Just what you need -- another diet, huh? Weight Watchers? Been there. South Beach? Done that. Atkins? God, don't remind me!
But here's one from 1872. Seriously. And, guess what? It all boils down to eating less and exercising more! (If only we knew!)
I found this book on the shelves of my Little Red House recently. My parents collected a few old books, including a set of encyclopedias from the 1930's that I actually used in grammar school in the '60's. (Hey, I turned out OK) Don't you love old book titles? Our Digestion; or, My Jolly Friend's Secret. As far as I can tell, his "jolly friend" is the stomach.
Here's the dedication page. To "those of my countrymen who are all gone in the pit of the stomach". Our Dr. Lewis is a bit of a joker, huh?
Then we come to the crux of the problem: How Fat People May Get Themselves Into Ship-Shape. Dr. Lewis decribes his readers: in an audience of Yankees, you may find "a dozen uncomfortably fat people -- waddling, wheezy, anti-going-up-stairs sort of people."
Apparently, nineteenth-century New England had it's fair share of "fat ones " (to use Dr. Lewis' term), but those people in Pennsylvania? Jeez-o-Pete! "The proportion of fat ones is very large," especially in a country district.
Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Funnel cakes.
The good Dr. Lewis tells the story of an "immensely fat, panting, red-faced woman" who begs his help. "When I walk in the street," she tells him, "my sister says I look like a Berkshire pig." (Nice sis, huh?) He asks her what her husband does when his racehorses get too fat.
"Why, he reduces their food and gives them more exercise," is her answer.
"Madam, all I have to say is 'Go thou and do likewise.'" (Ah, if it were only that easy...)
She protests that dieting has not worked. "What, starve?" she says. "I have tried that for months together." (sound familiar?) "What I have eaten wouldn't keep a mosquito alive, (I hear you, sister) and I have grown fatter and fatter all the time."
Dr. Lewis counsels her on the particulars of diet and exercise, and adds that too much sleep is also detrimental. He leaves her with these words:
"Madam, my prescription for you is, keep your eyes open and your mouth shut."