While it doesn’t make me second guess weight loss..

… this book I started by Susan Yager entitled The Hundred Year Diet: America’s voracious appetite for losing weight is pretty fascinating.

I didn’t realize that the earliest weight loss gurus (mid 1800s) were in it less for promoting healthy lifestyles and more for promoting moral lifestyles. Plumpness ceased to be a valued trait in the wealthy (and anyone else) as soon as people got it into their heads that gluttony really was a sin worth eliminating and if the best way to eliminate that was to eliminate everything that tasted like food, so be it. Improve moral fiber by ditching fiber, or fat, or protein or whatever. It was Atkins before Atkins and a lot of crazy, unhealthy, ideas besides.

Whatever could be done to guilt trip society into looking at their waistlines as proof they weren’t godly enough would be done. It was only later once calories were “understood” (read: identified; few really understood them then, let alone now) and vitamins got noticed that people really started to clue in that energy intake could be measured scientifically. Then they started to get into the fad diets to an even bigger extreme than Fletcher’s crazy 100 time chewing, or Graham and his wafer, or Kellogg and his Battle Creek Sanitarium.

Sugar got a lot of promotion for a reason that should have been a little less surprising to me had I been thinking. Cola took up the space alcohol couldn’t have anymore once prohibition was in place (Pepsi went so far as to offer twice as much in a bottle as Coke sold – 6 ounces – for the same 5 cent price, too). Yager suggests that prohibition is also the reason for the introduction of candy stores and ice cream parlours in the thirties. There was also an increase in all-you-can-eat kinds of restaurants at the time, and dessert-only kinds of places, and they’ve never gone away.

I’m up to World War II in the book now (page 52) and rationing kind of killed the dieting for fun lifestyle that was actually in full force while people could barely afford to eat as it was. People went insane for sugar hoarding even though 8 pounds for a family of four sounds like plenty. Mind you, I don’t bake. Can probably go through a lot if you make your own food a lot of the time.

Anyway, I’m enjoying the book. I’ll write about more of it when I’m done more.

About 1minionsopinion

Canadian Atheist Basically ordinary Library employee Avid book lover Ditto for movies Wanna-be writer Procrastinator
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