A Whole Foods Market in suburban New Jersey has become a petri dish for Treitler: She watches as Alethea Lodge-Clarke finishes shopping with her two little boys and a clerk offers a taste of a new soy beverage. Three-year-old Julian (just like his mom) is eager to try it, but 5-year-old Simeon (just like his dad) turns up his nose.
Lodge-Clarke, 35, an account manager for Microsoft, and her husband, an applications developer at Morgan Stanley, met at college in New York City—two ambitious techies who grew up in Jamaica. But they have almost comically contrary diets. Knowledgeable and conscientious about food choices, Lodge-Clarke no longer eats meat; she brews green tea several times a day (sometimes throwing out what she believes is the more caffeinated first draw) and makes drinks from a "greens and grains" powder that is basically dried broccoli ("You have to eat too many vegetables to get what you need," she says). A kitchen check reveals a cabinet full of sugar-free chocolates and Hershey's syrup, but Lodge-Clarke denies touching any of it. "I eat only the good stuff," she says, pointing to the basement, where she has Treitler climb over several pieces of futon furniture and other household detritus to a stash of fine Belgian chocolates stored intentionally—almost inaccessibly—in the far-corner closet.
Budget is not a concern for Lodge-Clarke—on weekends she spends whatever she deems necessary for quality shopping at three different stores: the supermarket for staples, the health food store for anything fresh, and an ethnic market for the sweet yams, plantains, ginger, and mangoes that she uses in Caribbean dishes. She makes brown rice for herself and white rice for her husband, which leads us to his habits. Where she is all steel-cut oatmeal, wild Alaskan salmon, and natural peanut butter, he is Entenmann's Louisiana Crunch Cake, Lucky Charms cereal, and Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia. She feels she must bring home alien things like Doritos and corn dogs—"otherwise I'll hear, 'There's nothing to eat in the house.'" Having been an athlete in school, Lodge-Clarke has a strong, muscled physique, although at 5'5" and 143 pounds, she's still carrying a good bit of pregnancy weight three years after her last child was born and pulls out the bathroom scale only at Treitler's direction. Three days a week at the local gym is helping: yoga, an elliptical machine (which she pedals while watching the cooking channel on TV), and a "body pump" class. She chooses the right weights and knows her limitations, Treitler observes, even though the instructor gives little instruction. But at certain times of the month, exercise makes her ravenous and tempted by the less-wholesome aisles at Whole Foods.
Lodge-Clarke is going for her second postgraduate degree, hoping to transition into the retail hospitality group at Microsoft, and collapses by 10 P.M., often with the two little boys in her bed, while her husband works at his computer until 3 or 4 in the morning. Treitler finds, among all the technical manuals on their bookshelves, one volume entitled The Art of Sexual Ecstasy, which Lodge-Clarke wryly notes dates from "back in the day."
Next: How Alethea gets a health makeover