Between January 1, 2016 and January 1 of this year, Andrew Taylor lost over 100 pounds, going from 335 to 212 lbs., on a diet of nothing but potatoes.
“I haven’t weighed myself since January, but my clothes all fit the same,” he told me over the phone this past June. Irish America covered Taylor’s story earlier this year (February / March), but we thought we’d check back in with him for our annual health issue to see how he’s doing and get more details on his Irish-inspired diet.
“I’ve been eating a very simple diet. I still eat a lot of potatoes. Food is fuel for me these days; I don’t use it as a source of emotional support and comfort. It’s just something I need to eat to help me be healthy,” he said.
The 36-year-old Taylor, a former teacher and now stay-at-home dad for his three-year-old son Teddy, lives in Melbourne, Australia, first went viral last spring after posting a series of video diaries about his diet to his YouTube channel, Spud Fit. Shortly afterwards, his local grocer became a sponsor, donating all his potatoes for free – about eight to nine pounds per day.
He began this diet because he recognized he had a food addiction and wanted to remove the emotional motivation for eating as much as possible. He was eating junk food compulsively, drinking an unhealthy amount of Coca-Cola, was suffering from depression, and wanted to stop. But, unlike quitting alcohol or nicotine cold turkey, that obviously wasn’t an option with food.
“I had this idea of quitting food, so I decided to quit all foods except one and then I went about researching if there was a food that would let me to do that,” he said. “I read a lot about the history of the human diet and that’s where potatoes came into it a lot. I read a lot about the Irish diet before the potato famine, and that was a really big part of my inspiration. You know, for a couple of centuries they went through a population boom, they were fit and healthy, and ate almost nothing but potatoes.” That research proved to him that if the Irish could do it out of necessity, he could do it by choice and remain physically healthy, too.
He found a doctor who specialized in nutrition to supervise him and began. Since the whole point of the diet was to curb addiction and effectively nullify his enjoyment of food, plain boiled potatoes were his staple. Three-quarters of the time, he ate them unseasoned, occasionally adding small amounts of seasoning. (He did also allow himself a beer or two once or twice a week.)
“I did my best to keep it as bland and boring as possible. That way it would force me to get comfort and enjoyment from other areas of life instead of relying on food for those things.”
Now, seven months after ending his diet, Taylor’s life has changed completely. He operates spudfit.com, offering podcasts, recipes, coaching, and a DIY book to help people similarly suffering from food addiction to eliminate their emotional reliance on unhealthy eating.
Most importantly, he has stayed off the junk food and hasn’t had any cravings either. Since ending the year of potatoes, he’s moved on to a whole foods plant-based diet, which means he’s eating exclusively whole, unprocessed plant foods like beans, rice, greens, bananas, and, of course, potatoes.
Other than the weight, the biggest changes he’s experienced have been to his sleep patterns, joint pains, and emotional stability. “My body just works better. I sleep better. I don’t have aching joints,” he says. “So I don’t see any reason to go back.” ♦