29: I’ll Have Fries with That

29: I’ll Have Fries with That

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love

I’ll Have Fries with That

The cardiologist’s diet: If it tastes good, spit it out.

~Author Unknown

While my husband and I sat in our lounge chairs watching TV, I read an article out loud that promoted the benefits of proper eating. Ignoring me, he cranked up the volume on the football game and cheerfully crunched on Doritos.

When I persisted in sharing the dietician’s suggestions, he turned to me and said, “You know what your problem is? You believe all that bologna.”

Lord knows I’d harped at him constantly about losing weight. Our golden years were just around the corner, and I wanted to spend them together in good health. But nothing I said or did changed his poor eating habits. He continued to scarf down chips and dip while watching me count calories and carbs. As far as he was concerned, salads were rabbit food. Vegetables? Only if I found a way to fry them. Skim milk — why bother? Exercise was a sore subject — a waste of time. He had real work to do.

One day, I asked what he wanted for supper.

Out of the blue, he said, “A salad sounds good.”

Where’d that come from? I asked him to repeat himself.

I smiled while I prepared a spinach salad, thinking my nagging had finally paid off. Later, I found out the real reason for his change of heart.

Fear.

Earlier in the week, he’d gone for his annual check-up. His blood pressure was sky-high, stroke level off the charts. The doctor gave him an ultimatum — lose weight or else. No ifs, ands, or buts. He warned my husband to go straight to the hospital if he felt tingling in his arm or tightening in his chest.

The next morning, my pork sausage, biscuits and gravy man fixed himself a bowl of Special K with skim milk. At first, I was elated he’d decided to change his ways. He even helped plan low-fat nutritious meals. We switched to grilled foods, whole-wheat spaghetti, and pita bread. Dessert was a no-no.

Pounds melted off him — not me. He lost five, then ten, then twenty. Soon he needed a smaller pant size and complained his belt was too big. Friends and family commented on his weight loss. I was happy for him, of course. But come on, I’d been exercising and eating healthy for years. Why hadn’t the scale rewarded me?

The final straw came one day when I caught him standing with the refrigerator door open muttering about the yogurt I’d purchased. “What’s the matter?” I asked.

He shook his head and turned to me. “Honey, this brand has nineteen grams of carbohydrates.”

Puhleease! There’s nothing worse than a rehabilitated junk food junkie. I kept my mouth shut until it was time to restock the pantry.

In a soft, innocent voice, I asked, “Sweetie, would you mind doing the shopping from now on? I’m not sure what foods will work for you.”

He surprised me by asking, “Why don’t we both go?”

As long as I’d known him, the man had never set foot inside a grocery store. We each grabbed a cart and parted ways with our separate lists. Ten minutes later, I rounded an aisle and stopped in my tracks. There stood my husband reading the nutrition label on the back of a package. I couldn’t stop snickering.

Sheepishly, he looked up and grinned. “What?”

The next evening, I didn’t feel like cooking so I suggested dining out. But no matter what restaurant I chose it wasn’t on his diet. It took all I had to refrain from pointing out the numerous times he’d sabotaged my weight loss plan — tempting me with a deluxe pizza or an ice-cold Bud on draft. Never mind the warm Krispy Kremes.

Fast food was out. By the time he made a decision, my stomach growled loudly. My husband ordered first. Naturally, he chose baked chicken, steamed broccoli and mixed vegetables.

My turn. It’s true there’s nothing quite as sweet as revenge. His eyes opened wide when I ordered a deluxe double cheeseburger with the works. So what if the scale climbed higher the next day? It was worth every calorie-laden morsel to watch his reaction.

When the waitress turned to leave, I added, “and I’ll have fries with that.”

~Alice Muschany

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