Margaret’s Thyroid

I know a little girl who works—a stenographer, one of the dearest little girls I know the personification of straightforward, unaffected sweetness. A rarity nowadays.

She has abounding, radiant health and therefore thinks my food hints are jokes. She loves to be naughty about it.

She is twenty years old, was raised in the country; has molasses candy hair, pink cheeks, a creamy skin and eyes that dance when she looks at you.

Whenever I see her with one hand behind her and her eyes unusually a sparkle I know that the hidden hand holds a bag of chocolates or French pastry or some such.

One day about a month ago she happened to be sitting at the correct angle between me and the light.

“Margaret,” I said, “come here a minute.” I put my hand critically up to her throat. Instantly both her own hands covered it and a startled look came into her eyes.

“I know,” she said, “it’s a goitre, but it isn’t very big.”

“Oh, my dear,” I pleaded. “Iodine in your food iodine, iodine in your food.”

Of course she laughed her merry little bubble and that was all that day.

Three days later she came to me of her own accord and with her eyes very serious for once:

“Say, Lady dear,” she said, “where can I get the iodine?”

“Chiefly in whole grains and green. things.”

“But I don’t like that whole wheat stuff.”

“Margaret, dear, you’ll grow to like it. It’s just a matter of habit. You’ll grow to dislike white bread.”

She looked dubious.

“Anyhow,” I pressed. “Couldn’t you eat a table-spoonful of whole wheat or brown rice every morning for the sake of your throat?”

“Yes, I suppose I could. What else?”

“Do you really want to try?”

She nodded.

“Well then,” I said, “the poor little thyroid has been starving for iodine for a long time. Therefore the first thing you must do is to gather together all the iodine bearing plants you can think of and make a tonic which you will take every day for months.”

“How’?”

“Well, spring is just here—go to the market and get the green leaves of all the vegetables (except rhubarb. Never use rhubarb leaves. They are poison.) Get beets, turnips, carrots, young cabbage leaves, spinach, lettuce, celery, onions everything. (Use some of the carrots too.) Cut them up (they occupy less space) and stuff a kettle full of them. Pour on hot water and let simmer three or four hours. As the heat shrinks the mixture, add the rest of the leaves. Get them all in. Drain off the liquor—you should have at least a quart possibly more. Take a small cup of this every morning and evening. Also steep some bran and take that once a day.”

“Is that all?”

“No—that’s your tonic to make up for starving the thyroid. For your breakfasts eat the whole grains—as much as you can whole wheat bread and fruit.

“For your lunches bring some whole wheat bread and get green things watercress, celery, lettuce, radishes—or if you are home fresh peas or an ear of corn. Or just eat fruit and nuts and raisins for lunch.

“For dinners whole wheat bread, two fresh vegetables and a salad as the folks are doing now.

“And oh yes, try to work in some unpearled barley in soups.”

She made a grimace.

“You see, dear,” I added, “none of the minerals come singly. They come together in vegetables, fruits and grains. But the most iodine comes in the green things and the whole grains carry a full supply.”

Ten days later she twinkled up at me saying: “I’ll have to fess up I’m beginning to like the whole wheat bread.”

Of course she cheats a little now and then—for one thing she is a nibbler. Somewhere on her desk at all times you’ll find a box of cherries or a package of raisins. I look the other way. If she must nibble, she can’t go far wrong on fruit and raisins.

I wish it were six months later so that I might be able to tell you how her tonic and diet worked out. But one thing is certain: Her goitre can’t grow any bigger. Not on that diet.

Just for the interest of you girls who work I want to say that Margaret is one of three sisters who work and who keep house together in a dear little flat. They take their turns at being housekeeper for a week. There is perfect harmony between them and they have a lot of pleasure in their little home.

They buy their whole wheat bread most of the time at McFadden’s. Once in a while they get ambitious and make a batch of bread and always once or twice a week a pan of muffins or biscuits.

Yes, it is hard—but not any harder than cooking pork-chops and fried potatoes, and not half so hard as trying to exist on a restaurant diet.