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Food Nannies

Jan Chait

October 19, 2010

Sadly, I don’t believe I’m going to be embarrassed at having written last week that I think I have another infection in my calcaneus (heel bone). I don’t even know what kind of a bone scan I had last week, but yesterday’s was a tagged white cell scan. That’s where they take some blood, spin out the white cells, mix those cells with a radioactive substance, reinject them, and then scan to see where the cells have traveled. They traveled to the heel area on my left foot. Right where whatever was injected into me last week went.

Bummer!

Oh, well. Nothing to be done except deal with it. I’ve determined that I will be dealing with it with a new doctor.

Aside from my foot, I’ve been thinking about the food police. As people with diabetes, we all know what that is. I was talking to the assistant editor at the newspaper about Election Day and she said she’d ordered food for election night. (That’s when the powers-that-be feed you because you’re chained to your computer pumping out election coverage.)

Back in the day, we had pizza. Now, they have meat and cheese trays, boneless wings, a variety of salads, and who knows what else. I wonder if they need another hand in the newsroom election night.

On the other hand, I never was good at covering elections. The editor sent me out once to some Podunk town to cover the election there. By the time I finished writing down the results and turned around to interview the winners…everybody was gone.

And then there was the year I decided to add a little “color” to my reporting and began by telling about the candidates in their polyester suits, hanging around shuffling their feet and spitting. I was not welcome within those city limits for years afterwards. (It was — still is — a rough little place.)

The editors just kind of put their heads in their hands and decided I should take stuff from the people who knew what they were doing and write the overview.

Oh yeah. There was the sheriff’s candidate I pissed off. I asked him how to spell his name and he said, “It’s in the paper all the time.”

At which point I asked him if he could spell my name. When he answered in the negative, I snapped back, “It’s in the paper all the time.”

That was my ignominious career covering politics. I did OK with business, though.

Food. We were talking about food. I’ve forgotten most of what happened election night, but I’ll never forget what the city editor was always ragging me about: “Should you be eating that?” (Watch me.)

Seems we can’t eat pizza or a sweet treat without perfect strangers questioning if we should be eating that. What tickles me, however, is that they never say a word about that big plate of pasta, or the Chinese meal. Or Mexican.

But now, there’s to be a food stamp food police. At least in New York City, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to ban the use of food stamps for buying sodas and other beverages with low nutritional value that contain more than 10 calories per 8-ounce serving.

I don’t know how I feel about that. To be sure, way too many sodas are consumed these days. When I was young, we got one bottle of soda per week. And this was before 20-ounce sodas. They were more like 8-ounce glass bottles. It was a treat, just like the rest of our once-weekly meal of hamburgers and chips, eaten in front of the television while the family watched The Ed Sullivan Show. It was also the one time we had the TV on during dinner and did not sit around the table.

But to single out a group of people just because they’re low-income is too much like singling out people with diabetes because we are pancreatically challenged. It’s not fair. Will people use their public assistance money to buy sodas if they can’t use food stamps? That would be taking away money that’s needed for rent, utilities, clothing, soap and the like.

Where does it end? We start with no sodas with food stamps and then what? Sara Smarty Pants says those of us with diabetes should probably have the word “defective” tattooed on our foreheads. Is that next, so the nannies will know who else to shake their fingers at? (Or make us sit in the naughty corner if we get out of line, foodwise?)

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I have the right to make an unhealthy food choice on occasion. I believe people on food stamps should have the same right.



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