by Kathleen DesMaisons, PhD
Simon & Schuster, 1998
Review by Margo McPhillips on Feb 13th 2000
Potatoes not Prozac is a very useful book. The multitalented
author Kathleen DesMaisons writes from the viewpoint of an addictions counselor,
specifically alcohol addiction, but the book is also useful if the reader
is interested in losing weight, is taking Prozac or other psychopharmaceutical
drugs and is interested in how they affect one, or in how various foods
The front cover of the paperback states the book is, "A Natural Seven-Step
Dietary Plan to
The author combines "natural," easy-to-understand instructions with slightly
complicated, body chemistry facts. The seven steps include keeping a food
journal, eating three meals a day at regular intervals, and taking vitamins
as three of the steps but another step is, "adjusting your carbohydrate
intake..." and one of the book's chapters is titled, "Brain Chemistry 101."
Sometimes I felt the book was being obvious or had been written by my mother
but other times I felt like a race car being tuned and hoped the brain
that earned a "D" in high school chemistry has somehow improved enough
since to understand or care about some of the arguments and assertions.
Control Your Cravings and Lose Weight
Recognize How Foods Affect the Way You Feel
Stabilize the Level of Sugar in Your Blood
DesMaisons' main premise is that people's blood sugar is out of whack
and needs stabilizing. Her argument is this correction needs to be done
using complex carbohydrates that the body breaks down more slowly and evenly
than sugars; the levels of which can rise, peak and fall rapidly in the
blood, causing a whole host of nasty problems, mostly, I gathered, having
to do with the brain chemical, serotonin. Prozac also affects serotonin,
to counteract the effects of rising and falling sugars, but it is the author's
premise that consuming complex carbohydrates and staying away from sugar
do the affecting/stabilizing better than drugs.
Potatoes are a nice complex carbohydrate and their consumption is recommended
just before bed, for natural, restful sleep. We're back in motherland and
"complex" carbohydrates are defined (for those who got a D in chemistry
and home economics) as those which do not fall in the category of
"white things." White things are "bad" and to be avoided; bagels, cake,
cereal, cookies, croissants, doughnuts, white bread, white rice, pasta,
pastry, muffins, crackers, etc.
Despite its sometimes uneven reading levels, I enjoyed this book for
its "Emperors New Clothes" aspect. It took the obvious, folklore and facts,
such as what happens to children who eat too much candy or adults, too
many doughnuts for breakfast, and pointed them out to be seen, commented
on and agreed to. Many times the author seemed to say, "Yes, what your
mother told you and what you've observed in yourself and others is true
and here's why." It's a practical book whose assertions are easily tested.
I'm glad it was written.