From the Sherbrooke Record
Looking closely at my body, I wonder how a person ends up becoming this particular shape in life. I think I have half a brain and know if you eat sensibly you lose weight. So how come for 60 odd years I have tried every diet in the universe and only a few pounds have fallen off? Is there something blocking a fat cell somewhere or is my lack of diet success just hereditary?
My mother was tall and slender like Rita Hayworth, and my father, who I am the spitting image of, was the shape of a box like his mother. There you have it; no wonder as the years have passed, people say I look just like my grandmother. I have become the junior version of Mary Deller Knight and have followed her quack diet ideas like ducks flock to water.
Mary was a pretty British gal when my grandfather met her on the seashore in Devon, England. She was no “skinny minnie” and had quite the caboose going, but Fred loved her no matter what she looked like. Mary always worried about her size and wore slimming navy blue dresses with her belt strategically located inches below her bust. I never saw her with a full plate of food, and considering how little we saw her eat in public, it was amazing that she did not look like a stick figure. All of us wondered why she was so stocky and asked ourselves if Mary really was what we would now call a “closet eater”?
She always started her morning with a cup of “slimming tea” followed by a piece of dry toast. Lunch was the same, and dinner was a small portion of whatever we ate, with the addition of fresh sliced tomatoes. I only saw her eat a piece of chocolate on Saturday nights, when my Grandfather would go across the street and buy a bar for them to have with their weekly glass of sherry. Personally, I always thought my Grandfather had that glass of sherry to get through the Lawrence Welk program she so dearly loved.
When the slimming tea did not work, my Grandmother read a magazine ad that advised her to take up smoking if she craved sweets. So instead of brewing her tea Grammy reached for a Lucky Strike instead. Seeing no one smoked in the family she did it on the sly amongst the fresh mint that grew on the side of the barn. Every time she served mint on her leg of lamb, I swear all I could taste were ashes and wondered when my Grandfather would catch on. Actually, it did not take Grampy long to find out and he insisted she stop smoking, or she was going to get hemorrhoids. I had no clue to what that was but I just nodded in agreement.
For a long period of time I noticed all these strange things in the drawers of the white bureau in her kitchen. They were $1.00 trial boxes of candy guaranteed to make you slimmer, called Kelpadine, and bottles of Ballard’s Liniment that was guaranteed to rub the fat off you.
Then the sugar company put an ad out stating that a little bit of sugar might be just what you need to curb your appetite. Following their suggestion to have a soft drink before your main meal, she had so much caffeine in her at one point she began to talk fast and slur her speech. My alarmed Grandfather immediately cut her off and he had to wean her like a lab rat getting off of cheese.
Six months later she read a magazine article that stated that a family who ate lard together remained happy. She began to smile as she continued to read because on the other side of the page was an ad for Ayds. It was the worst name ever to be associated with any weight loss product or anything else for that matter.
When she died we found cartons of the “vitamin enriched” stuff in chocolate and vanilla flavours tucked away amongst her folded towels. Mary had finally given in and gave up her grapefruit diets and the plates of cottage cheese. She truly believed that if she ate Ayds before meals they would become her final diet salvation. At last, Mary could eat the vegetables she really loved, like carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie. All was now well in Mary’s eating world and maybe someday it will be in mine. One has only got to hope!
Notes from the Peanut Gallery
“Never eat more than you can lift!” – Patricia Plumber