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Thursday, 20 October 2011

Food choices on holiday - and what did I learn about my husband

(Sorry about the length.. got carried away...)
I mentioned earlier that I used to live and work in Sharm El Sheikh couple of years ago, and therefore I do know where you can get good food: I have my favourite seafood place, my favourite Italian, Lebanese, Egyptian, sandwich, etc. places. And every time I go back I make sure I schedule a visit to each of these - they are like tiny little time-capsules for me, bringing up the nostalgic "good old times". And they make good grab too! Furthermore, although it was nearly ten years ago I frequented these establishments on a regular basis, the waiting staff and managers still remember me (not like I'm so unforgettable, but because that's what they do with returning customers). And it feels good to be remembered! Hell, in "my" Italian place the waiter even remembered what I used to order! (fresh mango juice, seafood spaghetti, Om Ali for dessert). It also helped that when I was back in Sharm I was always with my sister - and she absolutely digs the same food as I do. No disagreement, no compromises!
However, hubby hates - absolutely abhors - middle eastern cuisine. How can he, that's still a mystery for me that being one of my favourite type of food, but he does. And he does not let me forget that he does. So this time, first time ever, I had to compromise on my SSH dinner choices - taking into account what His Majesty is willing to eat. We had arguments about this topic, over and over again. It's kind of futile, because he's saying the same things, I'm saying the same things and we never get any closer to compromise. But, because now food should not - SHOULD NOT - be my primary concern, it was much easier for me to let go of the decision of picking our dinner. Which decisions then he reluctantly made each night - still very much relying on my local knowledge.
HSo first night we went to my absolute favourite seafood place: Fares. The original one, in Old Market, not the newly sprung up ones all around town. And of course they remembered me, we got the "managerial treatment", having the boss picking out our catch of the day. The prawns... oh dear heavens! I could live on them forever! Grilled or battered, or fried or in a soup... they are absolutely divine - and HUGE! So we had 10 of them grilled and some battered, and a little lemon sole grilled. We did not order rice or fries or pasta - just the fish, which comes with a selection from their salad bar including tahini, babaganouch, fried spicy aubergines (I love them!) and mix salads - none of these hubby eats. So that all sound very healthy, and it is, don't take me wrong. But being caught up in the nostalgia of my "good old days", I somehow completely forgot that now I have a little band around my upper stomach... you can guess the result: after about 2 bites from the grilled (and juicy) prawns, I was stuck. Cutlery put down, eyes wide open, deep breathing commences... Hubby already knows the signs and panics every time he sees them... Anyway, I was fine after about 5-10 minutes, did not throw up, carried on eating. The secret was, as I learned on that first night: eating REALLY slow, tiny-tiny bites and chewing for England! (I was stuck nearly every night, but haven’t PB’d at all!)
Now that I learned that, there was no stopping me: I cleared off 4 prawns, half the sole and most of the side dishes. We went back to Fares 2 more times during the 2 weeks.
Next day, hubby grudgingly acquiesced to frequent a middle eastern restaurant – all lovely grilled meat, dips, bits of pastry filled with cheese and fragrant herbs or mince. I just love it!!!! But that was David’s downfall... He ate some rice on the side, which I did not. Everything else we shared from the same plates. 90 minutes later he was in pain, running for the first washroom we could find... He got proper food poisoning. Not the usual “tourist-tummy” which so many visitors to Egypt experience, but proper, fully blown food poisoning with all night suffering from pain and constant, non-ending diarrhoea. And that was despite the great medication I’ve got him as soon as he started to feel funny. (The pharmacists in Egypt are great – they can diagnose and prescribe on the spot, they can even give you shots if needed.) So I was happy with the medicines he was given, but he was still tortured by pain all night – he was remarkably better by next morning. I wonder about the irony of the whole episode, though: he hated the idea of having dinner in that restaurant (one of my top 5 favourites), and we have a little domestic before we entered. I wanted to find another place which he’s happy with, he wanted to get this place “out of the way”, so we do not need to think about it again during the next two weeks.
By the way, the fact that he’s got so violently ill after having dinner there gives him a really strong trump card for the rest of our lives every time I’ll suggest eating in a middle eastern place... I know he will keep mentioning this, even when we are going to be frail and old and living on Malta (our retirement plan).

That put an end to any further attempt from me to try suggesting other good middle eastern restaurants during our holiday... Anyway, we both learnt a lot during these first two nights. I learnt (again and more deeply ingrained into my being) to eat SLOWLY and small bites, learnt to let him decide about where we’re going to have dinner, and he learnt not to eat cold rice or fries anymore and to trust me when I say he should take some medication or see a doctor. Major improvements on marriage front! :)

But from this night onwards, I sort of lost interest in what I’m eating. I just eat whatever I picked from whatever restaurants we ended up each night. I still avoided rice and pasta, but nothing else was off limits. I even had massive amounts of Pringles... One night we had dinner at TGI Fridays - everything was either covered or laid on cheese, or both. But the loaded potato skins and battered mushrooms were nice! I just made a point of chewing very well every little bit. But doing that I could nearly polish off the same portions as hubby did. He kept commenting on that: “hmm, it seems you had a lot tonight? How you’re feeling?” or “I’m surprised you finished that much of the pizza...” and other spiteful helpful comments. He insisted he’s doing this for my benefit, and I kept insisting that “I’m on holiday so I eat what I want”. We kept this conversation ongoing throughout the two weeks...
On the last night, after dinner he fancied a “proper” coffee, so we went to a Costa (where else? He’s English, for God’s sake! Duhh...) where I ordered a raspberry ice tea. I’m not an ice tea fan, but did not want coffee as I was very thirsty from a long walk. The tea was sooooo nice, that I decided to order another one to go – where commenced our biggest domestic of the holiday. It started with his comment on me not being in control of my eating again, consuming far too much calories, even more than him, and that’s why I had to have this wretched band put in me which keeps freaking him out even after 4 months and if I just can exercise some willpower I shouldn’t have had it done in the first place because all my problems with overeating come from my compulsion to “have more” which could be easily stumped out by said willpower and it definitely runs in my family (lack of willpower)...

Did you follow? Because I did try and did not believe what I was hearing...!! I was shocked and upset and sad and disappointed in the same time. I hadn’t felt that bad regarding my weight problems and food since months before my surgery! I was devastated that after all I’ve gone through and all the patient explanations and books and pillow talks my beloved husband still thinks what he does. Hell, it still upsets me now, just remembering it! How dare he?! And WTF??? I was so deeply disturbed by his argument, that I decided I’ll never going to convince him and make him a pro-band person (I was even convinced for 10 minutes that our marriage is over...). 
He’s always going to be someone who firmly believe that being overweight is SOLELY down to lack of willpower. I know I will have to pitch my future battles differently, because I have “passive supportive” husband. I made that up, based on “passive aggressive”. But that’s what he is. He’s proud of me that I made this decision, he’s even prouder seeing me losing all the weight. He’s incredibly pleased with the outcome so far and looking forward to more. He’s worried when sees I’m struggling with food and kindly reminds me to chew-chew-chew every single time we eat. But he firmly believes all this is because I could not/want not to push myself away from the table in time, like it would be “ladylike” and expectable from a nice girl. (one more point to put on my “Unlimited – work it out” sheets regarding harmful dynamics...)

What an enlightening two weeks we had...

Do you have someone similar in your closest circle? How do you deal with them? I would really love to know what's the best way, because I'm pretty sure he's not going to change... Any advice? I don't want to be angry at him any more because what he thinks, but it hurts that the person closest to me doesn't want to understand.
That was my opinion about his choice of dinner place that night...

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