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SLIM DOWN? FAT CHANCE!

by Rose Madeline Mula

Obesity has become a huge problem, so to speak, not only in the United States, but worldwide, including the Orient, where tubbiness was practically unknown, except for Japan’s Sumo wrestlers, before the invasion of McDonald’s and other purveyors of American junk food.

Is this international epidemic of corpulence our fault? Partly. But not entirely. In post World War II Germany, for example, portliness was desirable because it signified wealth. The more wiener schnitzel and strudel Herr and Frau Schmidt could afford to eat, the richer they were, so they proudly paraded their poundage before their skinnier, less affluent countrymen.

During that same post-war period, well-heeled Americans indulged in expensive toys — yachts, Lamborghinis, and private planes, instead of rich tortes. Diamonds and designer duds instead of goulash and gesundheitwurst. They joined exclusive country clubs and worked off their champagne and caviar calories by playing golf, squash, and other games of the idle rich. They nursed tennis elbows instead of gourmand-induced gout. In short, among wealthy Americans, thin was in. “You can never be too thin or too rich,” was the mantra of the day.

Not any more. Oh, we may still believe it, but it seems we’ve given up trying to achieve it. Why have so many of our citizens, from toddlers to tottering seniors, become so obese they can barely waddle ten steps without wheezing and whining?

It isn’t just because of what they’re eating; it’s also how much. Who can say no when asked, “Do you want fries with that?” (They smell so good!) Further, who can resist an offer to super-size those fries and all the other unhealthy menu choices? Is it any surprise that something called a “Whopper” is not a diet food? And are you naive enough to think that washing it down with a half-gallon of liquid sugar is going to flush it out of your system before it has a chance to establish a beachhead in your abdomen?

I have also noticed that no food items come in “small” any more, with one exception. A local ice cream stand actually does offer large, medium, small, and baby cones. I won’t attempt to describe the first three choices. Suffice it to say that the “baby” cone is large enough to satisfy a baby rhino. As for other foods, we can usually choose from “regular” (which is huge), “medium” (humongous), and “large” (“roll out the wheelbarrow, Mama; you can’t carry this yourself”).

Even more ridiculous, today I went to my hospital for a cholesterol blood test. I then had a half hour to kill before the time of an appointment with my doctor. Since I had fasted from the previous evening, I was hungry and decided to splurge with coffee and a bagel and cream cheese in the hospital cafeteria while I waited. I couldn’t believe what I saw. Were those really bagels on that tray? They were large and dense enough to serve as tires for a Mack truck. And since they were so hefty, I needed four packets of cream cheese just to thinly cover the entire surface. But I would eat only half, I promised myself. Of course I broke that promise. And I didn’t even enjoy it. Each guilty mouthful tasted like cardboard. But I soldiered on and ate the whole thing while praying that my doctor couldn’t insist on weighing me prior to my examination.

If this is what they’re offering in the cafeterias of hospitals, which preach healthy diets, it’s no wonder that commercial eateries now serve amounts of food suitable for slopping the hogs.

Case in point: A friend and I recently shared an entrée meant for one at a nearby Italian restaurant. We each ate enough pasta and meatballs to fuel us through the next week (and neither of us has a dainty appetite); and I brought home the leftovers, which provided three additional substantial meals.Talk about too much of a good thing.

Unfortunately, as portion sizes increase, my will power decreases. This is not good. I must exercise control — or at least exercise … period. And I would, except exercise really makes me hungry. In fact, just thinking about exercise makes me hungry.

Would you pass me a tiny piece of that raspberry cheesecake, please…

Oh, what the heck — supersize it.

Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through Amazon.com and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.

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