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I thought I was eating healthy enough. I ate little rice, ate whole wheat bread as often as I could, didn't eat red meat, didn't care for sweets except for the occasional coca-cola, and had a regular diet of fruits and vegetables.

Until I got married.

My husband is a health extremist. And until recently, a health terrorist. There was never a conversation where he didn't passionately discuss what to eat, what not to eat, what the ingredients of so-and-so are, and what ingredients are "very, very bad" for your health, like I can ever remember those names that end with -nate or -nite or -phyl or -phyte. There was no way we would shop anywhere but Wholefoods or Native Sun. There was also no way you could cook and let the food stay uneaten for more than 30 minutes or you'll get food poisoning! There was no way you could buy vegetables that you don't cook within three days. There was no way a piece of sugar crystal was going to get into the house. And eating at a restaurant was a pain—after all, what restaurant serves caged free eggs, grass-fed beef, and organic chicken, or didn't have soy sauce in their food? Occasionally, however, he would order chicken or shrimp with some kind of sauce, and then with a napkin, wipe the sauce out. His part of the table would be a ton of messy napkins that would be such an embarrasssment when we stood up to leave.

Imagine a life where everytime we went out shopping, my husband would look at every item I bought, checking for "very bad" stuff. Then during meal times, he would talk about more stuff that are "very bad" for my health. And if he caught me eating "nasty" stuff (yeah, I hid my food from him), he would repeat his entire food and health tirade that I've heard a thousand times more than I have actually eaten "nasty" stuff.

So I arrived from the Philippines weighing 114 lbs, and a month later I was down to 97 lbs. Now there has to be a balance between looking good and eating healthy, right? I mean, I do have to put in more weight! Obviously, my body wasn't responding well to Wholefoods and Native Sun, having been born and raised in the wild wet markets of Pinas where fish have heads and tails, where pesticide-ridden fruits and vegetables are sold next to open canals, and white rice was the end-all and be-all of a perfect meal.

Belligerent as I have always been, my protest came in various forms: increasing in volume and intensity my intake of "nasty" food as the days and months went by. First I started buying rice—well, brown rice. Then root beer, the new coca cola. Then orange juice, the new root beer. Then organic chocolate. Then Hershey's almond chocolate. Then drop-and-cook Thai Kitchen noodles in the absence of Lucky Me or Payless. My argument: since he didn't think I was eating healthy enough, then I might as well become a full-fledged nasty food eater.

But here's the thing. Like so many rules, there is always an exception. And the exception only applies to the maker of rules, of course. In my husband's case, the exceptions are Osaka and ice-cream.

Osaka is a Japanese-Chinese buffet restaurant. Oh boy, does he love all the "nasty" food in there, except for the sushi. And ice-cream is, well, ice-cream, except that it should be non-gluten and has no artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol. So we go to Osaka and eat ice-cream once a month, or once in two months. There was a time when we were eating ice-cream once in two weeks and since I wasn't a big fan of ice-cream, I didn't encourage or remind him to buy it when we went out shopping.

Now if only the exception becomes the rule, married life would be easier. I mean, seriously, at some point, I thought the huge difference between our food preferences was going to be the cause for divorce. I became so exasperated one day that I actually told him, "Do you really want to live to a hundred and prolong your boring, pathetic life?"

Okay, I didn't really mean that, I just get mean when I go hungry.

Make no mistake, I still would like to eat healthy. But my philosophy in life is like my food philosophy: do whatever you want to do as long as you don't hurt anybody. Translated, food-wise: stay away from the hospital, but eat what you want when you want.

Go figure.

P.S. My husband is catching on—I no longer have to hide my "nasty" food from him. And he sometimes eats my Hershey's.

Cecilia Langlois a.k.a. Geejay Arriola
Jacksonville, Florida, December 2011



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EDITOR
Remé-Antonia Grefalda

ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Aileen Ibardaloza-Cassinetto

EDITORIAL INTERN
Kathleen Burkhalter

ART DIRECTOR AND WEB DESIGNER
Geejay Langlois

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR FOR THE ARTS
Eileen Tabios

OOV 2011 RESIDENT POET
Carlos Bulosan

copyright 2011

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