09/26/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Food is a Four Letter Word (Part 2)

To continue the four-letter saga, you should know that two readers accused me of being in collusion with the New York Times headline writers this very week! The most often emailed article listed in Monday's Times was Tara Parker-Pope's "Better to Be Fat and Fit than Skinny and Unfit." Sunday's Television section screamed "Plus-Size Side Show." We are obsessed, darlings, and no, I do not write headlines for the New York Times. I have enough to do.

Parker-Pope writes, "Part of the problem may be our skewed perception of what it means to be overweight." Ya think?

She goes on, "Typically, a person is judged to be of normal weight based on body mass index, or B.M.I., which measures weight relative to height. A normal B.M.I. ranges from 18.5 to 25. Once B.M.I. reaches 25, a person is viewed as overweight. Thirty or higher is considered obese."

Okay, now we get down to it. B.M.I. Body Mass Index. Let me tell you a story about body mass index that's made me laugh for weeks. A little background is necessary.

Twenty years ago, at age 30, I had the great fortune to be pregnant. During that tenure, I developed gestational diabetes. To make a long, tragic story slightly shorter, the child left my body but the diabetes did not. It morphed from Gestational to Type II, and I've spent 20 years both avoiding it and chasing it in the hope of a cure. Not remission, not in control, not managed, not anything but GONE. G-o-n-e. Totally gone. Cured. Healed.

The mantra of the diabetes treatment industry (it's worth billions of dollars annually) is . . . get ready for it . . . lose weight. Well, darlings, I've been a little more zaftig than I am now, and a little less zaftig than I am now, and it hasn't touched my blood sugar. Not no how.

Enter Dr. Francesco Rubino whom I first encountered in a Lesley Stahl segment on 60 Minutes. He's pioneered a surgical answer for Type II Diabetes. It's duodenal by-pass at its simplest, and I'm sure there are many more complications to it than that. Anyway, I tracked him down to a brand new Manhattan practice, and set about getting an appointment.

Dr. R's assistant: "What's your B.M.I.?" Me: "I don't know."

She rattled off the figures she needed to figure it out, then there was a sharp intake of breath and the most comforting voice I ever heard in my life said to me, "Oh, honey, I'm so, so sorry. You're waaaaay too skinny."

I burst out laughing.

I've never been way too skinny for anything since the day after I was born! Turns out I would have to be another whole half a me in order to qualify for a medically-mandated operation. (he insurance companies would, however, be more than delighted to pay for me to have my feet amputated--go figure that!

Well, by the grace of Almighty God, the good Dr. Rubino will be doing clinical trials for we skinny people and he's set to begin seeing patients mid-September. I'm on his list for a consultation.

Parker-Pope quotes Stephen Blair, a co-author of the study and a professor at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, said "Why is it such a stretch of the imagination," he said, "to consider that someone overweight or obese might actually be healthy and fit?"

I might not know B.M.I. configurations but I can answer this one, Professor Blair. Because we have no earthly (or heavenly) idea what really constitutes overweight.

The spiritual lesson? Too skinny? Too fat? It doesn't matter. Forgive yourself for listening to your own old tapes or the ideas of anyone else.

Your ideas about yourself are the ones that matter.


You might even be juuuusst right, like Goldilocks.