Diet, Disability, and Dorothy (the Food Fascist)

Article excerpt

This column has a simple purpose but a difficult goal--discuss issues that affect the lives, well-being, and state of mind of those who must live and cope with a disability and do so in a humorous way. Not an easy thing to do, since there is certainly nothing funny or humorous about having a disability or in the obstacles that those with chronic disabilities encounter daily (I've had multiple sclerosis [MS] for 39 years and use a wheelchair). However, I've personally found that humor has, to a great extent, helped me cope with my disability, and I hope this column helps others with disabilities to do so as well.

In this column, I've often spoken about Dorothy--my Queen and noble wife of 42 years--and, without exception, have written about her in the most affectionate of ways.. Not so this time. There is, unfortunately, a dark side to Dot, and it manifests itself in her persistent and inexorable attempts to restrict my intake of food.

For some crazy reason, Dorothy thinks I'm fat and, because of what I consider the smallest amount of flab conceivable around my middle, do not portray a svelte and flattering figure. I, on the other hand, think my build is comparable to that possessed by the Governor of my fair state--Arnold Schwarzenegger. Dot, however, says my physique is more comparable to that of the late Junior Samples, the rotund actor who played a hillbilly on the long-running TV show, Hee Haw.

Dorothy's misconceptions regarding my weight and appearance have prompted her to deny me the opportunity to consume cakes, cookies, eggplant parmesan, brownie pudding, egg rolls, and, worst of all, pizza--the very staples of what I consider a well-balanced diet. She places smaller snack items, such as cakes, cookies, pretzels, and potato chips, in locations that I cannot possibly reach because I use a wheelchair, such as the top of the refrigerator or the highest altitude pantry shelves. The psychological damage this has caused me is apparent.

I Hate It When She's Always Right

I grudgingly acknowledge that the Draconian steps that Dorothy has taken to keep me away from those consumables I love so dearly have been undertaken in my best interests. The symptoms of multiple sclerosis are exacerbated by poor nutrition, which is implicated in far more than weight gain.

In addition to weight gain, poor nutrition may also pose a risk for bowel and bladder dysfunction, depression, sleep disturbance, urinary tract infections, diabetes, circulatory problems, and osteoporosis, among other conditions.

USDA Nutrition Guidelines

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) believes that complying with the following dietary guidelines can significantly diminish the risks posed by poor nutrition:

* Eat a wide variety of foods. …