Visit Number Three to Nutritionist Michele
I do not think I have ever met anybody who includes home-made encrypted puzzles into everyday conversation, but that is what my almost 12 year old daughter Silvie does routinely. A week or so ago, seven year old Thomas mentioned that he did not like a certain movie. Silvie wondered why, so she ran off, filled in a sheet with random letters and wrote above them detailed instructions as to how to break the code. She showed the sheet to Thomas, who, hardly knowing how to read her instructions, hesitated. Without waiting she followed the instructions and blocked out all of the red herring letters and then read aloud to him her decoded message: "Why don't you like such and such a film?"
I should not then have been surprised at what happened yesterday at the nutritionist's office, but I was. Silvie wants to be a vegetarian but remains a very picky eater; she has been tired, bored, sickly and unwilling to leave the house to go anywhere lately. Her mother suggested that I take her along to
My stories about her started with my first visit. I had a bit of a run-in with this health professional (her name is Michele) on my first consultation; she really did seem to be in a bad mood that day. Plus, I have a way of being in-your-face about things I have gleaned from my reading. Face it, our personalities clashed. I remember mentioning to Michele that I was interested in going on Roy Walford's low calorie diet plan if I ever lose enough weight to start it. She opposed such a semi-starvation regime, and mentioned a study that had found that slightly underweight people have a higher mortality rate than slightly overweight individuals. I subsequently read in a debunking nutrition newsletter that this study was severely flawed because it failed to factor out moribund fatties, that is, people who rapidly lost weight and became underweight because they were already well on the slow road to death from cancer or some other grave condition. This happened to my mother, by the way, she was overweight all my life until about a year before she died of cancer, at which time she became underweight, emaciated by her condition. Any researcher who fails to take into account such reasons for being thin has to be either corrupt or very dumb indeed.
Anyway, although I did not agree with Michele on that one, I shut up; on several other issues I was more outspoken and she got pretty upset, as people tend to do around me, I do not know why. In spite of our contretemps, I wanted to take her dietary advice very seriously indeed. A couple of years before I could barely walk from arthritis, had severe and frequent migraine attacks, resurgent acne, and was constantly getting minor infections in toes and fingers. I became a vegetarian, based on what I had read about long-term damage from chronic inflammation. This reduced my problems greatly, and I wanted to gain my health, walk normally again and have a chance at doing some good with my life. So, I tried to take advantage of our clash of personalities and make it into a good thing by painting Michele as an ogre in the kids eyes.
"No, if I take that Twinkie the nutritionist will tear off my head, shrink it and use it in one of her potions."
Keeping this parlous image in mind helped push me to make jarring dietary and lifestyle changes that I otherwise might never have done: I took a 1000 mmg. of vitamin B12 daily; I sloshed olive oil on everything on my plate, I took the time religiously every week or so to make up a huge vat of my gazpacho and a mess of bean salad. Thanks to that terrible image of my next visit with the food Nazi in my mind I did the right thing, I exercised, I ate right more than I imagined possible for me. I went regularly to the local farmer's market to buy fresh veggies; in fact I went so often that this year I am no longer "the guy who walks his bike through," I am actually on a first name basis with many farmers and vendors there. The second visit Michele was much nicer, she was far from the monster I had imagined her, but her legend in the mind of the kids grew unabated.
So while my reason for seeing Michele yesterday was to find out if my cholesterol was better and my B12 count normalized, Silvie's reason was to witness an ogre in the flesh. On the way to