A LETTER TO FRENCH FRIES
By: Lauren Anderson
The last week, I’ve found myself deep in the throws of one of the nation’s largest Fringe Festivals.
If you’re not aware of what a Fringe Festival is, it could generally be described as a festival for theatre celebrating new and often brave work, that may not get produced in a normal theatre season.
In other words– FRINGE.
I am performing in one of these plays, and I am also trying to see as many as I can. Because when you do this art it’s nice to also support this art, ya know? But before today’s story devolves into a weird Fringe manifesto, I want to get back to the subject at hand: French Fries.
Because I’ve been busy, I’ve been eating out more. Hanging out more. Usually at bars or in bar-like spaces. And the one common denominator is almost always french fries.
Can I just take a minute here and say for the record: I really like french fries. I know, real “out there” statement right? It’s like, who doesn’t? But even though I like them, I have to be honest.
I don’t love them.
Wait! Before you get your pitchforks and chase me out of town for the monster I am, let me explain!
I’m not generally one of those people that can order a plate of french fries and be cool. I’d much rather have a sandwich or a taco or something, and if fries come along for the ride, I’m in! But as a general rule, I don’t especially seek them out.
Fries for fries sake is not how I roll. But fries as a side option is usually a pretty welcome thing. So that being said, I did a little math.
And to my surprise, I’ve eaten french fries at least once a day for the last 5 days!
What?! Five days in a row you say? What the-?!
I know. I was a little dumbfounded by the count. Not because it’s weird, or wrong, or bad or anything messed up like that. But because it’s so frequent. And for someone who was not actively seeking out fries in particular in any of these 5 instances…that’s a lot of fries for no reason.
Which got me thinking. This french fry onslaught is a perfect example of me eating food without intention. And it’s not even really a fry-centric thing either. This same observation could be made about any food. It’s letting my choices happen TO me, instead of taking an active and aware role in what I consume.
I used to eat this way a lot more than I do now. Before I took nutrition classes at Solcana, and educated myself more deeply about food beyond calorie counts, I was a pretty classic emotional eater.
Or a bored eater. Or an anxious eater. These are things I still think about and work on every day. They didn’t magically disappear. But to my elation and small pride (if I may), my relationship with food has changed 180 degrees. Because I finally started talking about it openly! And then I took a class and got support from a community! I did (and do) more research, and since then I practice every day engaging with food in a positive and intentional way.
And now, food no longer feels like an enemy or a point of shame.
And for those of you that may have a disordered relationship with food like me, you know what a HUGE thing that is to be able to type. In fact, there was a point in my life where I thought I’d never be able to say something like that.
And yet, HERE I AM TYPING IT.
Which is kind of why I wanted to write a little ditty about eating a lot of french fries today.
There was a point in my life, where I know this french fry trend would’ve gone unnoticed. That is how checked out I was with what I consumed. Then there was also a few points in my life where I would’ve been hyper-aware of what I was eating, and I would’ve hated myself. I was either numb to what I ate or guilty.
But when I noticed the french fry dominance this week, I felt none of the old familiar demons. Only observation. Like an anthropologist or a detective.
“Hmmmm, looks like a fry tendency is occurring! How do you want to proceed Captain?”
Now I have some intentional work to do. I ask myself, “Why all the fries, Anderson?” I search around in my mind for a bit. Is it sadness? No. Is it hunger? Sometimes. Is it boredom? No. But it is passive. Okay! We’re getting somewhere. I make a conclusion.
The answer: I’ve been eating out every day, and the fries have been an accidental co-pilot.
And now I have options, because I’m aware. I can continue to eat fries when I eat out, or I can make a different choice. Notice I didn’t say “BETTER” choice. Because F. That. Noise.
I repeat my mantra that I’ve been practicing for a while now. You can say it with me if you want, (cause I can use all the support!) Food is just food. It is not evil or bad or wrong. It just IS.
And next time I’m out post-fringe noshing with my people, I can either intentionally choose fries cause that’s what sounds most delicious to me in that moment, or I can choose something else. The most important thing is that now my french fry consumption will be intentional.
I think I’ve quoted my Dad about this before, but he used to jokingly say, “Everything in moderation… except heroine. Then it’s all or nothing.” And it used to make me laugh. But the beginning part of that statement is something I mull over quite a bit.
As someone who has a tendency to be extreme or intense, I am constantly practicing moderation. The idea of push and pull, or pursue and withdraw. And it’s interesting to think that this also applies to how I engage with food.
So here’s to you french fries! Thanks for giving me yet another opportunity to figure out some more stuff on this long and winding road. You are a delicious thing that we are all grateful for.
But next time I’m out, I may opt for another side. Cause, you know… moderation!
You all have heard me say on multiple occasions that I will no longer participate in toxic diet culture. But taking an active, joyful, intentional role in what I eat and why I eat it is something that’s important to me.
And for that, I’m all IN.