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How diets ruin dating

Whether keto or vegan, finding love on restrictive diets is no easy task.

Photo: rawpixel / Unsplash
  • A recent Reddit post discusses the challenges of dating while on a ketogenic diet.
  • Entire websites and tutorial videos for "dating while vegan" feature a range of advice.
  • Perhaps having too much choice with food decisions has paralyzed our ability to dialogue with one another.

My wife really loves me. When we met over four years ago, I was vegan. For context, she is the unpickiest eater I've ever met. Her mother is from rural Thailand; and her father's job in the military meant they traveled often and ate everything. That she even attempted to cook vegan Mapo Tofu signified commitment.

I believed I was an easygoing vegan, something you can only understand the folly of in hindsight. My veganism lasted two years; my vegetarianism, twenty. I'm certain there are many terrible dating memories from those decades—and some great ones, when I was with someone whose diet matched mine—that I've suppressed. Thankfully, today when someone asks me about dietary restrictions, I can honestly say "none," beyond a disdain for raw onions and most mushrooms.

Just as one might cringe when looking at yearbook photos, I feel my forehead wince whenever I see #vegan splattered across social media (and even more so when it's #vegancats). I don't take issue with the diet, just the soapboxing, which I was admittedly part of. My body has responded well to a carnivorous diet, just as I respond well to marriage.

One thing is certain: I'd certainly not want to return to dating while on this or any diet. Those battle scars are real.

This reminiscing is thanks to a Reddit post in which a man talks about how his keto diet ruined a date for him. She was a recent graduate of nursing school. He, a devotee to low carbs and intermittent fasting. A recipe for disaster.

I also brought up the fact that I do intermittent fasting, which she then told me was a binging disorder. I tried to explain that both a ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting have certain health benefits, but I could tell I was upsetting her, so I dropped it. The chemistry we had just wasn't the same afterwards, and I don't think I'll get a second date.

If you want to measure the cultural temperature, read the comments on Reddit threads. Or don't, and save your sanity. Beyond the diatribes on the validity of nutritional knowledge acquired during nursing school, discussions of keto take on epic dimensions, as if a new Dead Sea Scroll admonishing carbs has been discovered: "You shall eat no leavened bread with it. In fact, you shall eat no bread, ever."

Because I'm a gluten—er, glutton—for punishment, there are, indeed, plenty of advice columns for DWV (dating while vegan). This one claims it is possible to love a meat-eater provided you read menus beforehand, discuss how you're going to raise your children, and set certain foods as off-limit. And I thought George Conway had tough dinner conversations.

Noah, who spoke to the Globe only on the condition that his last name not be published, sits in the Thinking Cup, a coffee shop in Boston he has used since mid-summer to meet dates that he has arranged through dating apps such as Tinder, on Aug. 31, 2018. (Photo by Erin Clark for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Another keto first-dater engaged in a twenty-minute conversation with the waitress about which beers are gluten-free. He ended up drinking white wine with his potential beloved. Maybe he needs to meet up with this single vegan male who believes that, overall, he just needs to do "deep inner work."

Not to make light of dieting or dating. Food is emotional. It is literally what we are. Our food interacts with everything we're made of. It affects all of our habits, as an emerging awareness of the microbiome and its influence on our central nervous system is telling us. Our very thoughts are influenced by what we eat.

Those trying to figure out what's best for their health and our planet are not wrong. And those trying to find love—well, we certainly need more of it in this world right now.

It's just hard to wrap my head around the fact that after a quarter-million years subsisting on whatever we could secure in order to survive that now, in a time of plenty to the point of excess, we obsess this much over what's on our plate. Maybe optimal performance isn't decided by ketones or yoga or nutropics or cruelty-free glamping, but simply by being grateful you're in a situation that when you wake up in the morning you know you're not going to starve to death, which wasn't the case for most of our ancestors for most of time.

The only advice I feel qualified to give: when they say, "no, really, this gluten-free beer is good," run.

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Stay in touch with Derek on Twitter and Facebook.

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