it was 1800 that marked the turning of the taste bud tide, with the exception of Ireland which had adopted the potato during the last half of the 1700s. The entire population started thriving as a result. The population of the island grew immensely. Then in the mid 1800, a potato famine wiped out a good portion of the population.

When I was in Bolivia, they told me they had over 400 varieties of potatoes there. I tasted about 15. That kind of genetic diversity provides stability when one variety has disease problems. Ireland was not Bolivia, and did not have the diversity.

Anyway, the Highlanders of Scotland learned to live on the potato, and to this day, here in Northern Scotland, many potatoes are grown.

The French, the Prussians, and eventually all of Eastern Europe and Russia, came to rely on the spud for it’s nutritional value. In North America, the potato was probably always secondary to corn in value to people. But today, it is a cheap staple in nearly every home, and is usually a part of every restaurant meal.

The potato is healthy. It is our friend. But not the way we eat it. We fry it. And we fry it in poor fats. We mash it with high calorie, high carbohydrate milk, plus we then load it with butter, Sour Cream, Cheese, and, or Bacon. We turn it into the foundation of a dietary tower of babel.

In America, we grow some enormous varieties, that are sometimes a pound in weight or more. Here in Scotland, we don’t do that. We have a few largish varieties, but we don’t go crazy like Americans do.

Oh, we dehydrate them, and process them, and make them instant, and load them with all kinds of ingredients from the chemistry set. Yes, they taste awesome. But those things are poison.

Here’s the way I eat potatoes. First, I will not have them more than once a week. Normally, it’s once a month. But I love potatoes and I know I’m not going to go the rest of my life potato free. So I fit them into MY plan. I mostly buy new potatoes. They are lower in starch. I cut each potato into two or four pieces. I soak them in water to get out any excess starch. Then I will roast them in the oven. They get crispy, like oven fries, with skin. There’s all kinds of good stuff in the skins. I can put butter and sour cream on them, or dip them in sugar free ketchup. They taste great.

Because I track what I eat, I can watch my carbohydrates and calories for the day. If I have potatoes, I will allow more like 40 to 50 grams of carbs for that day, and reduce my calories to 1700. It’s a win win. My taste buds AND the scales both love me.

For those of you on a calorie controlled diet, rather than Keto, I encourage you to eat plenty of potatoes. They will make you feel full without a bunch of calories. Use them in soups, as well as baked and roasted.

Like everything else I’ve learned, it’s the processed stuff we have to avoid. If it comes from a factory, don’t trust it. Read the labels. If it comes from a garden, it’s not going the be your enemy, in moderation. I have had a few potato beds ravaged by moles. But I have never seen an obese mole.

When I started this Keto journey, I avoided potatoes like they were as bad as sugar. Partly because there are few foods that are a bigger trigger for me. Now that I am in control of what I eat, rather than what I eat having control over me, I can have some potatoes.

I never touch potato chips. I could eat them by the bag full, but they are very highly processed. And like instant potatoes, they are coated in tasty chemicals. I just don’t want that. My wife might make home made chips (or crisps, as they’re called here in Scotland) once a year. But because they’re trigger foods for both of us, she also might not. My point is, home made are much better for you than buying them by the bag at the supermarket or the gas station.

Do your homework. Potatoes are not our enemies. It’s how we fix them, and how much of them we eat, that’s the problem. Think about it. There is my heresy. Here I stand. I’m losing weight and I’m having fun doing it.

Let’s finish with some weight loss update information. My current weight is 229. And today I had to put another new notch in my belt. Fortunately, it’s winter and most days I wear a sweater which covers the belt. It’s starting to look pretty worn. Yay. I have another one that I use for dress up occasions. But with this lock down, those are few and far between.

Some Dietary Confessions to Clear the Air

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I try not to burden you with too many of my thoughts on dieting. Even when there’s a lot of research behind them. Part of that is because, there’s enough talk and not enough doing. I want to do the weight loss and earn the right to be heard. And partly it’s because dieting is personal, and different diets work better with certain personality types.

Keto/SouthBeach works for me. I love it. I am rarely hungry. Sometimes, my wife or I go through a few days where we’re really hungry for a few days. Fortunately, it hardly happens at the same time, or we might be in trouble. And for the record, I weighed in at 243.8 lbs. That’s down from a high of 305. But to be fair, I restarted Keto/South Beach at 280. I told people it was 275. I was embarrassed.

The reason for today’s post is to talk about my adjustments to Keto due to my health concerns, and my core values. So get ready. You might be disappointed. I could even lose a few followers, but I’m not going to hide anything from you.

The first thing is, I had open heart surgery 2.5 years ago. I had triple bypass. It would have been quadruple, but the 4th line is deformed and comes off one of the other three, and wasn’t blocked. The valve it came off of was blocked after this one. It looks really weird when I see pictures of it. I have had heart challenges for several years and had lots of pictures taken yet this deformity was never discovered. Anyway, I essentially have three, rather than 4 actual valves attached directly to my heart.

Because of that surgery and my years of poor diet, I am currently on a number of medications. My goal is to lose enough weight and get fit enough to lose the medication, but that time has not yet come.

My other problem comes from abuse I gave my body by racing sled dogs for over 30 years. I was fat, yet ran speed mushing races. I ran up and down a lot of hills. It did damage to my knees and ultimately to my back. Then after retiring from racing, I took up farming. Trust me when I tell you that farming a small farm can be a lot of work. But I loved every day of it. The only problem was, eventually my body broke down. Now I suffer from bad knees and some very serious sciatic issues.

As a result, I have to take pain meds that create bowel challenges. The Keto diet doesn’t help resolve those problems. I need fiber. Its as simple as that. About every other week, I will have oatmeal, and some root vegetables like new potatoes, fresh carrots, and some parsnips. I also have plenty of broccoli and cauliflower.

On days when I’m having those foods, I watch my calories very closely. I’m not going to have a bunch of carbs AND calories. I simply have to do it.

The results are, it slows down my weight loss, but does not eliminate it. I am very fat adapted and some weeks I don’t even go out of ketosis. When I do, I get back in very quickly. I don’t eat tons of this non keto food, but it does work better than meds for the bowel issues. And I’d rather treat myself with food that with chemicals.

Also, to be fair, I’m not against root vegetables and oatmeal. Those have been staple foods that have kept whole nations alive for hundreds of year. Scotland, where I live, is an example. Here, potatoes, rutabagas, carrots, parsnips, barley and oatmeal have been dietary staples and have kept people alive and thriving. Especially during cold winters. Scotland did not start having health issues until really the 1980s when fast food, and processed food became big parts of the diet.

I’m a Christian. That affects every decision I make. I believe that if it comes from God it’s safe if taken in context and in moderation. If an ungulate eats it, so can I. And I can eat the ungulate. Here sheep and cattle, eat rutabagas, potatoes, barley and oatmeal all the time. They will eat beans and peas too, if they get in the fields. Those are whole foods, and we shouldn’t be afraid of them.

The reason I am on Keto, is because I abused myself and drastic action is required. It is not because high carb whole foods are bad. Keto works for me because fat is filling, and I need to feel full.

I only eat new potatoes. And only a few, about once every other week. New potatoes are lower in starch. I fix them with the skin on. I cut them, and soak them just like you would to remove starch from older potatoes. Then I boil or bake them. They are full of vitamins and minerals and are not terrible in carbohydrates.

The vegetable I have to watch are Parsnips. Those things are delicious, especially after a frost, and they look so innocent, but they are absolutely packed with carbohydrates. So is oatmeal. It is a carb monster. It has lots of fiber, but the carbs are outrageous even with the fiber.

But the problem is not really with the carbs, it is simple and processed carbs that will do you in. Sugar, is a killer. It just is. White flour has had all the benefits removed. A loaf of bread from the supermarket will be loaded with both. It’s an evil, almost like no other. Sure it tastes good. But it’s poison. There are no nutritional benefits. Sure some have had vitamins and minerals added. That’s because they’ve taken them out of the whole grains to begin with.

I do my best to avoid all processed sugar, and white flour. I don’t drink fruit juice, even a small glass, if there in no pulp in it. Even then, it’s pretty rare.

Donuts are absolutely delicious. Delicious poison. And that makes me sad. I don’t eat them, because I’m an addict. I’m addicted to flour and sugar. I can’t have a small portion and then leave them. I will binge for days. So, I don’t eat them. Sigh.

I’m starting to ramble, so it’s time to bring this to a close. I felt honesty was the best policy. I’m just not going to hide either my health issues, or my dietary habits, and pretend I’m doing something else. Let me just end with this. I pretty much always watch my calories. I believe that ultimately, calorie control is the key to weight loss. If you want to learn more about that, I recommend you watch videos from Ally McWowie on YouTube. She’s awesome, and really honest.