Wednesday, October 6

The Potato Diet

When I was eleven, we started allergy testing because I was one of those unfortunate dorks harassed by pollen, dust, trees, grass, cattle, and many others that made my voice too similar to Fran Drescher’s.

For those unfamiliar with this kind of fun, it involves going to a doctor and having his nurse really, honest-to-god, scratch you with little needles or knives or something that makes blood rise to the surface of your skin. They follow this by dripping some allergen on the sections of your arm that have been scratched, and waiting to see what happens (i.e., how swollen a person really can get in twenty minutes).

After my first visit, I emerged with sixteen scratches on each arm, a total of thirty-two reasons for my teacher to call me aside the next day for a “chat” about my self-mutilation.

About a year after the allergist determined how many thousand shots I would need to be “cured”, and we had begun weekly treatment as prescribed, it became apparent that no change was taking place in me at all.

So my mother and I visited the office one of those weeks, and requested to actually meet with the doctor himself (because his nurses were the ones who administered the shots). She complained extensively about the lack of improvement in me, trying to appeal to the heart with phrases like “poor girl,” and “sounds like a boy,” or “has to take a nap (for headache relief) after school”. I did take a lot of naps.

Anyway, I never liked this man, and as evidence of his crappy disposition, he was not moved by her speech in the least. My mother held her position, but he maintained that he knew what to do.

“Starting tomorrow, she will eat only potatoes for three days. Following this cleansing period, you may reintroduce foods as you like, keeping a daily journal of which foods cause which reactions, if any,” said he.

So mom got creative, and served a tasty rotation of baked potatoes, boiled potatoes, and tater tots. (“No oil allowed” meant no fries.) One week later, I enjoyed mashed potatoes, with the reintroduction of milk and butter.

The three-day potatoes-only diet turned into a three-month potatoes-plus-one diet. And I didn’t eat them again for years.




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