What happens when you give up potatoes?

by Rajesh Kaur

Potatoes are an integral part of Indian cuisine and are used in various dishes like pakodas, cutlets, and parathas. They are known for their versatility and can be baked, boiled, or fried, making them a staple in many households. However, when following strict diets, people often choose to reduce or eliminate their consumption of potatoes. But is it advisable to completely remove potatoes from our diet? And what changes can occur in the body if we give up potatoes for a month? Experts provide insights into these questions.

According to Prachi Jain, Chief Clinical Nutritionist & HOD (Nutrition & Dietetics) at CK Birla Hospital in Gurugram, potatoes are energy-dense and are usually cooked using excessive oil, resulting in the addition of extra calories to one’s diet. By avoiding potatoes, one can prevent weight gain caused by these extra calories. Shivani Arora, a Consultant Dietitian, concurs with this view and explains that eliminating potatoes from one’s diet can have several positive effects on the body. Depending on how one adjusts their diet, they may experience changes in weight. Replacing potatoes with low-calorie foods can lead to weight loss, while vice-versa can result in weight gain. Arora also highlights that the starch in potatoes can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, so omitting them from the diet can help regulate blood glucose levels, especially in individuals with diabetes. Furthermore, removing potatoes can decrease carbohydrate intake, potentially improving metabolic health.

However, cutting potatoes from our diet also has its drawbacks. Potatoes provide essential nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium. Arora points out that excluding potatoes without suitable replacements may lead to nutrient deficiencies. Potatoes also contain dietary fiber, which is crucial for digestive health. Removing them from the diet can disrupt digestion and adversely impact bowel habits. Jain adds that potatoes are easily accessible and affordable, making them a part of everyone’s diet regardless of socio-economic status and age. Excluding them can limit meal variety and creativity. Additionally, Dr. Kiran Dalal, Chief Dietitian at Fortis Escorts Hospital in Faridabad, highlights that some potatoes contain safe starch, which acts as a prebiotic, helping good bacteria grow in the gut. Excluding safe starch from the diet may affect the diversity of bacteria in the gut.

If someone wishes to eliminate potatoes from their diet, there are several substitutes available. Common potato substitutes include sweet potatoes, cauliflower, turnips, plantains, and zucchini. These ingredients can be prepared in various ways to mimic the texture and flavor of potatoes in different dishes. However, individuals with diabetes, those on low-carb diets, people with nightshade allergies, digestive issues, kidney problems, or those trying to manage weight should exercise caution when consuming potatoes.

In conclusion, it is important to note that potatoes can be part of a balanced diet for many people when consumed in moderation and prepared in a healthy manner. However, if someone has specific dietary concerns or medical conditions, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian for personalized guidance. Ultimately, the decision to include or exclude potatoes from one’s diet should be based on individual needs and preferences.

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