Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Preliminary Bout

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I’ve started a new category in this blog called Lessons from Lulu – excerpts from the first diet book, “Diet and Health with Key to the Calories” by Lulu Hunt Peters, A.B., M.D.  in 1918.  Her diet book is filled with conversation-like advice written with wit and humor.  She appears to be quite a character for her day – bright and witty.  Wouldn’t it be nice if all diet books now were similar? I posted a blog about her earlier.

Apparently, Lulu had a weight problem herself at one point, and seems to have a rather sympathetic  understanding view of “fat” people.  Here is an example. In Lulu’s words speaking to her readers:

From her first chapter entitled: Preliminary Bout

“Now fat individuals have always been considered a joke, but you are a joke no longer.  Instead of being looked upon with friendly tolerance and amusement, you are now viewed with distrust, suspicion, and even aversion!  How dare you hoard fat when our nation needs it?  (Remember this is World War I times).  You don’t dare to any longer.  You never wanted to be fat anyway, but you did not know how to reduce, and it is proverbial how little you eat.  Why there is Mrs. Natty B. Sylmm, (she made up characters) who is beautifully thin and she eats twice as much as you do, and does not gain an ounce.  You know positively that eating has nothing to do with it, for one time you dieted, didn’t eat a thing but what the doctor ordered, besides your regular meals, and you actually gained.

You are in despair about anything but fat, and-! How you hate it.  But cheer up.  I will save you; yea, even as I have saved myself and many, many others, so will I save you.

It is not in vain that all my life I have had to fight the too, too solid.  Why, I can remember when I was a child I was always being consoled by being told that I would outgrow it, and that when I matured I would have some shape.  Never can I tell pathetically “when I was married I weighed only one hundred eighteen, and look at me now”.  No, I was a delicate slip of one hundred and sixty-five when I was taken.

I never will tell you how much I have weighed, I am so thoroughly ashamed of it, but my normal weight is one hundred and fifty pounds and at one time there was seventy pounds more of me than there is now, or has been since I knew how to control it.  I was not so shameless as that very long, and as I look back upon that short period I feel like refunding the comfortable salary received as superintendent of an hospital; for I know I was only sixty-five percent efficient, for efficiency decreases in direct proportion as excess weigh increases.  Everybody knows it.”

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at


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