When you’re living with someone who’s trying to lose weight, your life is no longer your own. This simple truth hit me a few weeks after I had accompanied my husband to the doctor.
Following a routine medical check up, when the doctor asked my husband to lose some weight, I didn’t realise that his words would impact my life too. Like a model patient, my husband began to follow the doctor’s advice with military precision. He drew up lists, worked out a strategy, consulted the experts and made sure that I was with him at every step, whether I liked it or not.
All those bits of paper that had either my daughter’s college schedules, special recipes or even words of wisdom were shelved to the background as innumerable lists of food items involving caloric content and recipes got posted on the wall of the refrigerator. After relentless research, he zeroed in on one particular book and declared that this was the find of his week-long search. “This book tells you all that your grandmother asked you to do and you never did!”
And so it began. At the crack of dawn I would hear the sound of slicing, dicing and grating noises from the kitchen. My husband would be busy turning vegetables into salads of all forms and textures, and neatly placing them in colourful boxes to take to work. I wouldn’t complain as my morning chai would also be served. What I did complain was about the cleaning up after the master chef disappeared.
Anything that was ‘white’ in colour and form was forever banned from the kitchen cabinets. That meant no white sugar, white flour or white rice. If I had nursed hopes of digging into various kinds of baath (not the one that involved water, but the ones with different spices and vegetables on white rice), they became a thing of the past. The sandwiches that I churned out when overcome by hunger pangs now became items that I read as part of the menu in restaurants and cafes. I religiously avoided the food channels on television as they only worsened the ache in my belly.
My friends wondered why I was letting the spouse take over my life to such an extent. But what would they know about living with someone who constantly spoke of nothing but food, and how the word ‘diet’ was to be used as a noun and not a verb? When you can’t beat them, you join them.
My kids oscillated between chiding us (what happened to our role-models) to cheering us (the parents are no longer teletubbies). While my older one, despite being a fitness freak, bemoaned the lack of ‘real food’ in the house, the younger one sneaked in her share of comfort foods into her room on the pretext of preparing for exams. “I need something motivational!” she declared. Certainly her father’s newfangled ideas about ‘my body is a temple’ was nothing but balderdash, and meant to be humoured from time to time.
Matters came to a head when my husband was spotted checking himself out in the mirror for abs or lack of. “Time for a trainer!” The same trainer whom I was refusing to make eye contact with at the gym had somehow sunk his claws into my husband. But I successfully fobbed off the trainer’s foray into our lives by talking about the expenses that we would incur, and how we needed to save for the children’s college fund.
To keep one man’s diet, the rest of the family had to work tirelessly behind the scenes. While the loss of weight was evident in his case, I still had a long way to go, even as I tried to keep up with him.