My husband is currently doing a Whole30, and I really can't wait for the month to be over. Okay, simmer down, simmer down. I kid — mostly.
But if you've ever had a partner go on a super-strict diet, you know where I'm coming from. You know, it's Friday night and you want to order a pizza and catch up on Sneaky Pete, but you can't because ... white flour and dairy, and sugar in the tomato sauce, and that pepperoni is surely processed. So instead it's meat and vegetables for the nth night in a row, and that's way less fun to curl up with and eat on the couch.
I'm not here to bash Whole30. (If you're unfamiliar, this article covers the bases). And I get the appeal. For Brian and for other folks, it's a concrete plan to follow. "I don't do well when I just say, 'I'm going to eat better,'" he tells me. He needs black and white, yes and no — a gimmick, he freely admits — to give him the framework for an imprecise goal like "eat better." Considering I've followed everything from vegetarian to Paleo diets in the past (including some punishingly strict ones when I was competing in powerlifting), I've got no room to talk about eliminating vast swathes of the food world.
And we both could certainly eat better; we could eat fewer pizzas, drink less bourbon, consume more fresh vegetables. So, if he needs a made-up diet that exists to sell books in order to do that, I will get behind that. But not without at least a little grumbling.
My Biggest Gripes with My Husband Doing Whole30
1. I miss pizza night.
It's not just the pie itself, although I'm convinced pizza is the world's most perfect food, a gift to humanity — it's the ritual, the idea that pizza is special and we're having it when it's time to relax in our comfy clothes and hang out with our dogs in the TV room and not worry about any of the things that need worrying about. I'm just not going to balance a plate on my lap with steak and carrots and Brussels sprouts while we binge watch The Americans, you know?
I was totally jonesing for pizza on a Friday midway through the 30 days and stopped, spur of the moment, at our local pizzeria for a slice for lunch. I sat outside by myself (well, with my big dog) and ate the piping-hot slice so fast I burned the roof of my mouth. It was a sad simulacrum of our TV and pizza night.
2. And the shared cocktails.
Another tradition at our house more days than not is cocktail hour. It marks the end of the work day when Brian comes home, the dogs rejoice, and he changes into home clothes. When I hear the ice clinking I close my laptop and we meet in the kitchen to whip up an Old Fashioned or bourbon and ginger, or maybe I just have wine. We talk about our days and what to do for dinner, and sip our drinks.
Of course we can do that with other beverages. We've stocked our pantry with a bountiful assortment of fizzy waters, which are a decent substitute, but it's not quite the same. Even though our bourbon budget has been slashed this month, I look forward to cocktail hour coming back.
3. Froyo for one makes me sad.
I realize, as I write this, that we have a lot of rituals. Another is our nightly frozen yogurt. We're obsessed with Yasso frozen yogurt bars and sandwiches (seriously, you should see our freezer when we can find them on sale) and like to have one most nights after dinner. I can't help but feel guilty as I polish off my yummy treat and Brian makes do with his sparkling water. Basically I want a partner in crime here — even though, really, frozen yogurt is a pretty innocuous treat as far as that goes.
4. Going out to eat is basically a no go.
We've gone out to restaurants a few times and I squirmed as Brian grilled the servers — nicely of course. (How exactly is that chicken prepared?) Of course, the servers were incredibly accommodating, but I know how annoying that is, and just never want to be that table. (On the bright side I got to have some food I sure as heck wasn't going to have at home. Donder fries for the win!)
Worst was when we attended an absolutely fantastic dinner event featuring female chefs of Appalachia. Throughout the family-style dinner, my husband had to keep Googling whether each of the incredibly delicious dishes was compliant. If I never hear the word "compliant" again it will be too soon, and this is where I actually did get a little cranky: whole, fresh foods made with love from locally grown, heritage ingredients that reflect a beautiful culture and tradition should not be arbitrarily banned. And certainly as we're sitting at the table with the farmer/chef's wife it just feels wrong. But I stepped in and ate his rhubarb pie quite happily.
5. He's turned into a mild grump.
I love my husband dearly, and this is nothing major, but he has been a little cranky from time to time since he started this diet. Probably because his body misses pizza, froyo, and bourbon.
But Wait, There's Some Good News
I've eaten more vegetables this month than I can count. Really, really yummy ones, like burnt carrots (and you guys, if you're not burning your carrots you don't know what you're missing), dark, caramelized Brussels sprouts, and curry roasted cauliflower. I'm actually craving these things now as I type.
Sooooo my husband is doing the Whole 30 thing right now and I'm not (because: bourbon) but I'm eating all the dinners he cooks. If he would make this Moroccan spiced grilled chicken and orange and fennel salad (from @meljoulwan) and Ras El Hanout roasted potatoes for, like, every meal, I'd TOTALLY do it. (Also Cash may have come the closest he ever has to breaking the sacred dinner table trust ➡️)
We found a chicken dish that even surpasses Jamie Oliver's chicken in milk as my favorite. Melissa Joulwan of Well Fed calls it the best chicken you will ever eat, ever, and this is 100 percent fact. It will destroy your kitchen and take all bloody afternoon to brine the chicken and make the spice blend and grill it and make the dipping sauce and the Moroccan orange salad that blasts it to last-meal worthy. But when your partner is this deeply invested in the diet he'll go to a lot of trouble for a good meal. And that I can behind any day of the week.
Best of all, it's almost over.
Have you ever dealt with a spouse who's on a diet while you aren't? Tell us about it in the comments below.