Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dieting for Couples

Ever since we've been married, we've been on a diet.

Ok, not a diet, a change in lifestyle, a way of eating... but whatever you want to call it, we've been trying to lose weight. This has not, on the whole, been a happy thing for us, as you might imagine. Actually, frustrating beyond words might well be a whole lot better way of putting it. There are so many reasons why, but I think that the bottom line comes down to a combination of different styles and issues about control. Both of which seem to be worse when you have people with food issues anyway.

Me, I'm a rules-oriented person. I love rules. I love rules because there's no ambiguity, and I can just say, THIS is what we're doing. Exceptions? Of course not. That would be just wrong. (Obsessive? Yes! A tad too rigid? Well, yeah, probably.) But I am brilliant at rules. Tell me that you want a cup of coffee in the morning, and it will be there every day. Forever. And if you say, "I don't feel like coffee today", I'll be all disconcerted. Because that's what the rule was.

Michael, not so much. All you have to do is tell him that he cannot have something, and that will be the number one most wonderful thing in the universe. And the reverse is also true... he has a pretty low tolerance for anything that is easily accessible and Just No Problem if you eat it. That last bit's not entirely fair... I think it's more that he simply gets tired of things extremely quickly. And I can't say that I think he's ever bought into the low-carb thing heart and soul, even though it's been really successful for him.

All of this leads to, as you'd imagine, more than a little conflict. And it's more and more clear to me that something about this dynamic has just got to change. This is the hard part. He thinks that I want to control what he eats... or part of him does anyway... and so he sometimes gets just furious if I mention that it's necessary to keep an eye on the carb content of what he's eating. Hm. Ok. Yeah, as I type that out, I can see certainly why it's annoying to be reminded of that. But... I don't know, what's the option? I really have a hard time with this, in part because I'm so worried about him and because I can see how poor food choices impact both his rate of weight loss (or lately, not losing weight) and his blood sugar. And then he lies in bed at night and frets about not losing weight, and it's hard not to say, maybe you should have thought about that when you were eating X earlier in the day... (not that I would ever say that!).

The other part is that left to his own devices, he doesn't eat at all half the time. And then he gets really hungry and grabs crackers or something like that. (Side note: an economist friend of mine is doing some really interesting research on how mortality rates change after the death of a spouse. His conclusion at the moment: statistically, there's not much impact on women's probability of death, but a fairly big impact on men, probably because at least some men just don't do the "caring" things for themselves that their wives did... proper nutrition, seeing the doctor.) So it's hard to feel like the caring thing to do is just to get out of the way and let him make his own food choices... especially since I shop and cook these days, because he's really not able to.

Sigh. I am really not sure how to change this, although it seems to me part of a big lesson that life is trying to teach me these days, that it is ok for people to handle things in ways that are different than you would.

No comments: