Friday, January 6, 2012

a house divided

Maybe it was too good to last. Maybe I was asking too much. Though come to think of it, I didn't ask. He offered.

Whatever the cause, things are changing at my house, and chaos is in the air.

I can't eat gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and a bunch of other things that escape my mind at the moment. GK seems to be able to eat anything he pleases without obvious repercussions. For the first year or so, he was completely up for clearing out our pantry and freezer and fridge of foods that might make me sick. He is a sweetheart for sure, but I still think some of his motivation came from a desire to not have to listen to me in pain half the time. Anyway, year one was pretty easy around our house. I was still struggling to determine what I could safely eat, but he was willingly eating what I cooked and forgoing sandwiches except when he went to lunch with friends. I went through the usual grain substitutions, trying lots of interesting sounding flours and adding sugar into my diet for the first time in years. I also started cooking with xanthan gum and guar gum and all sorts of yucky stuff. I was determined to find food I could eat, and that was the direction much of the gluten-free literature was sending me. It was only after months and months of trial and error, mostly error, that I put enough puzzle pieces together to rule out lots of culprits in my diet in addition to gluten and dairy.

As I added to my list of "must avoids," the Paleo approach to food, drink, and lifestyle started to become an obvious choice. Obvious for me, anyway. Like many of us, I'd gone through phases of avoiding red meat, trying on vegetarian, toying with vegan, low-fat, low carb, low protein, high protein, heavy supplement use. Still, in my heart of hearts, I'm a meat-eater, a happy carnivore. I can easily fantasize about thick rare steaks, carpaccio, lamb shanks, and lobster. I grew up eating raw lamb and frog legs. Paleo sounded perfectly fine to me. I could easily do without grains and legumes.

Uh, what was I thinking? GK would happily, very happily, forgo meat entirely. He will eat it, but he most definitely did not want, does not want, any association with a diet that revels in it. Though Paleo is certainly not all about gnawing on knuckle bones and emphasises real food, including lots of vegetables, it may elicit visions of cave men with clubs eating raw flesh. And did I mention this man practically lives for potatoes and beans? Seriously, I could serve beans twice a day, every day, and he would be thrilled. I didn't even think of all that as I talked excitedly about finally finding a grove that seemed to fit, about bloggers and cooks who used ingredients I could actually eat and shared recipes I could use without constant substitution. I also missed what should have been an even more obvious shift. I was now talking about a personal choice, a positive move toward something I wanted, not just escape from the pain of the last few years.

So as I embraced Paleo foods, GK quietly took another stand. He didn't ask me to change the foods I bought or ate. And thankfully, he's not one of those scary people who likes to slip offending foods onto your plate just to show you. No, it wasn't horrid; it was just weird. He started picking up cheeses when we shopped, stood looking longingly at the bread section before slipping a loaf of sprouted grain bread into the cart, and asked for oatmeal. The contents of my kitchen started changing.

And then came the big guns; he wouldn't eat the meals I'd cooked. He said there was too much meat or too much fat. He asked for beans and sandwiches and oatmeal with raisins. Yikes! Who was this? What happened to the man who said he didn't mind at all? The one who said he could just eat those foods when he was in a restaurant? The one who was happy to eat scrambled eggs instead of his beloved oatmeal?

We are working out the kinks in all this still. Since I cook and he cleans, I've agreed to add some meals where meat is optional, others where it plays a less significant role. Though our meals had never been meat-fests, they must have seemed that way to him. It is, of course, more complicated now, and I worry sometimes about cross-contamination, but heck, ya do what ya gotta do. I guess I should still count myself pretty lucky.

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