I decided back in February that this Easter season I would give up french fries for Lent. Not just french fries, but also french fry-related items like onion rings, tater tots, and even hash browns. That last one made Fridays even more challenging as we Catholics try not to eat meat on Fridays. So naturally, breakfast for dinner seems logical until you start removing key breakfast side items like hash browns and home fries. But I digress.
What did I learn? Giving up fries is HARD. Even I, a long time admitted fast food junkie, didn’t realize how many places offer fries as the main side item. Dinners were relatively easy. I could have veggies, cole slaw, a side salad, or even a baked potato. But at lunch and especially at fast food restaurants, give up fries & onion rings and your options become severely limited. I found myself getting side salads a lot, the health advantages of which are debatable when you factor in dressing. In one case, while eating at McDonald’s with friends, I ordered a side of apple slices. That was surreal. But more often, I just skipped the side altogether. That was a revelation. In an era of combo and value meals, it takes adjusted expectations to be satisfied with just a sandwich
Mexican food was great because I didn’t count tortilla chips in my exclusion list. After a couple of weeks I settled into a routine where I got used to life without my fried friends. Don’t get me wrong, I still missed them and counted down the days until Easter like a kid anticipating summer vacation.
So it’s been a week since Easter. My first fries were from McDonald’s. I figured one of the world’s most popular french fries would be a good choice for the return from my fast food fried side fast. And ahhhh, it was good. But I took away something from this experience. Call it a better awareness of side item alternatives and a willingness to be content with skipping sides altogether on occasion. While not done for the health benefits, I can’t help but think my cholesterol count benefitted from this experiment. All in all a satisfying experience, although it’s too early to think about whether I would do it again next year!