Today we remember Al.

Al was the father of one of my best friends. He ate the most unhealthy diet imaginable. I only ever saw Al eating polish sausage, white rolls, or donuts. Although I never saw him drunk, that was at least partly because his body had built up a great tolerance for bourbon and cigars. I am sure that he accidentally ingested a vegetable at some point, but I never saw him eat one intentionally.

Al’s fitness plan involved watching copious amounts of television and using the car for all travel that exceeded three blocks. He also avoided swimming, tennis, yoga, yardwork, gardening, housework and saunas. He did not, to my knowledge take vitamins.

When Al died at the age of 77 no one was surprised…until we found out that his death was not natural and that his autopsy showed nice clean arteries. Al could have gone another decade on booze, processed meat and sugar.

It is frustrating to have to watch everything you eat while people around you seem to exist on a diet of junk food with no apparent problems. It seems scientifically impossible, yet I know several other people besides Al who seem to be able to live on pepperoni pizza, beer and hot wings without any ill effects.

I don’t know what is different in guys like Al. I wish I did. Time has, however, taught me not to worry about it too much. My lot is different. I am not Al. I have neither his problems nor his uncanny ability to exist on junk food. And I find it helpful to remember that it is actually Al who is the exception. His much younger wife had advanced heart disease just from the side effects of Al’s food choices (she has recovered nicely since his death) and other people I have known who ate like Al died far too young.

So yes, it is hard to watch everything you eat and to never be able to relax. But there are a lot of us and if nothing else I want you to know that you are not alone. The reason that Cosi and Panera have the allergy binder is because there are a lot of us who need to see it. The reason that the TV series House did two episodes on celiac disease is because it is under-diagnosed and yet very common. You are not the only one and you really do not have a strange diet.

Al on the other hand…

We miss you Al!