When I was eight years old, I weighed a whopping forty-nine pounds. Let put that in some perspective. Weight is a function of height. That said, at eight years old the average boy weighs about fifty-seven (57) pounds. So an eight-year-old boy weighing forty-nine (49) pounds is about 15 percent below the average. That’s a rather light and skinny little boy.
My Mom always tried to get me to eat. When I was an infant, I would not. My Mom found if she tickled my feet I would laugh and then she could shove some food in my mouth. Unfortunately I would also spit it out. She learned that if she shoved an Oreo cookie in my mouth I would happily suck on it and eat it all down. She called the doctor in a panic, worried that I wasn’t eating and relayed to him what I just told you. The doctor’s reply was, if he eats Oreo’s, feed him Oreo’s. Eventually he’ll eat something else.
Needless to say, Mom was always pushing me to eat more. Not in the way an old southern gal keeps plying you with treats from her pantry. Mom just wanted me to eat something, anything. When I was eight, we were living in Las Vegas. One day Mom got a paper from my hometown in New Jersey. In it was a story of an eight-year-old boy who had died of malnutrition. At the time of his passing he weighed forty-two (42) pounds. Well, that put Mom in a panic. There I was, the same age and closer to the weight of the child that passed than I was to that of an average child.
She went out to the store right then, determined to find a solution. She came home with a bag full of cans of something called Metrecal. Metrecal was a dietary supplement in the 1960’s. It would be similar to SlimFast or Boost or Ensure or a variety of other nutritional drinks designed to replace a meal for those watching calories. It sounds a bit strange, but Mom had a plan.
First of all, the Metrecal she brought home was chocolate flavor, a flavor I simply cannot pass up. She also found something called Space Food Sticks. Developed for astronauts, but eventually rolling into the general public, this was also a nutrient rich meal supplement, and sure enough it came in chocolate and also in peanut-butter flavor. I was informed that I would drink a Metrecal with every meal and I would eat a Space Food Stick for dessert. I could have a Space Food Stick or Metrecal any other time I wanted. Her thinking was, if Metrecal provided enough nutrition for a person to do without a meal, then I would be getting a double helping by drinking it with a meal and a triple helping by following it up with a Space Food Stick. I was going to be required to do this until I reached fifty (50) pounds. She was willing to try anything.
I did not care much for the Metrecal. The taste was very artificial, but I did as I was told and forced down the Metrecal with each meal. On the other hand, I loved the Space Food Sticks and ate them quite often. It took a month or so and I finally reached the magical fifty-pounds. The Metrecal was allowed to leave, but I demanded the Space Food Sticks for quite some time afterward.
Obviously it worked or I would not be here to relate this tale. I guess I owe my life to Nabisco to some degree. My life and my life-long love affair with chocolate. To this day I am not a big fan of food, being a very picky eater with the exceptions chocolate and peanuts. I just do not enjoy food all that much. Everyday meals do not mean much to me. Do not get me wrong. Real meals, dining with friends, the breaking of bread with others that I know, I can generally enjoy. But everyday meals needed to keep the body going do not excite me. I tend to graze, nibbling through the day. I am no longer extremely skinny but my weight has held pretty steady for the last two decades. Neither big nor small, I am an average weight, and holding.