Talking to your wife is a little like having a conversation with an IRS agent…volunteering information can be dangerous. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it’s prudent to give either of them false information if they ask a direct question, but some things should be on a need to know basis. Let me give you an example.
A couple of weeks ago I paid a visit to my doctor, Mark. It wasn’t anything serious; I just needed an annual physical. It went fine. He was happy that I’d lost twenty-three pounds since last August and he was pleased that my blood pressure, cholesterol numbers and other metrics were well within the acceptable range.
Somewhere during the conversation, I casually said, “My weight loss seems to have plateaued. That’s odd. If I’m putting some effort into it, I can usually drop forty pounds before I start to slow down.”
“Well, you’re not as young as you used to be,” Mark replied.
“Thanks for pointing that out.”
“I just meant that sometimes the older a person gets, the harder it is to lose weight.
“OK, so what do I have to do to get around that? I’m already the sole support for three carrot farmers.”
“You need a more balanced diet and you need more exercise.”
We discussed his thoughts on exercise for a while and then I said, “So what do I do about a diet?”
“Well, with your numbers and lifestyle, I’d recommend a Paleo Diet.”
“It’s based on the idea that, genetically, we’re not much different from early modern humans. They didn’t grow any of their foods; they hunted and gathered. So, the concept is that our systems aren’t designed to properly process grains and foods that contain high levels of sugars or starches.”
The thing about doctors is that they have this calm, matter of fact way that makes their argument sound so logical.
“So what can I eat?”
“Just stay on the outside walls of the grocery store…meats, fruits and vegetables.”
It sounded so logical.
“So what did the doctor say today?” Linda asked while we were eating dinner that night.
“He says I’m fine and he said that maybe I should think about trying something called a Paleo Diet,” I replied innocently.
If you look up millisecond on Wikipedia, it’s defined as the amount of time it takes for your wife to Google something your doctor has said.
“Where are you taking that?” I asked as my fork stabbed air after she ripped my plate with a half-eaten baked potato from the table.
“You can’t eat potatoes on a Paleo Diet.”
“No. From now on you eat sweet potatoes. But, you can’t have butter or brown sugar on them,” she said while scrolling down a page on her tablet and feeding my potato to the garbage disposal.
Still hungry, I grabbed a clean plate from the cabinet and retrieved a generous helping of green beans from the serving dish.
“Uh-uh, you can’t have green beans either,” she said as my beans disappeared and joined my potato.
“Why? Green beans are a vegetable.”
“They’re a legume. No legumes.”
“What’s wrong with legumes?”
“I don’t know, but you can’t have them,” she mumbled as she flipped through a list of Paleo cook books on Amazon.
The next morning I woke to an odd aroma drifting through the house. Following it to the kitchen, I found Linda making my breakfast (an unusual occurrence in itself, by the way). “What’s that in the skillet?” I asked warily.
“It’s a Paleo pancake.”
“Aren’t pancakes supposed to be round?”
“It’s a Paleo pancake. It’s supposed to look like a tire from Fred Flintstone’s car. Just try it.”
“What are these big lumps mixed in?”
“I thought grains were off the list. How do you make a pancake without flour?”
“The recipe substitutes eggs.”
“Eggs and what?”
“You made me a banana omelet?”
“I suppose you could call it that, but I prefer Paleo pancake.”
“I’m almost afraid to ask, but may I have some pancake syrup?”
That request was met with ‘The Look’, so I picked up a fork and took a bite. “It’s a little dry,” I said cautiously.
“Try this,” Linda suggested as she squeezed two small drops of honey out of a bottle shaped like a bear.
“Gee thanks,” I answered as I tried to spread the infinitesimal drops around top of my odd shaped pancake.
“Just remember, that’s your total allotment of honey for the day,” she said as she left the kitchen.
Paleo Diet. It sounded so benign when Mark suggested it. But after living with it (at least while in Linda’s field of vision), I have several key observations.
Most folks today don’t have diet related disorders until they’re in their middle years. Early humans didn’t have a very long lifespan. They probably didn’t live much past thirty-five. Granted, it wasn’t heart disease, cancer or diabetes that did them in. More likely, it was an encounter with a wooly mammoth or a saber tooth cat that took them off of the roster. But, how do we know what would have happened to them if they had made it until they were fifty or sixty? Maybe potatoes and green beans have a secret ingredient that the human body needs to make it to eighty.
Speaking of potatoes, my grandmother was an Irish immigrant. Potatoes have been a diet staple in Ireland for centuries. How do we know that there isn’t an Irish mutation that allows me to eat potatoes without any negative repercussions?
Staying with that line of thought, Native Americans have been growing and eating corn for millennia. By all accounts, they were healthy, lived long lives and were doing well until European squatters moved in. My great-great grandmother was a Seneca Indian. Why can’t I eat corn?
On the Paleo Diet, I’m allowed to eat apples, oranges, grapes and other fruits. But, if I squeeze out the juice and drink it, the Paleo referee is going to give me a penalty. How’s come?
I don’t drink much alcohol, but occasionally I will have a cold beer on a really hot summer day. That’s not allowed on the Paleo diet. However, I’m told that wine in moderation is fine. I wonder if early modern man had a preference for alcohol what drink he used to get a buzz.
The list goes on and on.
The root cause of the problem is that I casually and unnecessarily mentioned Paleo Diet to my wife. This was a piece of information that she had no reason to investigate before I mentioned it and I will be paying the price for a long time to come. I should have put a period after “He says I’m fine.” After forty years, you’d think I would have known better.
Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to make the best of it. Maybe I’ll start drinking wine. I should ask my friends at The Wine Wankers what wine goes best with grilled Giant Ground Sloth.
P.S. I’m not buying the idea that cavemen pulled their women around by the hair. Some things just aren’t in a man’s DNA.