Wit and wisdom about domestic life from Dispatch columnist Joe Blundo.

Every American man goes through stages in his eating life. I suppose women do, too, but I dare not touch the subject. My wife reads this.

In the interests of promoting better nutrition and better understanding between the sexes, I've identified the Six Stages of Male Eating.

I should note that I am not a dietitian, just a man with a long history of eating. What better qualification do you need?

Here are the Six Stages:

1. Young adult male
You will eat anything, as long as there's a lot of it. Heartburn is an unknown malady. Fat delights you. You laugh in the face of cholesterol. You can drink beer before 9 a.m. without feeling like a degenerate.

2. New husband
You can still eat the way you did as a single person but not without the risk of disapproval. You have married someone who loves having breakfast with you, provided you're not eating tailgate party food at 7:30 a.m.

"I was looking forward to a romantic breakfast," she says.

"Can't a chili dog be romantic?" you say.

She leaves the room. You think she's upset because you didn't share your

Cheetos.

3. Young dad
Children change and complicate a man's eating life.

On the one hand, you want your child to eat a healthy diet. On the other hand, you realize that the wrong choice of vegetable, when presented to a 2-year-old, can be enough to incite a dinner table civil war.

Are you going to cave into a child's every food whim? Of course not. Just some of them. One day you wake up and realize it's been a year and a half since you had a mushroom.

On the plus side, you're getting all the macaroni and cheese you could ever want.

4. Middle-aged man
Food is still your friend, but now it's the friend who wakes you up at 2 a.m. to reminisce about the pepperoni pizza you ate just a few hours ago.

Also, the long-term consequences of eating, say, a whole roast baby pig in cream sauce no longer seem that far away. You begin watching your diet.

Having long since forgotten how you were at Stage 1, you're horrified to find out that your teenager thinks it's OK to eat chili dogs for breakfast. Where did he get that idea?

5. Empty-nester
At least one number on your health screening is above normal, and you begin seeing death in every chicken-fried steak.

Can a low-fat, low-carbohydrate, low-salt, low-calorie, low-sugar, low-taste diet actually reverse the aging process? You aim to find out.

The experiment lasts until lunch when you just have to have a bacon-cheeseburger to keep going. But you eat it on a whole wheat bun with a locally grown tomato.

6. Aging senior
I have no idea what this stage will be like, but I'm hoping that what I ate in Stage 1 doesn't preclude me from reaching it.