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Ida Shapiro knows a good meal when she orders one. Or cooks one. Or recommends one to others.

She’s had lots of practice.

Shapiro, 81 years “young,” of Amherst, has taught weight control classes in Western New York for 40 years, starting after she lost 35 pounds. You can join her at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday or Thursday every week at Zion United Church of Christ, 15 Koenig Circle, Town of Tonawanda. There is a cost for one class, every week, until you reach your goal weight. For more info, call her at 636-3698.

What’s the most important message you try to convey to your students?

Patience. When you lose motivation sitting in a class, you have the support of the other people in the class, and I make personal phone calls.

What are the go-to healthy food staples in your diet?

Vegetables, and I’m a big fish and chicken eater. The right amounts of carbs, proteins, calories and fats. What’s important is portion control and [low-fat] restaurant eating. And labels. It takes an hour to grocery shop now instead of a half-hour, but that’s how people are taking off their weight.

What foods do you avoid at all costs?

When I do have my off days, it’s the sweets that are calling me. Tonight, I’ll have fish and a sweet potato and some mixed vegetables, and a couple cookies for dessert. It works for me.

— Scott Scanlon