The following is given to you with full permission from my favorite husband, Nathan Payne. He sent these rules to me straight from his computer, where they are stored for safe keeping. My instructions from him were to “not be mean”. The fact that I am writing and posting this while he is out of the country is purely coincidental I’m sure.
My husband Nathan lived in the Amazon jungle with his parents and two brothers until the year he started high school. He can out-eat just about anybody, which you understand if you’ve shared a meal with us. He does not waste food and will eat anything. He has rules that he follows when he eats. He would really like those closest to him to follow his rules as well, but that doesn’t always happen.
Several years ago he started calling out members of our extended family that were breaking “his rules” when we ate together. After ongoing dialogue, arguing and some definite mocking, I believe he first wrote down his rules at his brother’s request. Because it was hard for us all to keep up with how he wanted us to eat, so we really needed it in writing to be able to accurately make fun of—I mean, understand it. One day he decided to post the list in our dining room so the kids would be clear on what was expected. I allowed the list to stay posted for a good long while, but it looked tacky and I finally removed it. However, there is no question that our kids know these rules and are not going to break them at least in front of Nathan!
Nate’s Eating Rules (plus entertaining explanations and commentary)
- You may only have one piece of meat per tortilla when eating fajitas. (Technically, never two meats beside each other if the pieces are short.) This is because he can eat so much that when he orders fajitas, he rations the meat to fill as many tortillas as possible.
- You may not eat hot dogs or hamburgers without buns. He used to get really unhappy after a big meal when he noticed that there were more buns left than meat. He would start looking for the person who didn’t eat their bun and ask them why they did that and what they thought we were going to do with these extra buns. I am pretty sure his brothers did it on purpose.
- You have to eat the pizza crust unless it’s a buffet. This is one of the most widely enforced food rules that I can basically support. We have generally incorporated this at home. Note my use of the words “basically” and “generally”.
- You may only have one slice of pear preserves per pancake. I’m pretty sure this was passed down from his grandfather, who wanted to make the homemade preserves last as long as possible. We don’t really have pear preserves so much, but I think this rule is included because he was so excited that someone else actually had a food rule.
- You have to string the string cheese. This is just dumb. I’ll eat my cheese however I want and right in front of him to be aggravating. If I had time to string it, I’d have time to make and eat a snack that wasn’t prepackaged.
- You may not leave meat at restaurants unless it’s a buffet. This means that he wants to eat the meat left on the plate of anyone in our extended family. Really, if you’re not related to us he wants to eat your meat too rather than let it be wasted, but thankfully he has some type of social boundary here. I’m sure this has come as a bit of an awkward shock to new sister-in-laws on various occasions. No meat left behind.
- You can’t dislike something you haven’t tried. I am good with this rule. If you are unwilling to try something, you shouldn’t say that you don’t like it.
- You can’t give food to animals unless no human within shouting distance wants the food. (Even if the human doesn’t want to eat the food then but would save it to eat later.) I know lots of y’all feed your fur babies, and we’ve never really had an inside dog for this to be a big point of contention. Basically, Nathan wants to eat anything that you would feed your dog other than dog food.
- On a road trip, you must eat all non-snack food in the car before you stop at a restaurant. (And it’s strongly encouraged to take food on the trip.) Nathan and I maybe don’t have the same definition of “non-snack food”. A particular story comes to mind where there were a dozen giant cinnamon rolls from Ikea in the car and we were apparently supposed to all eat those instead of stopping for lunch. Let’s just say it didn’t make for a lovely drive. Also worth noting: “Take food on the trip” actually means that it’s ideal if your wife gets up even earlier and makes tons and tons of sandwiches for the road. The amount of food that Nathan can eat when bored on a road trip is a whole other thing. And it might be a little hard to find motivation to make sandwiches if not making them means that we get to stop at a restaurant. Yea, his plan has some flaws.
I am sharing these rules with you because it gives you a fun glimpse of my husband and our little adventures together. Nathan still adamantly follows these rules and probably always will. Looking at his eating rules again also reminds me how we bring some pretty set ideas into marriage based on our background and life experiences. Ten years ago, as silly as it seems, Nathan and I basically went to battle over whether or not we would make our then-preschool kids follow some of these rules. We were young and inexperienced parents, scared to death that making our kids eat the hot dog bun or allowing them to not eat the hot dog bun was basically going to do irreparable damage. We were not choosing our battles with our kids or with each other as wisely as we do now, and we certainly didn’t understand each other as well. Now I can see how we much we have grown, and how we have both given some and made allowances on silly eating rules and on so much more.