The Mark Watney Diet

I read a little story that you may have heard of called The Martian. I think it got some small amount of publicity before fading into obscurity in the far gone epoch of 2015 AD. Within the flow of the story, Mark Watney, stranded on Mars, has to figure out how to grow potatoes in order to extend his considerably limited rations.

I may not be the only person who has gone on to refer to this as the Mark Watney Diet. But this is meant to be as ironic as the concept of the paleo diet. Watney didn’t eat potatoes as his main staple because he was trying to lose weight, he ate potatoes in order to maintain the teensy bit of weight he had. By the end of the story, he was suffering from the kind of malnutrition you could expect from someone who has lived primarily on potatoes and faith for the better part of a year.

In Penn’s latest book, Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales, Penn Jillette tells readers about a time when he was caught between a rock and a hard place: Stomach sling, or losing 100 pounds fast. The first two weeks of his special diet, herein called The CrayRay diet involved what he loving refers to as a potatoes famine. Except instead of a famine resulting from the lack of potatoes, the only thing Penn’s crash diet allowed him to eat for two weeks was potatoes. Also, he could drink coffee as long as it was black.

Both the author and publisher throw out the disclaimer: Do Not Do This Without Consulting Your Doctor!

Personally, if I ever told my doctor about some of the undercooked and raw things I’ve eaten, he’d have me committed. Fortunately, extreme dieting is not in my future as of yet, since the last time I weighed in I was just over 200 pounds. I’m no where in the neighborhood of being physically and emotionally healthy, but I’m not in danger of having to have a life saving (yet risky) operation.

But I did learn one thing as a result of reading this book: Potatoes are easy to cook in a microwave. Good thing to know if I ever get stranded on Mars but if I do ever get to the point where losing weight could be the only other life saving option available to me, I also have Penn Jillette and NASA buddy Ray Cronise, to thank for at least pointing me in the right direction.

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