The Diet – Misery Has Company

Dear READER: What is written here is passed on to you by a fellow who is in the same boat with you, O fat one! If at times I seem a bit harsh, or, to use slang, rather tough, on the obese, please remember that there is a certain degree of self-castigation involved.

With the same problem you have and a huge curiosity about why things are as they are, I had compelling personal reasons for being interested in fat. Being born, so to speak, into a profession where it was necessary to know something about foods and reducing, was a further stimulation to study fat. And finally, through the medium of radio broadcasting, came the most magnificent opportunity anyone ever had to study fat people. That is the why of this book.

We fat people are in a class by ourselves. Those lucky mortals who have no worries about taking on weight will never, never know what they have escaped. They who can sit down to three meals a day and eat pretty nearly what they please, with no concern over weight, have their nutrition problems, too, but they are probably not aware of any. At least that pest of nutrition, the calorie, does not bother them.

We fat people are a large class, both in substance and in numbers. If we estimate the population of the United States at the rough figure of 130 million, we can say that 80 million are over the age of 21. We will never know exactly because the birth rate is going down while more children are being kept alive, which together with the fact that the average span of fife is being increased, does strange things to our life tables. It affects obesity statistics, also, for middle age brings fat to many people.

Very soon one third of the people in the United States will be over the age of S 0, which brings its share of problems. These shifting balances make it difficult to approximate the number of fat people despite the voluminous data insurance statistics give us. The best we can do is make some pretty good guesses.

If we accept the estimate of 80 million adults, we can figure quite accurately that approximately 16 million are overweight and 37 million are underweight. The figure of 37 million underweight is surprising, but it is essentially correct.

The defect of being underweight does not receive the attention that obesity does. Most insurance companies divide overweight people into three classes: (1) those from S to 14 per cent overweight; (2) those from 15 to 24 per cent overweight; and (3) those 25 per cent and more overweight.

The insurance doctor has a complicated but very efficient way of estimating the individual percentage of overweight. He does not draw his conclusions by consulting simple age-height-weight tables such as those on the penny weight scales. He determines the degree of overweight by comparing body weight with the height, the width of the shoulders, and the distance between the tips of the hip bones. If you really want to know how much overweight you are, consult a doctor who understands this method of computing weight normals. You may, if you wish, get an approximate idea of how you stand from the weight charts near the end of this book.

If you should fall into class 1, class 2, or class 3, as the case may be, it is very significant as far as your chances for long life and health are concerned. The more overweight you are, the greater the hazard to your health and life.

Out of the 16 million overweight adults, close to 11 million will fall into class 1. Their death rate is 22 per cent higher than that of normal people. About 4 million fall into class 2, with a death rate increase of 44 per cent. Somewhat over a million fat people are in class 3. Their death rate jumps 74 per cent. About one person out of a hundred fat people is SO per cent or more overweight.

In addition, from 6 to 7 million overfat babies, youngsters, and youths may be added to the list of obese adults. These make an impressive total.

For those who are trying to reduce, we really have something-not only a first-class reducing diet but far more than that: a plan which will enable you to wage war easily, successfully, and comfortably on fat.

The fat person who sets forth every once in a while grimly resolved to starve and deny himself, and winds up after the punishment with ten pounds gone, is not uncommon. Perhaps a month later the prodigal pounds have returned. Fatty pouts “Oh, what’s the use” for a little while. Then, suddenly, when an extra chin bulges forth or the belt has to be let out another inch, he sadly, desperately, takes another fling at his reducing scheme-or a new one.

So life goes for him. Two steps forward, three steps backward. Eventually, he winds up behind the 228-pound ball. That sort of existence need no longer be your lot.

I promise further that you may, if you wish, go through life henceforth with the same attitude that I personally have toward controlling fat-a gay, happy, confident one. Fat really is just a miserable form of SUET, essentially weak and cowardly liquid, that clutters up your body. It is readily destroyed and prevented.

Some forms of body fat are a little tougher than others but the hardiest can be turned into water, some carbonic acids, and gases very easily by putting certain body chemical processes in motion.

About sixty years ago a brilliant scientist, Carl Voit of Munich, demonstrated that geese, who ate corn and grain, could make the starch in the grains into goose fat. Right then and there science started on the road to understanding the problems of overweight. Animal food chemistry was found to parallel that of human beings.

Other chemists studied the chemistry of the sugars in fruits and other foods. In fact, contributions from most of the great chemists of the last century brought light to our understanding of fat-light that told us beyond contradiction that the problem of body fat is one of food chemistry and that alone.

Yes, basically the problem of body fat is one of food and eating habits. No matter how much we worm and squirm and try to evade the issue, that fact remains.

Since men have existed, there have been fat ones and thin ones. The earliest of Egyptian drawings depict an occasional fat figure. The Talmud tells of a rabbi so obese that his “belly was opened and baskets of fat were removed.” The Bible tells of Israel, who ate fats and sweets until he grew waxy pale and so enormously fat that he was “disgusting before the Lord.”

Always a few have suspected the connection between food and body fat. But mostly the relation has been denied. Very likely King Tut’s fat aunt maintained that she “ate like a bird.” Our ancestors may be forgiven, for they were handicapped in understanding fat. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, had taught that – there was only one kind of body nourishment, a “universal aliment” extracted from any and all foods, and that this primary substance nourished the body.

Scientists believed this theory until about a hundred years ago. Then they slowly began to change their minds. Along about 1800, a scientist, Einhoff, fed a cow different grasses and grains for stated periods of time. He demonstrated that foods had different values, although for quite a few years this monumental knowledge was used only in animal husbandry.

Strange as it may seem, the first reducing diet that received any medical or scientific notice appeared in 1863 (the Banting diet). How slow is the march of knowledge! Even more strange is the fact that the principles of this first recognized reducing diet, crude and inefficient, still exercise authority.

Dr. William Banting, enormously fat, reduced himself by cutting down on starches and fats. He lived practically on meat alone. He took off pounds all right-but he eventually killed himself with his unbalanced diet. Nevertheless, Banting became the authority on reducing; we can thank him for a start in the right direction and thank our stars that modern nutrition has guided us into safer channels.

To give you a sort of preview of what is coming, let me say that our way of controlling weight is based on an understanding of the behavior of various foods in the body. Certain fruits and vegetables stir a series of reactions in the body which literally burn fat. It is true that we use the calorie as a measuring rule but that is as far as it goes. Our way is really an Eat and Reduce method. You can carry on in the spirit of a knight who is out to joust with the ogre Obesity. To me, fighting fat is a game of wits, an adventure of which I never tire.

I can add up the score every night by standing on the scales. If I have held my own in weight that day, I am content. If I have taken off a pound, hurrah! Taken on a pound? So what? At least I know why I did, and it’s easy to dissolve that extra tallow, with foods. It is interesting to let Old Man Fat gain a point, too, once in a while, especially if he wins via a delectable piece of pie a la mode. No, it is not exactly painful to take a setback-once in a while. The manipulation of body chemistry by eating certain foods is intensely fascinating.

On our side are the thinning foods; on Old Man Fat’s, the fattening ones. Numerically, the opponents have an advantage, but that is a challenge. Strategy and good generalship win here, as in any competition.

In the United States, we have, more or less readily available, about 250 foods to tempt us, nourish us, and give us our health. Various combinations of these foods, of course, and ingenious ways of preparing them, run the number of edible dishes up into thousands. Fundamentally, there are about 100 common body-fat destroying foods. Perhaps fifty foods that we should eat to balance our diets are “neutral.” The rest are worthy opponents. If we fall for the opponents’ blandishments, we grow fat. To be slim, we have to stick to our partners, and dodge the fattening trouble-makers. Knowing right well who is who among foods, we just stalk our way among the opponents and deftly elude them. We can dine at the Stork Club or its like and take the menu in stride. It comes of knowing foods-that’s all.

You can choose an hors d’oeuvre, a soup, entree, salad, and dessert that cannot put weight on you. Dinner at a good eating place is an extra challenge. It tests your mettle and skill. Incidentally, head waiters, their assistants, and the others who flutter around you with suggestions and temptations respect the person who is choosy about his food. You can win their cooperation by saying, “I am watching my diet, but I am in the mood for a good meal. Let’s see what you can do.”

The trouble with most people who are trying to stay normal in weight is that they don’t know enough about foods to distinguish friend from foe. They are quite lost when confronted with a menu or with the task of buying a day’s food at the grocery.

It is a pretty glum life for them, too, because they are defeated before they start. To them, it seems all the foods in the world, except perhaps six, are fattening. The austere, gloomy, thinning foods they do know are probably abominable. Dieting when you don’t know your foods is like playing cards when you don’t know an ace from a jack.

Many a person not burdened with a tendency to fat can’t conceive of anyone going through life defending himself against foods. But we fatties know what it means. Can you go about your eating with the happy frame of mind and confidence I have? Do you believe it is possible?

It is. I am telling you no lies! Promise to read this book carefully, to give it some study-and I promise that, hence forth, you can enjoy eating and still control fat! Thousands of people are doing so. Their progress is a matter of record.

Perhaps the campaign we have worked out to stay within reasonable bounds of weight may not appeal to you, as far as individual food tastes are concerned. That doesn’t mat ter, really. The principles involved are what is important. You will easily learn the rules-then play your own way. Use the foods you like; the choice is wide.

How the program works out practically, I can best tell you from my personal experiences. At the moment of writing, I weigh 176 pounds stripped.

Seven years ago, my weight hovered around 190 pounds. I felt good so gave no thought to trimming down. Then in 1932 I took a long vacation. A friend took a snapshot of me in a bathing suit as I loafed in a beach chair one July day. He was cruel enough to give me a print of the picture. Ugh! I had that most embarrassing of all experiences-seeing my obesity as others see it. Privately I sought a scale. I weighed 207 pounds. I, who knew that it isn’t healthy to be fat, was ashamed. It was time for me to reduce. I did.

I have used the Lindlahr seven-day reducing diet three times to take off no less than seven or eight pounds in seven days. Since 1932 I have used the principles involved to watch my dietetic P’s and Q’s, and have easily and pleasantly maintained the weight I desired. Best of all, I have always enjoyed each day’s eating to the full, for I believe implicitly that good eating is one of the few joys in which mankind should revel, within limits.

Most people who “take on weight” do so after they pass the age of 30. At some time in the twenties the body tissues stop growing and developing. We usually become less active, too. By then, an individual is definitely past the age when he needs a surplus of nourishment.

Growing youngsters should, of course, eat more than their bodies require for energy and replacement alone. They are developing. Unfortunately, the habits of eating acquired in youth stick to us, and we may continue to eat extra food as adults. In many of us, such surplus becomes fat.

We fatties have a basic problem how do we get that way? We have to look at many factors to find out the answer. Therefore, in addition to presenting diet facts, it is going to be necessary to speculate a bit on why people grow fat, for somewhere among the reasons why fat people in general are $ at is the reason or reasons why you and I in particular are fat. Or, if you please, why we have that vexing tendency to grow fat.

The phrase “tendency to fat” is one that strikes at the very roots of the problem. However, it is clumsy to write; so, for the sake of convenience, let’s coin a word that fits the thought.

“Lipos” is the Greek word for fat, and most chemical terms relating to fat are built around it. The word “lipophil” is defined in the dictionary as “having an affinity for fat, absorbing fat.” By adding the suffix “ic,” we have a word, lipophilic (pronounced lip-o-fill’-ik, with “lip” as in “tulip”), which we will henceforth use either as an adjective or noun, as is done with the word “alcoholic.” That’s us, O fat ones-we are Iipophilic. I am lipophilic. If you have a tendency to take on weight too readily, you also are lipophilic. Remember the word, because that’s what we are-lipophilics.

While on the subject of words, let me explain the term “Debble Fat.” I may use it often; it’s an ingrained habit with me now.

Debble Fat is a name that was coined by Lorna Doone J. . . ., a perfect prototype of Aunt Jemima, and a cook in my household for many delightful years. I never did find out her weight (she wouldn’t even bother to determine it), but it must have been well in excess of 300 pounds.

How Lorna could cook-ah, sweet memories! She liked to be fat and she liked to eat fattening foods. Thinning foods earned her special scorn. She’d pout out her lips when making a salad, and mutter “Rabbit food.” She would “lip” even farther when cooking spinach, cabbage, or greens. “Horse food” was her bitter comment.

Left unguarded, Lorna would wield the grease ladle, the butter spoon, and the olive oil can as a reaper wields his scythe. But we deterred her, almost forcibly. She would regretfully pass by the butter, the lard, and the bacon drippings which she tenderly saved. Not without remonstrance, though-she would point sadly to the grease pots and say, “Debble Fat’s doings, but it’s good.”

Lorna would countenance no interference with her own private eating. That was her business. And she had grown so content with her excess fat that it would have been cruel to interfere.

Besides, she had an unsurpassed gift for choosing the most fattening of foods. Catch her in the kitchen at four o’clock in the afternoon, with a good thick slice of bread laden with butter and goose liver, and Lorna would roll ecstatic eyes: “Debble Fat’s doings. But it’s good.”

To her, the god of fat was no sinister monster; he was just a gay tempter whose ultimate objective she couldn’t fathom. And she didn’t care. Debble Fat’s doings were delightful.