Thursday, Jul 19, 2018
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Mary Bilyeu

Thin is not in; good health is

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    "Thin is in" plate.

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Anyone who’s known me for even a very short while knows that I love estate sales, garage sales, second-hand stores, and other venues that offer the thrill of the hunt (and, of course, cheap prices).

As I was searching for deals at a thrift shop recently, I meandered over to the dishes to seek out novelty items for future food page photo shoots. Naturally, there were lots of Christmas-themed plates and a couple of New Year’s Eve champagne flutes left over from previous celebrations. Nothing particularly struck my fancy.

And then, something colorful caught my attention. I pulled it out to look at it more closely and immediately was disappointed. I put it back on the shelf, as it was something I would never use. But it nagged at me as I continued to putter around the store; I took its picture knowing that it would find its way into this column.

The center of the plate featured vibrantly colored foods. Each of the items pictured also showed its calorie count: three for an asparagus spear, 23 for a tomato, 72 for a hard-boiled egg, 8 per strawberry, 150 for yogurt. The foods are nutritious fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. There is nothing wrong with this.

My issue is with the message promoted along the circumference of the plate: “THIN IS IN,” repeated in big, bold, capital letters. This was emphasized with a scale-like depiction around the perimeter and a red arrow designating a desired weight: 125 pounds.

According to body mass index (BMI) charts, 125 pounds is an optimal weight for women ranging from 4’11” with a large frame to women who are 5’7” with a small frame. Outside of this narrow group, that weight is considered too low.

The only numbers that matter are the ones you see on lab work reports indicating your blood sugar, HDL and LDL, c-reactive protein, and other levels. The number on the scale is not important, unless it’s contributing to the aforementioned numbers being askew.

Different people — all of whom have their own metabolisms and individual health needs — require different eating regimens. For example, I feel my best eating proteins, fruits, vegetables, and some whole grains. (This does not mean, however, that I’ve been too disciplined to indulge in eggnog pound cake, Christmas cookies, latkes, chocolates, egg rolls, and nearly every other holiday food that has come within 100 feet of me.)

My boyfriend, Craig, on the other hand, needs to limit leafy green vegetables and whole grains, which are high in oxalates that encourage the production of excruciating kidney stones. This is in addition to his being Toledo’s most famous picky eater and a man with an insatiable sweet tooth, such that our dietary preferences are often battling each other.

Someone with diabetes might benefit from a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet; a person with coronary artery disease would do better with foods that are lower in cholesterol. A woman of child-bearing age requires more iron than men and post-menopausal women do.

There is no one, single, solitary, universal healthful diet. But we should all make it a priority to eat in a way that is beneficial to us as individuals, especially after the heady hedonism of the holidays.

So remember, as you — and I — bemoan the consequences of having eaten with giddy abandon through these past few weeks, and we start making resolutions as a reaction to all the feasting: Thin is not in anymore.

Being healthy is.

Contact Mary Bilyeu at 419-724-6155 or mbilyeu@theblade.com, and follow her at facebook.com/thebladefoodpage.

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