Last night, our community gathered at the Lions Hall in town to feast on pancakes, a symbolic "Fat Tuesday" tradition where we load up our plates and celebrate before having to give something up on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. I did just that: I enjoyed my pancakes smothered in butter and real maple syrup, and all the fixin's that came with it.
And then I went home and finished off the last of a bag of potato chips too, knowing it would be the last time I tasted them until Easter.
After giving it a lot of thought, and tossing around a multitude of ideas, I've decided to stick with my resolution to give up potatoes for Lent. I'm still haunted by the memories of going sugarless several years ago, so I wanted to make sure this year it was something that wasn't going to become as all-consuming as that endeavour was, yet was still difficult enough to be considered a real challenge.
Potatoes really aren't all that bad for you. I mean, they are a vegetable after all. But truth be told, I'm not a big fan of potatoes, at least not in the traditional sense. I don't crave them mashed or baked. Unfortunately, my preferred form of potatoes is any way I can make them unhealthy - as in potato chips (with dip, of course), French fries (doused in salt and vinegar and dipped in ketchup, or smothered in cheese and gravy), I only eat mashed if they come with gravy, and if I'm eating a baked potato, it has to be fully loaded with butter, sour cream, green onion, and bacon.
Therein lies the reason I've decided to cut potatoes from my diet. I've been eating them - in their most unhealthy forms - far too often these days. Chips & dip are a frequent evening snack, I rarely eat out that it doesn't come with a side of fries or poutine, and my willpower to resist either had become non-existent. Lent offers the perfect opportunity to cut my addiction and maybe even kick-start some much-needed weight loss right now.
I toyed with making it even harder, by cutting all things "white" from my diet, as I've heard of others doing, but man-oh-man, that's a lot of stuff. That's harder than cutting just sugar. That would also mean white flour, salt, potatoes, pasta, milk, sour cream, yogurt, even bananas...eep. Too much stuff.
Then I thought of doing potatoes, white bread, and pasta. White bread wouldn't be that hard, I don't eat it often to begin with, but my beloved pasta...that would be tough. Too tough, I think.
So potatoes it is. No more chips, french fries, homefries, or any other form of potato. I'm also giving up sweet potato fries (because we all know I'd opt for that side in a restaurant, and it's really no healthier). The goal here is to choose a salad for a side instead, or have a salad entree when dining out.
What I AM allowed: popcorn, pretzels, corn chips, and kind of snack cracker that is not potato-based - BUT the goal is to cut out night-time snacking altogether, so I'm not planning on chowing down on these snacks instead at night. It's just an alternative if I'm at a party or something, if I can't dive into the chip bowl, I can have a handful of another snack that is not potato-related.
As I said - not as hard as giving up sugar, but still not easy. I have already had my first dawning moment of realization, as I discussed the upcoming curling bonspiel on Saturday with my friend Lindsay. I told her I thought it might be a good idea if I got away from the rink, went somewhere to eat during the break between games, so that I'm not just sitting there drinking all day. I already had visions of a chicken finger platter with poutine on the fries from Hursty's dancing in my head when it hit me: "Oh wait. Shit. I can't eat fries. UGH."
It will be good for me, though. Hopefully a kickstart to some healthier eating habits. I have a new little goal in mind. I'm going to a Blue Jays game on May 13th. I was gifted a Josh Donaldson tee for Christmas that is a bit too tight, and my goal is to have it fit comfortably by the time I go to the game. TOTALLY doable.
And potato-less Lent should help.
What are YOU giving up, or doing to mark this Lenten season?