Maintaining The Ideal Weight
( Originally Published 1916 )
It is well to realize that beauty is more than skin deep. It cannot be satisfactorily "put on." A complexion which is the outward indication of a healthy condition within the body is far more enduring, as well as more attractive, than the temporary " creations " of the cosmetic art. Browning has said, " Art cannot hope to reproduce the faint half-flush that fades along her cheek." Many of the examples of the cosmetic impulse that dwells within the feminine breast are by no means " faint," nor do they " fade " sufficiently along the margin. There may be some who are unable to differentiate them from Nature's own, but few there are who would not prefer sufficient natural endowment to render art unnecessary. Too often these " delicate " tints serve to conceal evidence of poisonous substances in the blood which were absorbed from an unhealthy alimentary canal.
Truly, beauty is more than skin deep, for a large layer of fat beneath the skin not only destroys its symmetry and beauty of outline, but often causes an unhealthy mottled appearance.
Each woman has her Ideal Weight, her Ideal Figure, and her Ideal Diet, closely interrelated. It seems very strange that so little attention has been given to this combination. It seems still more strange that actresses, whose very livelihood depends upon it, have, in endeavoring to preserve something of the Ideal Figure, worked upon such unscientific lines.
It would be foolish to install in a house of ten rooms a steam-heating system sufficient for a building of thirty. There would always be difficulty in keeping a proper temperature. The occupants would suffer a greater part of the time. Various methods would be tried in a vain attempt to keep the house comfortable. But this is the very mistake which many are making with regard to their bodies. They are consuming superfluous fuel and maintaining a fire sufficient for one of much larger proportions. They are failing to exercise. They are accumulating excess weight. They frequently employ the masseuse in an attempt to rub out fat by way of the skin; or try to sweat it out; or at intervals roll on the floor; or exercise in rubber garments. If they succeed in losing the excess, what plan do they next follow? The only sensible procedure would be to adopt the Maintenance Diet and preserve an even weight. But the chances are that they will allow another considerable accumulation of fatty tissue, eventually necessitating the readoption of the same disagreeable measures. It is a continuous process of walking up hill and sliding down again to the end of life.
If one supplies the body with its exact food requirements, there will be no change in weight. Food is an addition to the body; Heat and the Development of Energy, a subtraction therefrom. The Ideal Weight plus the Maintenance Diet minus Heat and Energy Requirements multiplied by (say) Five years, equals the Ideal Weight. The Maintenance Diet and Heat and Energy Requirements being kept equivalent, nothing is added to or subtracted from the weight. This is a simple proposition in mathematics, and just as true as that two and two make four. In other words, if one content himself with a Maintenance Diet he will never need to reduce his weight.
One fact which many city-dwellers have failed to learn is that, since they take almost no exercise, they require very little food. The short distances which they walk probably increase the appetite more than they increase the food demands. A walk of three miles requires an addition to the diet of only one large slice of bread and butter. I believe it is possible to remain in fairly good condition without making provision for regular exercise if the diet is kept very low. This is not advisable, but if exercise is out of the question it is the only course to pursue.
No one would think of applying to other affairs in life the principles followed in eating. If so, milk would be poured into one's glass till it flowed over the table. A fire would be built in the furnace on the Fourth of July. One might fit himself with number eleven shoes when eights would be sufficiently roomy. Why so foolish in the matter of eating? Habit, perversion of appetite, pleasures of the palate, and ignorance of food requirements afford the answer.
Some may consider it a great deal of trouble,—ferreting out one's dietetic needs, entering into the dry field of food values, adding and subtracting, learning new terms unrelated in any way to society, the dance, skating, or the theater; in fact, relating to nothing of greater importance than health and longevity; in other words, using the gray matter, which had been laid on the shelf to rust, in obeying the first law of Nature, self preservation.
Be not fearful! I can assure you that it is not difficult and will well repay the time and trouble expended. Remember that farmers do as much for their live stock; mothers learn to modify milk for their babies.
We eat to furnish protein for replacing the small amount which is worn out each day and to supply fats and carbohydrates (the latter meaning sugars and starches) for conversion into heat and energy. The proteins occur abundantly in meat, eggs, milk, cheese, and nuts; to a small degree in most other foods.
The fats and carbohydrates we group together because they are more or less interchangeable as producers of the heat which keeps the body warm and the energy which is required for every effort, from sitting in a Morris chair to dancing the fox trot till five A. M. Fats are found in cream, butter, olive oil, bacon, fat meat, chocolate, etc. Carbohydrates are sugars and starches, occurring in fruits, grains, and vegetables.
THE COMPOSITION OF A MAINTENANCE DIET
The Maintenance Diet is one which meets the individual's exact requirements. It predicates neither loss nor gain, when once the ideal is reached. It is so well balanced in respect to its component elements that not only weight but health and strength are preserved.
In order to make selection of the diet a simple matter, I will divide our foods into four classes and refer to them as proteins, fats, foods of high carbohydrate content, and bulky foods, according to their predominating quality. The protein or tissue building element in the diet should amount to about one-half gram for each pound of the Ideal Weight,— i. e., seventy-five grams for one weighing one hundred and fifty pounds; sixty grams for one weighing one hundred and twenty pounds. One hundred and fifty grams of meat furnish thirty-five grams. Two eggs give thirteen grams. Each helping of food drawn from the starchy or bulky classes will furnish from one to three grams, and consequently the required remainder will be supplied therefrom. Butter, oil, and sugar are about the only foods which contain no proteins.
The following tables will show what I mean by the different classes of foods. Proteins are meats, fish, chicken, eggs, milk, cheese, etc. Fats are cream, butter, olive oil, fat of meat, cocoa, chocolate, etc. Carbohydrates we divide into two groups:
MAINTAINING THE IDEAL 55 First, Articles of high sugar or starch content.
Second—Bulky articles, containing comparatively small amounts of carbohydrates :
Carbohydrates — Per Cent.
Clear Soups 10
One point regarding the two classes of carbohydrate foods requires explanation. Some articles in the second group contain higher percentages of carbohydrates than a few which might be selected from the first group. This is accounted for as follows-- the bulk of these foods is such that the average helping of the former group exceeds in caloric value that of the latter. For example, thickened soup contains 14 per cent., while bananas contain 22; but the average helping of thickened soup is 160 calories, while the average of bananas is less than one hundred.
The following diet is arranged for one of moderate activity. It is generally estimated that 2500 calories give the correct amount for this purpose. Since many in New York are undergoing so slight a degree of activity, 2250 is more accurate. However, there need be no misunderstanding, be-cause I point out that all degrees of activity above that mentioned require an equivalent addition to the dietary. A few facts may throw light on the subject.
The farmer who arises early and works hard through long hours will require 3500 calories. One doing office work may arise early, engage him-self in various ways about the home, exercise considerably evenings, Sundays, and holidays, thus easily making his requirements above 3000. Merely the nervous temperament of a portion of the human race will account for a development of energy which would seem greater than their manner of living might indicate.
For the benefit of those who consider that they regularly consume a large amount of food but can never gain in weight, inasmuch as this subject will be considered more in detail under Weight In-crease, I will here call attention merely to the great difference in food values, one pound of lettuce rep-resenting less than ninety calories, while one pound of olive oil furnishes more than four thousand. When not otherwise stated, any sample diet I give will be for one whose normal weight is one hundred and fifty pounds.
The proteins have already been discussed. The amount required does not vary with activity, because the work one performs, as well as the body heat, is best developed from fats and carbohydrates.
One ball of butter (one-third ounce) at each meal is sufficient. With the diet which I outline, if some of the other articles were omitted, more butter could be used. I have noticed with a great deal of interest how persons vary as to their selection of foods. Some like a great deal more butter than I have indicated. They will eat two or three balls of butter at a meal. Others use it quite sparingly,— only about one-half ball (one-sixth ounce) at a meal.
Four to eight tablespoons of cream daily may be used. Coffee, tea, cereal, and desserts give opportunity for its consumption in large amounts. I will discuss this further under the subject " Gaining the Desirable." Olive oil as a salad dressing is very nourishing. One or two teaspoons per day is sufficient.
This class of food forms from four to five-eighths of the maintenance diet. I would limit the sugar to four or five teaspoons daily, exclusive of what is used in the cooking. The bread I would limit to two slices at breakfast and lunch, and one at dinner. One other article of high carbohydrate content besides sugar and bread would be allowed with breakfast, one with lunch, and two with dinner. If a rich dessert is used, only one such article can be permitted at dinner.
Of the bulky foods, there will be fruit for breakfast; salad and fruit for lunch; two bulky vegetables and salad or fruit for dinner.
The above diet is sufficiently high in proteins and just covers the requirements of the 150 pounder who is doing office work and takes little exercise. I do not give this as suitable for one with stomach trouble, but for the normal man with whom none of these things disagrees. For each additional amount of exercise which an individual takes, he will need the exact equivalent in food. A pair of accurate scales should be of easy access for every one, and after following such a diet for two weeks the weight should be taken at the same time with regard to meals and in the same clothing. Some do not seem to realize that they weigh more after meals than before. They must consider themselves magicians if they believe that they can put within their bodies approximately two pounds of food without increasing their weight. They seem to think the food does not enter into one's weight until digested. As a matter of fact, they will be a pound or two heavier immediately after a meal than four hours later. If a gain or loss is shown, the diet can be modified accordingly. One weighing normally one hundred and twenty pounds would require about four-fifths of the above diet. All the revising necessary would be to eliminate four hundred and fifty calories.
Those who insist on taking greater amounts of cream, butter, and olive oil than given in the sample, will have to omit an equivalent in some other article.
For each additional activity above that for which allowance has been made, more food must be supplied. A walk of three miles requires a large slice of bread and butter; or a dish of rice pudding; or a lamb chop and a small potato; or two small bananas; or a glass of milk and a cracker. An hour at football requires three large slices of bread and butter; or three and a half tablespoons of olive oil; or two ounces of butter; or one-third of a pound of meat.
I think any one will agree with me that following a Maintenance Diet should not be a great trial. It is not designed for a continual feast. It is not three large meals a day. It does not include a dinner with three meat courses and all side dishes served with rich sauces made from cream, butter, oil, or flour. It is a plentiful supply of nourishing food, with limits placed on fats and carbohydrates. Some persons are very fond of bread and eat it with much butter. Others eat with difficulty two slices at a meal. Some eat bread, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice or macaroni, and ice cream or bread pudding (six articles of high carbohydrate content) at the same meal.
The Maintenance Diet is simply the result of common sense applied to the selection of food. Its choice implies a knowledge of food values sufficient to realize requirements, both as to quantity and quality. It might perchance be fallen upon by one with an unperverted appetite, though this is rarely encountered. If mustard is rubbed on the skin, redness appears. If applied daily, blistering occurs. With this in mind, think how some appetites must be perverted to cause a longing for large amounts of such condiments as mustard.
The interest of the individual in a Maintenance Diet will vary considerably according to the stand-point from which it is attractive. To those inclined toward thinness, the special point of interest will be in what foods can prevent loss of weight. To those who are inclined toward obesity, the chief point of interest will be the avoidance of those same foods. To one who neither loses nor gains, the only real interest of a personal nature will be in the method of keeping the diet well balanced.
It is important to use a variety of food, containing sufficient of the minerals and all the essential amino-acids. This is provided in entire grains and in fruits and vegetables when prepared with the skins, as well as in meats of various kinds. It is important to attain a balance between one's activity and the nutrition supplied. The individual is then said to be in a state of nutritive equilibrium.