ETCETERA / ANgST: Expert advice on your problems

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My wife has taken up football in a big way and plays for the local women's team once a week. That on its own wouldn't be a problem, but she also goes training three evenings a week - and that includes subsequent 'drinkies with the girls'. I am left at home, after a long day in the office, to cook for our three young children, do all the housework and walk the dogs. I do realise that, in this male-dominated world, causes such as women's football should be given as much encouragement as possible. On the other hand, I do think the situation is slightly unfair. In fact, it is getting out of hand. What can I do?

Most female readers will smile wryly at your predicament. Many women feel they are asked to shoulder an unfair proportion of the housekeeping and childcare needed to keep the average family fed and functioning, particularly if they also have a job. Here we seem to have the reverse. The blurring of traditional gender roles means that it is increasingly important for couples to hone their negotiating skills and find ways of sharing chores. If you feel your wife is being unfair, there is the risk that you may take out your resentment on the poor dogs] You don't say what you do on the other three evenings a week, but I suggest you set aside at least one to spend with each other.

Renate Olins, London Marriage Guidance Council, 76a New Cavendish Street, London W1M 7LB, tel: 071-580 1087.

I have recently changed jobs and now eat sandwiches at lunchtime - brown bread with either tuna fish and mayonnaise, or cheddar cheese and chutney. About an hour after eating, I feel bloated and slightly nauseous; on several occasions I have felt so tired that it has been difficult to stay awake. Apart from the change in diet - I used to have hot meals in a canteen - nothing has changed. Could my lunch have anything to do with these symptoms?

The bloated sensation is very likely to be caused by fluid retention as a result of sensitivity to a particular food. Grains such as wheat, found in bread, and dairy products are high on the list of foods that people react to. If you have started eating sandwiches instead of potatoes, you may be overloading on wheat. You also mention tuna. Fish is often associated with allergies, as are nuts, but this will generally lead to an instant and violent reaction. You could try cutting out wheat and cheese first, eating perhaps fruit and a hard-boiled egg instead to see if the symptoms disappear. If not, try leaving out the tuna. If none of this works, we can conduct an allergy test in our laboratories that covers 74 different foods. It can be done by post, and involves a simple blood test. We send a kit with instructions and a phial for the blood, but strongly recommend that the sample be taken by a GP or complementary practitioner.

York Nutritional Laboratory, Tudor House, Lysander Close, Clifton Moor, York YO3 4XB, tel: 0904 690640.

Our best friends' daughter has just gained a university place, but first wants to take a year off and do voluntary service in a Third World leper colony. Our friends are proud of their daughter's commitment to the underprivileged, but in spite of being well-off they are refusing to finance the project. They say they want their daughter to fend for herself and learn how to handle money. We believe they are secretly worried about her losing a year on the career ladder. We ourselves have reservations about whether the girl is qualified to teach English, but we believe the parents should pay.

Young people often benefit from widening their horizons before moving into the focused environment of academia. This girl's parents are right to be proud of her attempt to set her future learning in the context of the world at large, and I think the matter of funding is probably best settled in negotiation between the three of them. Whatever reservations the parents might feel about money, it seems they are happy for their daughter to go. Your friends might want to contact the overseas agency direct to satisfy themselves that it is sensitive to the way foreign aid is offered.

David Smallacombe, Kensington Consultation Centre, 47 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 IRH, tel: 071-793 0148.

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