Another thing that changes is our eating habits. I've always eaten like a horse, but somehow I don't seem to able to pack in quite as much as I used to before feeling completely stuffed and in need of a nice lie down to recover. Not to mention the fact that having slowed down a bit means I burn less calories and the race against an expanding waist is becoming harder to win. Twenty years ago my stomach was flat - concave even - but these days although there may be a six-pack lurking there, it's cunningly disguised under a fat bit which extends sideways to enhance the love handles. I hate it, especially as it's the only area of excess flesh I have. Why can't it be evenly distributed all over, then those couple of pounds wouldn't be noticed? Not fair.
My father has the appetite of an anorexic mouse, and as I seem to be unable to prevent myself from being like him in so many ways, I suppose it's inevitable that one day I too will be satisfied with a main meal that at one time I would have considered merely a starter.
It's not just the quantity that's changing either. Certain foods are beginning to drop from the menu because the body can't deal with them in the same way as it did in the past. Anything containing mustard is now out of bounds, and pasta can't be eaten two days in a row, but the one that's now starting to bug me is the humble onion.
It's got to the point where the smell of onions seeps from my pores and my mouth tastes awful. Even the onion powder used in crisp flavouring has a major effect.
But as onion is present in so many things it's hard to avoid completely, and a chilli or curry without onions would definitely be missing something crucial. Besides, where would we be without the entertainment value afforded by excessive onion consumption? Even at 42 my inner child still finds flatulence hilarious, and it would be a shame to have to rely on peas, sprouts and cabbage without the onion to act as a catalyst to boost the effect to cataclysmic proportions.
In fairness I suppose I've suffered from these side effects for a long time, and not just with onions but also their cousin garlic. Garlic is a wonderful thing in moderation, but on one occasion I fell foul of its awesome power in a big way. About 19 years ago when I'd not long met my wife, a group of us were at the seaside and decided to stop off at a burger stall for some sustenance. There was an assortment of burgers on the list including one that claimed to be a 'garlic burger'. To me this suggested that there would be a little garlic mixed in with the burger meat, so being the adventurous type I plumped for that instead of the standard cheesburger.
Unfortunately it turned out that the vendor's idea of a garlic burger was to slap an ordinary burger in a bun and drop a large splodge of garlic puree on top. Not having paid too much attention to this process, I proceeded to gorge myself. The first bite was the warning shot across the bow, but in my hunger I failed to heed the signs and carried on. By halfway through I knew something was seriously amiss and scraped out the remaining garlic but by that time the damage had been done.
The taste was ingrained in my body, everything tasted of garlic. The odour seeping from my skin was disturbing enough to keep the general public at arms length, and the UN declared a 10 metre exclusion zone around me to protect the innocent from my breath. In the end it was about a week before the smell disappeared and the world returned to normal. Looking back, I'm surprised my future wife didn't turn on her heels and run away.
Due to that experience I'm always careful with garlic and generally use less than recipes call for lest I end up with a repeat performance, but the after effects still linger a while.
I know this issue isn't exactly an allergy; more an intolerance if anything. Perhaps it's only a problem in the same way that drinking too much beer results in driving the porcelain truck, and I'm buggered if I'm going to eliminate beer on the basis that overindulgence results in a psychedelic yawn and a negative happiness factor.
I just need to be wary and face the fact that the onion family simply doesn't like me, while all the time being aware that by the time my meals become the size of my father's, the amount of onion consumed will be negligible anyway.