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Why I gave up eating French fries for a whole year.

June 03, 2013

It was New Year’s Eve, 2012. My husband, son, and I were hanging out on the couch, waiting for the ball to drop. We started to talk about resolutions, which I usually don’t do. I took a deep breath and announced something that I had been thinking about for the last couple of days - my resolution for 2013. I WAS GIVING UP FRENCH FRIES. Probably not for forever, but at least for the year. This may or may not seem like an insurmountable feat to you, but I, in my mid-thirties, had never done anything like this. I had been eating (and loving) fries, on average, a few times per month (maybe more) my entire life. My husband and son looked at me like I was truly nuts. The expressions on their faces were priceless, and telling. I realized if they were that shocked by my plan, then from a health perspective, this was definitely something that I should do.

It wasn’t like I had just gotten concerning news about lab work, or my heart.  Health-wise, I was doing fine. However, I had come to realize that ingesting that much fried-anything just couldn’t be good for anyone. Yet, I have been a junk food junkie my entire life. My parents never encouraged it, but never really discouraged my unhealthy eating habits, either. No one had ever really told me that I was making bad choices.

Encouragement to make healthier food choices

Fast forward to about ten years ago.  My husband-to-be and I were sitting in a restaurant. I was eating (what else?) chicken strips and fries. My husband watched me eat, and said, “Ever think about having a salad instead?” I immediately felt defensive about my choices, but I knew him well enough to know that this wasn’t a sideways weight comment or anything of that nature. He was genuinely concerned about the nutritional content of what I was eating. My husband is not, and never was, a junk food junkie like me. He was raised to eat healthy, and as an adult, he continued to do so. I knew that when he made that comment, it was not a concern for how I looked on the outside. It was a concern for how I might look on the inside.

A decade later, I still remember that moment. Starting then, slowly (very slowly), I started making changes. More whole grains, less bleached flour. Frozen yogurt, not ice cream. I don’t really know what it was around New Year’s Eve that put the idea in my mind about the fries, but I guess I was just ready to take on a new challenge. I do know that I want to set a good example for our son, just like my husband has done for me. I also know that I want to live a long, healthy life, for him, my husband, and for myself.

Putting the challenge to the test

My willpower was tested the very next day. On New Year’s Day, we met some family at a local diner for lunch. Seven of us sat at a table and six of those seven of us had fries with their lunch. I didn’t eat any fries and was proud of myself, but a little unsure that I would actually pull this off. Fries are just everywhere. I was worried that this was not going to be easy for me.

However, six months later, I am fry free! I have not been to a single fast food restaurant this year and I haven’t taken my son to one, either. I realized once I cut out the fries, I wasn’t too interested in the fried chicken sandwiches and burgers, either. It all became less appetizing. When we go out to eat as a family, I am choosing salads and veggies as my sides, and my son is noticing. He is asking for fries (and other fried foods, like chicken nuggets) less often.

Will I go back to eating fries next year?

I don’t know. I’ll probably indulge once in a while, but my hope is that after a year without them, my taste for fries will have gone away and I simply won’t WANT to eat them anymore. My goal was never to restrict myself for forever, and that isn’t the lesson that I want our son to learn either. However, I would like him to see, through my example, that you can set a healthy goal and stick to it. There are other (better) choices out there to fill your tummy with than fried potatoes. I would like him to see that we are all as healthy as we choose to be. Eating well is a decision we all make every day, including our kids!

My resolution for 2014?  Maybe I’ll work on that caffeine addiction. Maybe.

Did you give up an unhealthy food for this year’s New Year’s resolution? How do you set healthy examples for your kids?