SEATTLE – The head of the Washington Potato Commission ended his potatoes only diet – he lost 50 pounds in  two months.

Charlie Vismans, 41, began his spuds-only regimen to protest a U.S. Department of Agriculture rule barring low-income recipients of food vouchers under the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program from using their benefits to purchase white potatoes.

He had potatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  And snacks.   He lost 50 pounds in two months!

Vismans is recommending his diet to others as a weight-loss plan.  Not only did he lose weight, but  he lowered his blood sugar, cut his total cholesterol by over a third, and reduced his weight from 226 to 176 pounds, he said.

Vismans stands 6-feet 1-inch.

“The whole purpose of this diet is to get white potatoes in WIC,” said Vismans, who lives in Seattle.

By the time his self-imposed diet ended at midnight Monday, Voigt had consumed 4,000 pounds of potatoes — about 200 spuds a day for 60 days — and in virtually every shape and form imaginable, he said in a telephone interview with WWN.

He typically cooked up two boiling pots each night for the next day’s meals and snacks: 10 pounds of mashed, 6 pounds of sliced and fried, and 5 pounds of roasted, snack-cubed red and fingerling potatoes.

“If I found something I liked, I would eat it for two days straight,” he said.

Seasonings — rosemary, thyme, oregano, dill, mustard seed, cinnamon and nutmeg — spiced up the otherwise bland fare.

For a special treat, Vismans prepared potato gravy, mixed up with bouillon cubes and potato starch.

“In a restaurant you would send it back, but to me, it was heaven,” he said.

On Thanksgiving Day, Vismans had  a “tur-tato,” a 15-pound chunk of mash, molded into the shape of a turkey, basted with olive oil and broiled. “When we carved away, it was tender.”

USDA interim rules for the WIC program allow recipients — usually low-income pregnant women and mothers with young children — to use vouchers to buy “any variety of fresh whole or cut vegetable, except white potatoes.”

Orange yams and sweet potatoes are permitted.

The National Institute of Medicine in Washington, D.C., recommended the exclusion of white potatoes in April 2005 to USDA for those using WIC vouchers, institute spokesperson Wanda Williams told WWN.

“Americans consume white potatoes in ample quantities,” Williams said. “The issue is more about improving the diversity and range of vegetables.”

The USDA’s Food and Nutritional Service, which administers the WIC program, plans to issue a final decision on the potato-ban rule next year.

Vismans plans to celebrate his diet’s end on Tuesday with a dinner feast of  steaks and — he said — roasted potatoes, topped off with apples and milk.  And he just received a Bat Boy bobblehead from  WWN as an award for his weight loss.  He loved it so much he bought 300 more at the–


“I’m looking forward to playing with my Bat Boy Bobblehead!” he said.

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