Thursday, September 20, 2007

Amazing New Diet!

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."

'Nuff said.


  1. I am really chuckling over this. Considering that I live in Pennsylvania and would definitely fall under his category of Fat-Ones. I have lost 90 pounds. But, if you go by that weight/height/BMI calculator from the depths of hell - I'm still obese. I think I look pretty darn good but I think your author would disagree. Nonetheless I would love to read it. For the humor if nothing else.


  2. lol, this article is one of those too funny to find offensive.
    lol. Very insightful fellow won't you say.

  3. That is a sad story. Fat back in those days would probably be considered mildly chunky or faintly big boned today.

  4. How rude! Berkshire pig? Grrrrr.

    Wonderful post!


  5. Too funny! I need to keep my mouth shut and my eyes open too. I have tried everything else...maybe this will work.
    I just found your blog and I'm having fun exploring your blog this morning!

  6. Who knew...
    Sounds easy enough, why don't I do that! Much cheaper than Jenny Craig!

  7. An "antique diet " just what an antique dealer needs.

  8. Oh thats just what I am trying to do at present loose weight!! I'll try to remember the eyes open mouth shut bit!! I'd find it hard to loose weight if I had your kitchen though I would want to be in there cooking all the time!!!

  9. Precious post, CountryGirl....I, too, love old books and have found some great ones that my mom had collected over the years. I have one on Manners that is a hoot.
    Thanks for sharing this "new" diet with us!! ~bj

  10. Brilliant book, just popped over from Sophie's she says your kitchen is like the one in Practical Magic so if it's okay with yu I'll just scroll down a little and take a look.

  11. Rolling on the floor! Oh MY! I love that author! Eat less, exercise if I could only follow thru :-)

  12. What a GREAT book....
    No nonsense medical advice.

  13. Hey! I'm thinking your Dr. Lewis needs to be smacked!! Sure, he may be right...but I think a good smackin' might still be in order. (That's the angry fat part of me talking, you know!)lol

  14. LOL Thank you for sharing this mystery with us. Now I know what my problem is~my parents didn't leave this book on THEIR shelves ;-)

  15. Hells bells - why weren't we given this information earlier!! At least I can now justify to my dh that it's not harming me to sit here blogging half the night!!

    Goodnight Mary - must really go now before I need a trip to the kitchen for a the way your kitchen is gorgeous!!


Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I love to hear what you have to say!