herald

Monday 25 September 2017

Melanie Morris: It bugs me that when it comes to eating, my beau proves men are from Mars bars, women from Venus

When my boyfriend Trevor was growing up, his mother used to warn him that if he didn't eat his vegetables, he wouldn't grow up to be big and strong.

Thirtysomething years later, when not a florette of broccoli nor a leaf of spinach has passed his lips, he stands at 6ft 4in and is built like a rugby player.

UNIQUE

How it happened, I have no idea, but I know his story is not unique.

Basically, I can't believe the amount of rubbish men eat. While I battle away to include every colour on my plate and strive to eat a healthy diet, Trevor won't touch anything that isn't brown (sausage rolls, pies, sugar puffs, curly fries, peanut butter sandwiches) and counts the cherry on top of an iced Bakewell as one of his five a day.

He drinks milky, sweet coffee while I chug through water and the only vegetable he'll contemplate is sweetcorn.

Trevor's recipes usually include the instructions 'remove wrapper and pierce film'. He abides by the doctrine of the 60-second ping. If it can't be nuked in the microwave, in double quick time, it's not his sort of food.

Last Christmas, we holidayed at a health spa in Koh Samui in Thailand. Both of us went for a hi-tech body analysis and he was the one who came out with the glowing chart, perfectly hydrated with super-healthy, active cells. He celebrated with chocolate mousse and a pint of Heineken, before announcing he was starving and in need of two chicken burgers in McDonald's before we had dinner.

Firstly this sort of flagrant breaking of the nutritional rules and getting away with it is not fair. Secondly, why should I bother with the running and the salads and the chickpeas if it doesn't seem to make a difference?

The difference comes with attitude. While what they're eating may not be great, men seem to have a healthier relationship with food. They eat what they want, when they want and don't really think that much about it. Men can stop at one chocolate (huh?) or three jellies (unheard of). Equally, they won't argue with themselves for hours about going to the gym to work it off.

GUILT

Meanwhile, over in the pink corner, we girls are so busy fantasising over chocolate, cupcakes, pick 'n' mix and Creme Eggs, that caving becomes inevitable, followed by a generous helping of guilt and self-loathing before we write off any form of exercise as a waste of time now that we've 'blown it'.

Nurture, nature or both, blokes are just more laidback about the whole thing. I noticed this when cooking dinner for friends recently. The girls were on diets, or claiming to be. One was a vegetarian, who also ate fish, another wanted low fat, and I was 'off carbs'.

The lads just wanted a feed. In the end, and in a lather of sweat, I prepared five different main courses to accommodate my guests, and piled a tiered cake stand with fruit, cakes, chocolate, tiny macaroons and nuts to cover all dietary bases. The Wedding at Cana would have been an easier catering job.

In fairness, the lads would probably have been happier with Pizza Hut's finest, washed down with gallons of alcohol. As would the women, if only we'd let ourselves.

DOMESTIC

Thankfully, on my domestic front, there are culinary middle grounds, which means there isn't a necessity for multiple meals every night. Roast chicken, omelets, scrambled eggs, BBQs. He just accessorises his

proteins with potatoes, stuffing and gravy, I choose greens and mustard for mine.

It's taken me a while to adapt from my single-girl fridge, but now I accept fake butter, trifle and macaroni cheese as the trappings of a bloke. Much the same as I now must embrace a life that involves XBox, large shoes, Sky Sports and Lynx.

But it's the brown sauce with everything I'll just never come to terms with.

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