Musings from a mixed domicile
So, what is it about a spouse or boyfriend that turns them into a master of sabotage when you decide to make your diet healthier or lose weight? Really?
I was a vegetarian when I first hooked up with—let's call him, Jim. And, that was okay with him, the carnivore. We had agreed that at home, we'd eat vegetarian and when we ate out, of course, it was just fine if he ate critters. You can guess that we ate out a lot. But, basically, for years, that rule worked for us rather well. I wasn't militant—and being an ovo-lacto vegetarian helped—and he didn't complain, especially if I was doing the cooking—and as the years worn on, that was all the time.
In the meantime, he accepted a job so he wasn't working from home anymore and he began going to an office every day. Gradually, things started to change; mostly, his attitudes. Was it just that we were so long at being a couple that he didn't feel he needed to compromise anymore, or had being around different people for lunch everyday changed him? I mean, they are a bunch of well, "regular" people. You know those who still think granola bars are health food, bagels and French fries are one of the main food groups, pizza is religion and watching your diet means getting a diet soda instead of one with sugar. Did I mention most of them are also diabetic?
So, somewhere at about the tenth-anniversary mark, he started complaining –loudly—about the lack of "protein" in "our" diet. Now, this is a man who had meat in his sandwich every day for lunch and often stopped for a breakfast burrito with meat in the mornings on the way to work. But, now all of a sudden, if we didn't have a dead critter on our plate for dinner, he didn't think it was dinner—or that he was getting enough protein. When I tried to explain that the guidelines he so faithfully recited were 40 years old and had been suggested by the beef industry, he accused me of being a revolutionary and touting a conspiracy theory agenda. It didn't matter to him that I had gotten paid to write about nutrition and sustainable food issues or that I'd read almost everything written on the topics. He stubbornly clung to the old wives' tales and cultural dietary rules that he had grown up with and learned as a kid.
Well, I don't enjoy arguing or unrelenting confrontation, so I did what most women my age do—after several years of nagging, I caved in. I couldn't eat red meat because I had lost the enzyme that made digestion possible, but I started making chicken or seafood several times each week. It had also become prohibitive financially to make two dinners each night—although, it would've been better on the budget if Jim had switched to a vegetarian diet. Dinner time was now more peaceful but not on the inside of me. I didn't complain when my digestive track came to a screeching halt or I had no energy. I didn't mention the hungry kids in China when I left more than half of my portion of dead critters on my plate. (The dogs were really happy about that!) Then, all of a sudden, I had symptoms of reflux that had previously just been Jim's problem. I had also developed high cholesterol, which was also something new. And, I was told that I was at the beginning of heart disease. In just two or three years, I'd caught up with him on the number of daily medications I now needed to take. And, I felt lousy. I had no energy. I had gained a lot of weight.
When I came out of the cardiologist's office that day, I announced I was going back to my former vegetarian lifestyle. Jim rolled his eyes and told me that my new plethora of health problems had nothing to do with my diet but rather family history and age. Happy birthday. It was just a "coincidence." Coming from a man who doesn't believe in coincidence, I translated this as fear that there'd be tofu on his plate now instead of dead critters. (Tofu used to be fine with him.)
So, I quietly changed my diet back not only to just veggies—but vegetarian with a vengeance. I did get militant—but only with myself. I strive to be a fat-free, gluten-free vegan. Try doing that and living with someone who thinks that ordering a pizza with no cheese (as opposed to extra cheese) is one of the seven deadly sins. (You guessed it; gluten is the one thing I WILL compromise on sometimes.) I've lost some weight, although not enough yet, and most of my energy is back. I've also discovered that when I'm gluten-free, all of my reflux symptoms disappear and so does my "chronic" cough.
It's actually easier now making two dinners, since most of my diet is raw or near-raw. I've subscribed for a share in a Community Supported Agriculture project (CSA) and have plenty of organic fresh choices for balanced salads, which I eat daily.
But, the battle isn't won yet. The other day, he had a business day trip to a town several hours away that has a really good bakery. You guessed it, he brought home glazed doughnuts and apple fritters. I've never eaten these anyway, but he announced they were for "both" of us. "After all," Jim summed it up, "that's why we work out, so we can eat this stuff." Now, it's my turn to roll my eyes.