Tuesday 24 October 2017

Mid-life crisis: Seems like I might be going vegetarian

A round of applause for the chef: But is this the type of food that would set Brendan's stomach off
A round of applause for the chef: But is this the type of food that would set Brendan's stomach off
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

One of the first real signs that I am getting old is that I am becoming fussy about what I eat. Worse, I am becoming one of those men who doesn't eat certain things because 'they don't agree with me'. I am even getting conscious of my gut and my digestion. I have even been considering a food diary so that I can narrow down what might be causing problems.

There are already certain things I have decided I do not digest at all so I have been slowly cutting them out. Garlic does not agree with me. If I eat garlic it is still there days later, hanging around up near the top of my body. So I have decided scientifically that I do not digest it. I only take garlic in pesto now. Talk about First-World problems.

Red and green peppers are another one. Especially raw peppers. I am of the opinion that no one digests these. They are the cockroaches of the food world. They cannot be broken down.

I know on some deep level that spicy food is not good for me, but I am unwilling to accept that yet. I feel, however, that I am going to become one of those people who says that spicy food doesn't agree with me. Unfortunately, I agree with it, so I am giving it the benefit of the doubt for now.

This tweaking around at the edges of things was all fine and wasn't making a huge different to my life. But something disturbing has happened recently and it is causing me to think about some fundamental dietary issues. It's fairly radical stuff. In short, I believe I am on the verge of becoming a vegetarian, or else declaring myself wheat-intolerant. I know this sounds daft, and trust me, this is so not me. But I can't ignore the science of the gut, and the movements.

I should tell you that I do not enjoy good gut health. I have had the scope (and to all of you out there who have had the trauma of preparing for the scope, I feel your pain, my brothers) and have had a few vaguely sinisterish sounding things removed. I won't give you too much information, but suffice to say there is bleeding involved, which I obviously ignore.

And then, recently, I noticed that the gut was in good nick. I mainly put it down to the muesli. I know. This is sounding dafter and dafter. But I have taken the muesli recently. It's a particular one made by a crowd called Rude Health. I'm not going to tell you which one of them it is because it's hard enough to get it as it is. Lots of shops stock the range but only one shop stocks the one I favour. So every couple of weeks, I've been going into Fallon and Byrne and buying up all their boxes of it. I get panicky when I am down to my last three or four boxes, and start thinking about getting more. At any one time I am going through two boxes - one at work and one at home. It has pretty much become my staple diet. It is my breakfast, my mid-morning snack and my afternoon tea, as well as being my supper. I would probably eat it for my main meals too if I could. No doubt I will get bored at some stage but I haven't yet. And clearly, it was working.

And then last Friday I broke out and had precisely four beers, two pints and two bottles, and I had some steak as well. And suddenly I noticed that the gut was back to its old ways. I analysed the situation scientifically and decided it must be the wheat in the beers. I hadn't been drinking much beer and I hadn't been eating much bread, so the sudden rush of wheaty beer had clearly set the gut off.

I shared this theory with my wife - because I'm an interesting man. And she was having none of it. She would obviously hate me to give up the beer and become either a pious, priesty type or a wino. She reminded me that for no particularly good reason I hadn't been eating a lot of meat recently. And I had some big chunks of it on the night in question. Maybe, she said, it's the meat you can't handle. She didn't use the V word but I think she was suggesting that for gut health I needed to consider low-level semi-vegetarianism.

I am having a massive identity crisis. Vegetarianism or wheat intolerance are things that happen to other people.

I have always been like a horse, and put whatever I wanted into me to great excess with no worries. Truly, we have messed around with the notion of a midlife crisis up to now.

But this, my friends, is the real deal.

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