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Accept those for their character

By the time we are at and beyond retirement age, we should know how to eat healthy. But can we afford to do it? Those living on a limited and low income may receive some food stamps, but is that really enough to ensure a healthy diet?

I shop for Sister, who has lost over 100 pounds in the last couple of years. I can tell you that she ate more and spent less when she was overweight. Have you bought a grapefruit lately? Just about a dollar now. Lettuce isn't too bad at about a buck a head, but all by itself it doesn't make much of a salad. If not for the local 99 cent store, there would not always be something healthy to eat.

When Sister and I were kids there were often times that we went to school hungry. I am sure there were others in the same boat. Our parents did their best, but that just wasn't always enough. We were the first kids to get free lunches in the cafeteria, and we never complained about the food. Funny thing is, Sister and I were not thin. In fact, we were probably heavier than most of the kids our age. My mother knew how to keep our bellies full with food that was filling.

We ate lots of potatoes, macaroni, beans, rice and that kind of stuff. I do not recall that we ever had fresh fruit or veggies in the house. We had no place for any kind of garden, either. I think people just assume that if you are overweight you must be eating well. Not always the case. Overweight kids can have a really tough time these days. They are often stared at and made fun of.

Teachers, as well as others who interact with children, would surely notice a child that appeared to be extremely thin. That would most likely send up a red flag. But wouldn’t they assume that the chubby kid was eating just fine?

Sadly, this kind of nourishment will often set the pace for a lifelong battle with obesity. When you grow up hungry, you can often think of food as a comfort. If there is enough food to go around, everything is OK. Perhaps this began with one or both of your parents. Maybe they too grew up without enough food in the house.

When I was a little girl I would sometimes steal food from the local supermarket. Mostly candy. A Hershey bar was truly heaven.

There was a time when I would climb over the neighbor’s fence and sneak into their house to get food. The back door was unlocked and it led into the den. They always had a fruit bowl filled with oranges and apples. My sister would hike me over the fence, and I would tip toe into the den and sneak out with two oranges. I was more afraid of my Mom finding out I was stealing than getting caught by the neighbors. It was not until years later that I realized the neighbor knew exactly what I was doing and left the back door unlocked for me. And there was always something to stand on to get back over the fence.

There are those among us that have never had a hungry day in their life. There are others, who even as adults seem to eat at every opportunity. We have all seen the shoppers using the mobile cart at the store. Sometimes it is an elderly person, but more often than not it is a young person who is grossly overweight. Maybe you look at them and think to yourself, "Shame on her. So young and look how fat she is." You may even snicker to yourself.

Having a food obsession is like any other obsession. It does not make sense to you and me. Given a choice, do you really think everyone does not want to be normal and accepted? This is one of those issues that is there for all the world to see. No matter how many times you hear, "Just be happy with who you are,” or “it’s OK to be a large gal/guy." Every single grossly overweight person wishes they could wake up in the morning and be normal. That's a fact. It does not matter if they insist that they feel quite healthy at their weight. At some point in their lives they will be thinking gastric bypass or some other remedy.

They may feel perfectly healthy in their 20s and maybe up to about age 40. But at some point when they either develop diabetes, heart problems, or their joints are affected, things will change for them in a hurry. Keep in mind, I am not speaking of the person who fights to lose that 15 to 20 pounds by going to the gym.

I am not saying that all obese people went without enough food when they were growing up. People do become food junkies for various reasons. Like any other addiction, each case is different. We all come in different sizes, shapes and colors.

Those who truly are struggling with obesity will likely NOT live to a ripe old age. Between type-2 diabetes related problems, as well as the strain on the heart, they may likely shorten their lives by 10-20 years.

So, the next time you observe an overweight person at the "all you can eat restaurant" or shopping at a grocery store using the electric cart, show some understanding and compassion.

Do you really think they did this to themselves because they wanted to? You have no idea what brought them to this point and what their story may be. It really should not matter.

Like the rest of us, they just want to be accepted for who they are on the inside.