For the past six weeks or so, there have been three tubes of Pringles on my desk. Give any clutter enough time, and it blends into the surrounding landscape, no longer seen as an item that needs to be addressed but a geographical feature destined to be stuck there forever, surer than trees to their roots. These Pringle tubes—Jalapeno, Rotisserie Chicken, and Original—join a thicket of other bits and bobs I’ll never have a clear enough idea what to do with. A bag of jelly beans that promises to be average at best, some Lagunitas merch (my koozie drawer at home is overflowing!), a bottle of hot sauce one notch too hot for my palate, some dog treats that await a less picky canine recipient, and a bag of granola whose clusters have long since been picked out, leaving behind pulverized granola dust that cannot be eaten with one’s hands but still probably tastes great with the addition of some milk I don’t have. I love my desk, and feel lucky to inhabit it.
But back to the Pringles. These are still sitting here for a very simple reason: I don’t eat potato chips of any kind. I haven’t for 16 years. In June 2004, my dad and I placed a bet on who could go longer without eating chips or French fries. He lasted about six months. I’m still going strong. People are often impressed by this; I’m here to insist they shouldn’t be.
I don’t have the healthiest diet. I’m The Takeout’s proud Candy Bureau Chief. But that’s exactly why cold turkey has been a remarkably easy way to cut chips and fries out of my diet: because in denying myself these two American staples, I pretty much leave everything else on the table. I’m not trying to “watch what I eat” or “make better choices” across the board, which can be a slippery and guilt-inducing slope. Instead, for 16 years, I’ve made exactly one hardline choice, and that’s as many as I’d care to make. (I’m fortunate that health issues, allergies, or other complications haven’t yet made more choices for me.)
After so much time, the temptation of these foods I once adored is now long gone. It’s almost like their status as food has since eroded in my mind, and I can smell them and transfer whole fistfuls of them to a loved one’s plate at a restaurant without thinking twice about it. I can’t speak to the struggle of quitting actual addictive substances—I’d never compare my own little dietary experiments to that. I’m just saying that, for me, in this one specific instance, quitting a food item cold turkey has been an ideal way to avoid the stomachaches that these delicious fried forms of potato used to cause. Have you done this with any beloved foods? Did it work for you?