Everyday Words

Simple Solutions

October 13, 2004

I was a very scrawny little girl. So much so that I had to wear suspenders because we could never find belts small enough. I hated pants and preferred dresses as they just seemed to fit better.

While a lot of this had to do with genetics and the fact I was born with health complications (almost dying as an infant, had surgeries on ankles), some of it had to do with my diet or lack there of.

I was a terribly picky eater but with reason; I was living with Danish cooking.

Lard on everything, beets at every meal, cheese that smelled so bad and little fishes that smelt worse. Open face sandwiches with unrecognizable things on them and desserts that weren’t what a little child would want to it. I loved fruit and vegetables and plain salami. I didn’t ever eat junk food or candy and pop and sugar drinks weren’t allowed in our home so I knew nothing about them. It was perplexing to my family why I seemed to like all the good foods but couldn’t gain weight and wouldn’t eat dinner meals.

At 10, my mother, flustered by my skin and bones and refusal to eat suppers, finally took me to a doctor . My mother was concerned that there was something physically wrong with me, that I’d have to have tests done to find out why I couldn’t gain weight, if there were problems I had with dinner foods, allergies and what not. Going to the doctor I was afraid as I thought something was going to be seriously wrong and I’d be poked around more than I could stand.

At the office, the doctor asked my mum questions and my mum would answer them as best she could. After a few minutes the doctor asked my mum to leave the room to speak to me alone. She then asked me what was it I liked to eat.

“Chicken and rice,” I replied. The doctor nodded and called my mum back into the room.

“To get your daughters weight up, I want you to feed her chicken and rice for every meal for at least a month. Let her snack on as many vegetables and fruits as she likes. Let’s test this out and see what happens,” the doctor prescribed.

Within a month, I had gained weight and ate happily every night. My mother was relieved and thought the magic diet worked. She wouldn”t know the truth for 20 years.

I often think of this doctor who was smart enough to just be simple. Sometimes there’s a problem and people make up big reasons as to why instead of just looking at the basic root cause – in my case I didn’t like smelly, weird looking food which was a staple in our home. I did like things that came out of our garden and chicken and rice. It’s pretty simple but when the frustration and tension was so high, it was hard to see.