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Get those Spuds into ya

There are a lot of options nowadays of food for people to eat. We are bombarded constantly by the media, advertisements and various celebrities pushing their agenda. They preach to us about the new diet, product or 'superfood' that is guaranteed to solve all our ailments and bring us guaranteed health.

There is a certain pressure to eat particular foods and conform to what society dictates as healthy or in vogue. Foods that we once thought were healthy are not now 'healthy' (or just not as popular). Social media may also influence our opinions telling us that a certain type of diet is better than another, low carb or high fat etc. What type of diet a person on Instagram with a few thousand follows has, may not be suitable for your average GAA player.

Eating a diet of foods that are unprocessed and natural is generally the best and will cover all bases. Ireland as a nation survived for many generations eating foods such as root vegetables, potatoes, meat and dairy. Suddenly people are eating far less potatoes with other sources of carbohydrates in vogue such as quinoa, pasta and sweet potato. Whilst quinoa and sweet potato definitely have their merit, we should not be discarding potatoes under the misguided notion that they are 'not good' for us.

Potatoes are probably suffering from a lack of popularity in current generation of people. (You rarely see an Instagram post with a picture of a pot of spuds!). The average national consumption has decreased in recent decades, falling from 308 lb per capita in the 1970s to 187 lb in 2015 in Ireland. The growth of low carbohydrate diets and the misguided notion that potatoes are fattening may have also added to their demise. Potatoes do contain a high proportion of carbohydrates but like any food, it is not one single food that causes weight gain but an over-consumption of all foods. Carbohydrate foods are obviously crucial for any sprint or power athlete hoping to perform at a maximal level.

Why we should you get those spuds into ya?

  • An excellent source of carbohydrate that helps provide energy for high intensity sport.

  • An excellent source of vitamin C. One medium sized potato provides half your daily needs of Vitamin C.

  • Contain more potassium than a banana which is an important mineral in our body that regulates how muscles function.

  • Contains fibre which is very important for digestion and is lacking in many people's diets.

  • Naturally gluten free, low in salt and fat.

  • Potatoes have been repeatedly been associated with fullness. Studies on satiety have shown that people who eat potatoes feel 'less hungry' than when they eat other types of food. In the study of all foods, potatoes came out on top. This is important for people who complain about being hungry when on a diet, eating a food such as potatoes may decrease feelings of hunger and may reduce the likelihood of reaching for a high calorie treat.

Potatoes can be an excellent pre-match meal option. If you are eating 3-4 hours before a match, eating some boiled potatoes and fish will provide a meal that is familiar, easy to digest and provide sustained energy over a long period of time.

The graph below outlines the satiety index of various foods. Potatoes are by far the most satiating.

Potatoes are also very cheap, very versatile and extremely tasty. It is when we deep fry them that they accumulate more unneeded calories and fat and cause problems to our health.

Growing up, I would have eaten potatoes nearly every day. My mother would have boiled a large pot of potatoes and the whole family would have tucked in eating whatever meat and vegetables were accompanying the meal. Pasta and rice were still exotic commodities in rural Leitrim in the 80's and early 90's!

We need to re-evaluate our current relationship rocky with potatoes. They are a very versatile food that should be a staple in the food basket of any person active or not. They are very versatile and can be eaten at any time of the day.

Here are a few potato recipes that people should consider as they embrace the value of the humble spud.

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