Ready, aim, fire

Escaping the fat police

Ice_cream_cone_1 No, I'm not talking about outrunning overweight lawmen like Sheriff Buford T. Justice or Boss Hogg (OK, he wasn't a cop, but he owned law enforcement in Hazzard County).

I'm talking about being free of those incessant fat-free folks who want us all to eat cardboard so we can live longer. If I get an extra 20 years but can only eat tasteless crap during that time, what's the point? Quality over quantity, people!

Being a woman with body image issues (is that redundant?) I occasionally tried to follow the latest weight-loss trends. I'd spot a diet soda among my full-sugar ones and now and then pick up a low-fat frozen dinner.

But when it came to stuff that depended on fat for flavor, I stood my ground. It's real eggs and whole milk in my ice cream, full-calorie Oreos and beef with enough fat larded through it to keep it from being a dry, tasteless cut of meat.

So I let my taste buds rule and am happy to report that science has vindicated my quest for flavor: Researchers have discovered that a low-fat diet makes no difference in reducing the chances that women will get cancer or heart disease.

The findings were reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association; if you haven't already read all about it, you can find stories in the New York Times, Washington Post and reported on the CBS Early Show's site.

I'm trying not to be too smug about the whole thing, but I am feeling pretty good that I'm not having the regrets expressed by In the Pink Texas: "I've been eating frozen yogurt for nothing!"

And I know, deep down under the 10 extra pounds I'd like to lose, that I still need to be a smart diner. I've seen enough of these studies to know that someone's already working on one that will once again warn us about the evils of fat (or something else I love to consume).

The fact is, there's a place for everything. Extremes in diet, as in politics, are very dangerous -- and both leave a pretty bad taste.

So I'll keep eating ice cream. In fact, I celebrated this study by having a Coke float for dinner Thursday and Friday nights; no, not for dessert -- for my full dinner.

But I'll also use olive oil in place of butter (sometimes) and every once in a while pick up a piece of fruit for a snack instead of a Hostess cupcake.

And tonight's menu: Chicken-fried steak and mashed potatoes (made with Land O'Lakes) with cream (yep, CREAM) gravy.

Olympicfooter_torino2006 Buffet of Olympic winners: I suspect that the winner of the first gold medal awarded at the Torino Olympics, Chad Hedrick, isn't having chicken-fried steak, even though he's a good Texas boy.

Competitive athletes don't have an extra ounce of fat on them, thanks in large part to carefully watching what they eat. That's one of many reasons why I'm a spectator!

Congrats to Chad for taking the top step of the 5,000-meter speed skating medal stand. Kudos also to snowboarders Shaun White and Danny Kass for winning gold and silver, respectively, in the men's halfpipe. Not really my sport, but in keeping with my earlier rah-rah post, which the hubby razzed me about, I'm proud of the guys.

My husband's teasing comes because he hears a lot of my complaints about the problems we have, and create for ourselves, here in the United States. But that's one of the great things about living in this country. Complaining as part of a constructive dialogue is OK -- Honestly! That's what got us out from under British rule, isn't it? -- and so I do my fair share of patriotic grumbling.

But all the Olympic athletes who sacrifice so much to becoming the best at their sports make me proud. So I'm surrendering a sliver of my cynicism for the next couple of weeks.

I'm still waiting, though, for some American women to show the world what they've got!

TODAY'S TAX TIP: Americans obsess about weight and most of the worry is over just a few pounds that could be dropped if we just quit watching so much television (including the Olympics coverage) and simply walked around the block once a day.

Some folks, however, are clinically obese and require extra help to drop the weight or face serious medical problems. In these doctor-prescribed cases, the IRS says weight-loss programs are deductible.

The costs still have to exceed the deductibility limit of 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income, but at least Uncle Sam offers some added incentive to drop the dangerous pounds.

This story has details on medical expenses in addition to weight-loss programs that you can count in an effort to reach the write-off limit.


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