“Oh No! Bless his heart”, I muttered.
My daughter’s gaze followed mine to the man standing by his car on the side of the road. “Aww… his car is broken down. Poor guy.”
That was when I noticed the car hood was open, and it did appear he had some troubles. Actually, I had seen immediately that he needed help, I but had not noticed his car. I had seen his belly.
The man was not obese and maybe not even very overweight, but he had a very large waist. His arms seemed proportional to his height and to his legs which may have actually been thin. Yet his belly seemed extended, as if he had swallowed a water balloon and all of the water had settled right in the bottom front where it hung over his belt. Technically, it’s called abdominal adiposity. Medically, it’s called bad news.
Waist circumference is a very obvious sign of inflammation. I had just been reading how one measure that doctors use to diagnose metabolic syndrome is a waist circumference of 40 inches (102 cm) or larger. I wondered if the man also had high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL, or diabetes, additional markers for metabolic syndrome.
I can help you fix your health!
I very much wanted to pull over to help that man, but I had both kids in the car, and I didn’t know where to begin with telling him his health was in danger. I could point him to books and web addresses, but how would I ever start the conversation? “Excuse me sir. I noticed your big belly as you stood by your car. I don’t have a clue how to fix your car, but I’d like to help you fix hour health!”
“I don’t want any money. Not trying to sell you any pink drink or brown shake or make you count points all day. Not trying to make a dollar. I just see that you could have a fatty liver and not even know it. If you aren’t diabetic now, you could be on your way to being one. No. I’m not a medical doctor, but I can see that your health may not be as good as it could be.”
In mind, I’d likely ramble on with good intentions, “So… while I’m not medically qualified to tell you this, I think you should go on a very low-carbohydrate diet. It won’t be easy at first because I can see you’re a native southern fella, and I bet you love some cold sweet tea, but you can learn to drink it unsweetened. My husband did, and he’s lost nearly 60 lbs (27 kg).”
“He sleeps better and has a lot more energy around the house. He used to have a big old belly just like you. He even counted Weight Watcher points, but he kept that belly, and he kept that high blood pressure, but not anymore. He stopped eating breads and pasta and cinnamon rolls. He even gave up Pepsi and sweet tea, and he doesn’t have high blood pressure anymore.”
The imaginary conversation played on in my head, “Well… good luck with your car. You cut them carbs now sir, and you will lose that belly. Oh, and here’s a cookbook. Even if you don’t cook, you might find someone to cook for you. These are the foods that I eat and the foods that helped me to lose over 100 lbs (45 kg) and to keep it off. I ’ve been at this for over four years.”
“Here’s my pictures. Hard to believe, isn’t it? I struggled my whole life. I don’t struggle anymore. I eat delicious foods, and I’m never hungry. That part just kills me. I don’t get hungry. I’ve been hungry every day of my life since I was three years old! I don’t get hungry now. Yep… I wish you the best with that car and with those carbs. I do have a cell phone. Can I call someone to help you?”
I imagine my kids inside of the car calling 911 for the man who was getting the sermon on the side of the road, “No our mama ain’t really hurting him, and she means well but this poor man is having to listen to her go on and on, and she told him he has a big belly several times. Can you please come help him? And if you can help him with his car that would be good too.”
No, I didn’t stop, and I didn’t really say those things outside of my head. We drove past because he looked comfortable tinkering under the hood. He wasn’t trying to flag anyone down for help, and I knew that it was a well populated area in which he could easily find help with his car, but I worried several miles down the road about him finding help with his carbs…