Danger! Curves Ahead
( Originally Published 1956 )
"I'VE DONE everything I can to please my wife," said Sam. "Except lose weight," I reminded him.
"Well, yes," he admitted. "But I wasn't exactly skinny when I started going with her. One night we were sitting in the porch swing, and when I leaned over to kiss her, I broke the swing down! She didn't think I was repulsive then."
What could I say to Sam? That perhaps the competition was less then, or that his wife's taste had improved? But why try to explain a woman? I let Sam talk on and on until he felt better.
"I bought Ella a mink coat," he said. "And I wanted to take her out to dinner. Just the two of us, to some romantic place. But she wouldn't go with me! She wouldn't even wear the mink coat until we went to the club—where that golf pro could see it!"
"Is that what's worrying you, Sam?" I asked. "This other man?"
"Sure," he admitted. "Who wouldn't be worried? He's a handsome guy, slim and muscular. And after what happened last night--"
He hesitated, unable to go on for a minute.
"What did happen, Sam?" I asked gently.
"My wife told me I looked like a tub of lard instead of a man. And she moved out of our bedroom! Took all her things into the guest room and said, `You're going to eat yourself to death, so I might as well get used to living with-out you.' "
"I can help you, Sam," I told him, "by telling you what to do. But, remember, you're the one who will have to do it. Don't expect to shed, within a few days, this weight that you've taken years to put on. Patience, persistence, and applied knowledge will do it. Don't be like the man I knew who went to his farm in Vermont, expecting to take off some weight in a hurry. He stopped in the general store and picked out a generous-size pair of overalls to exercise in, then on second thought said to the clerk, `Wait a minute—these overalls fit me now, but I intend to lose a lot of weight in the next few days. Maybe I'd better buy a smaller size.' The clerk shook his head and drawled, `Mister, you can't shrink half as fast as these overalls can!' "
For the first time Sam smiled a little. He had a nice smile. Or he would have when he got rid of his heavy jowls and the creases of fat in his face.
"I'm going to put you on a high-protein diet," I told Sam, "for several reasons: (1) Foods with a high protein content have proportionately the lowest calorie count of all foods. (2) A high-protein diet supplies you with the strength and energy you need. (3) Such a diet allows you to cut down on calories."
Dr. Roger J. Williams, University of Texas biochemist and president of the American Chemical Society, says: "The wise choice of foods is the best way to control your weight.
In this way, you take care of your hypothalamus, a vital area of the brain which is apparently one seat of `bodily wisdom' and an automatic appetite control mechanism."
Dr. Williams has new evidence indicating that if the hypothalamus area is well nourished in every way, then your appetite-control mechanism will work properly. You will eat neither too much nor too little, nor will you have to worry about counting calories. The mechanism will prevent your body from becoming foolish about food desires. It will keep you from getting a sweet tooth, for example, which causes such a high sugar consumption that needed proteins, vitamins, and minerals are crowded out, or a craving for alcohol that results in a substitution of liquor for food.
The type of food that keeps your hypothalamus happy is protein.
Protein furnishes specific dynamic action for your body, in addition to giving you all the necessary material for replacing your fat with muscle tissue. Specific dynamic action gives you pep and endurance by forcing your body to use its energy materials. It takes a steak and not a cream puff to make a winning fighter. The specific dynamic action of the proteins in the steak mobilizes the fighter's energy resources so that he can stay in there punching until the final round.
The amino acids of protein exert a direct influence on cell metabolism and cause the oxidation of fats, sugars, and starches to take place with more vigor. This metabolic action of protein makes it the food element which acts as the body's automatic hunger-control. The higher the protein content of your food, the longer it takes for hunger to reappear. Protein regulates your hypothalamus by raising the blood-sugar level and holding it above the hunger line for longer periods of time than the other food elements do.
Before the specific dynamic action of protein's amino acids was known, a man would say that a certain food "stuck to his ribs" and appeased his hunger during the time when his body was called upon to perform physical tasks.
By the time you reach the age of fifty you will have spent three of your years in eating. To make your eating hours enjoyable—without denying yourself the pleasures of food—you need a new philosophy. Plenty and variety, the enjoyment of food, of taste, and of new, natural flavors, are the keys to this new philosophy.
You can develop your sense of taste, revel in it, cherish it, improve and refine it. There is hardly a household in America which has not sacrificed taste on the altar of routine buying, cooking, and eating. Taste, like any other human faculty, withers if not exercised and offered new experiences from time to time.
Redesign your eating in accordance with twentieth-century living! Ask yourself what function eating has in your life. Your health depends on what you eat, and you cannot neglect either your physical or psychological needs without suffering ultimate punishment. Dangerous curves are ahead unless you streamline your eating to a functional art, just as your fashions, your furniture, your automobile, and your house have been streamlined.
The gourmets of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries created many of the food traditions that we still follow. But they were never able to savor the sirloin steaks barbecued on charcoal that are common in the American home, nor could they feast on the finest inspected prime-quality porterhouse, cut from steers especially bred and fed, then aged for tenderness.
Our foods today are so fresh and piquant with natural flavor that they no longer need to be smothered with the rich and high-calorie sauces used to dress up the stale and poor-quality food of yesterday.
Learn to appreciate in your vegetables the flavor that nature bestowed upon them. Once you discover the exquisiteness of natural tastes, real enjoyment of eating can be yours. The answer to your weight problem will be a new marriage between art and science. The delectable natural taste of many foods will offer you a new kind of flavor—flavor that has been hidden from you under sauces or distorted by traditional combinations. Science shows you what food can do for you. How well you use the knowledge is up to you.
Your new eating habits must include pleasurable moments, since the symbolism of food pleasure is a more potent psychological factor than unhappiness over the development of an unsightly figure or ill health or the ridicule of friends.
Choose pleasant surroundings, add good conversation, then eat slowly, and chew your food thoroughly. This allows time for blood-sugar changes, which appease your appetite before second helpings are offered.
Blunting the sharp edge of appetite by changes in eating times which serve to raise the blood-sugar level is known as meal timing. When you are on a reducing diet, if you can succeed in dulling the nagging pains of hunger, the battle is nearly won. Harvard nutritionists suggest the educated nibble —eating as a midmorning and midafternoon snack something that you would otherwise have at mealtime. If such a snack is not available eat a teaspoon of honey at your desk or nibble on some seeds out of your pocket. Sunflower seeds are recommended because of their high-voltage protein.
Do you want to subtract 500 calories or more a day from your daily food intake? Here is a list of high-calorie and unnecessary foods that I told Sam to eliminate:
If you are not aware of how many good protective foods can be secured on a 1,000-calorie diet, try this sample menu that I gave Sam:
1 serving of fresh fruit or ˝ cup fresh fruit juice
2 eggs cooked without fat (boiled or poached) 1 small serving of millet, cooked as a cereal
1 glass of skim milk or buttermilk
Clear coffee or tea
Lunch (or Supper)
Cottage cheese 1/2 cup, meat (2 ounces), or eggs (2)
2 vegetables (1/2 cup of any vegetable listed in Group I below plus 1/2 cup of one in Group II)
1 glass of skim milk or buttermilk
1 serving of raw fruit or of sugar-free cooked or canned fruit
3 ounces (average serving) of lean meat, fish, or poultry
2 vegetables from groups I and II below
1 glass skim milk or buttermilk
1 serving of raw fruit (or of sugar-free cooked or canned fruit)
The vegetables recommended for a reducing diet fall into two groups. Those I have listed in Group I below have no more than 3 per cent carbohydrate; those in Group II, no more than 9 per cent. Only these vegetables are to be used:
Asparagus Beet greens Broccoli
Cabbage Cauliflower Celery
Chinese cabbage Cucumber Endive
Lettuce Mushrooms Mustard greens Radishes Sauerkraut
Artichokes Beans, green Beans, wax Beets
Brussels sprouts Carrots
Collards Dandelion greens Eggplant Kale
Kohlrabi Lamb's-quarters Okra
Peppers Pumpkin Rutabaga
Group I Group II
Spinach Squash, winter
Squash, summer Turnip Tomato juice
The fruits that you may include in your diet are numerous: Apples, apricots, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, currants, gooseberries, grapefruit, lemons, limes, loganberries, melons, oranges, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, and tangerines.
Some of the meat dishes that I recommend are cubed steak simmered in fat-free bouillon, broiled liver, broiled ham-burger, roast lamb, broiled lamb chops, roast beef, broiled chicken, broiled swordfish, baked whitefish, broiled steak, and meat loaf.
The foods you eat are divided into two general classes: (1) the constructive foods that supply material for growth and repairs, and (2) the fuel foods whose oxidation furnishes the heat which maintains body temperature and produces energy. If you were an Eskimo, living outdoors in arctic weather, you would need the fuel foods. But in our modern American life, with its steam-heated winters, you have a real need only for the constructive foods.
Proteins are your constructive foods: they give life and they maintain life. They include the lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products which I recommended for Sam's diet —and urge on you. These are the foods you need in order to stay alive.
You do not need the starchy, fatty, sugary foods: cake, pas-tries, various breads, potatoes, cornstarch, fats, oils, cream, margarine, or nuts. These are the foods which your body makes into fat—fat to ruin your waistline and to clog up your blood with cholesterol.
"Do you drink whole milk, Sam?" I asked, remembering his dairy farm childhood.
"Sure," he said. "Always have. I drink at least three glasses a day. That's the right amount for an adult, isn't it?"
It certainly isn't for you Sam," I said. One cupful of whole milk yields 9.5 grams of fat. Those three glasses you drink load your body down with more than two tablespoons of fat daily. That's why for any adult, I recommend skim milk—either fresh or reconstituted from the powdered variety available in all food markets."
In powdered form, skim milk is now so reasonably priced that even the most stringent budget can afford it.
"But skim milk!" Sam protested. "I don't think I'd like the taste of it."
"That's because you've never tried it," I said. "It has the same wholesome, satisfying flavor as whole milk. It has all the protein and mineral values minus the fat calories which you don't need."
"O.K.," said Sam. "Then it's skim milk for -me—even though it's what we used to feed the hogs back home. But come to think of it, those hogs did real well on it!"
"Another reason for a balanced reducing diet," I told Sam, is to prevent constipation. Do you drink much water?"
"Water?" asked Sam, as though he'd never heard of it.
"You know," I said, "that stuff that runs under bridges."
"Oh, water," he said. "Seldom ever touch it. When I'm thirsty, I usually drink a Coke or root beer."
"You mean you used to," I told him, "but from now on you'll drink water. That's the trouble with most men—they don't drink enough water, take enough exercise, or eat enough of the bulky foods to encourage regular elimination. Every morning I want you to drink at least one glass of cool water with some lemon juice squeezed into it. And no more carbonated beverages. Drink water when you're thirsty."
Water constitutes about 90 per cent of the circulating fluids of the body, which makes it possible for the food materials to be distributed from the point of absorption to the parts of the body where they are to be assimilated by the tissues. Water is necessary for all the life processes within the living cells of the body. The glands use water to elaborate their various secretions. Water is also used for the absorption of digested foods: Ninety-nine per cent of the saliva and gastric juice is water, and 98 per cent of the pancreatic juice. You need about two quarts of water every twenty-four hours for your body requirements.
"You know," I continued, "that I consider lecithin essential to every man's diet, whether he is reducing or not. In a reducing diet it plays a vitally important part, because it actually floats away fat, by way of the organs of elimination.
You, Sam—or any person who is more than ten pounds over weight—should drink two lecithin cocktails every day. It's easy to make: Just stir two teaspoonfuls of lecithin granules into some juice or skim milk."
Your activity makes your reducing diet as individually yours as your thumbprint. Nutritionists at the Harvard School of Public Health point out that exercise and other physical activity have an important role to play in a reducing program. The person who is taking off weight, in addition to following a high-protein diet, must strengthen by use the muscles which have been weakened by the accumulation of fat between the fibers.
"Half of your body is muscle and--" I began.
"Whose? mine?" interrupted Sam.
"You've let your muscles become flabby and weak," I told him. "Now you must work to restore their tone, which, in turn, will help you to resist infection and later on, to delay the aging process. Dr. Thomas F. Cureton, of the University of Illinois, was overweight when he was a young man."
"Just like me," said Sam.
"Yes," I said, "except that he did something about it. He had high blood pressure, poor endurance, sluggish blood circulation, weak feet, and insomnia. By walking to and from work and taking other mild exercise, Dr. Cureton lost 28 per cent of his over-all fat and 46 per cent of his abdominal fat. He restored his muscle tone and stamina, and lost his high blood pressure."
Dr. Jean Mayer, of the Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, says: "Combating overweight by diet alone is like fighting with one hand behind your back. Exercise is the other fist that enables us to deal the knockout blow."
Exercise means physical activity. "A man can think hard for a full hour on just half a peanut," says Arthur H. Steinhaus, professor of physiology at George Williams College, in Chicago. He believes that when a business or professional man feels all in before the end of the day, a lack of exercise and physical activity is to blame. Long hours at a desk are more fatiguing to the muscles than' hard labor.
Moderate exercise promotes mental alertness, provides an outlet for the frustrations of competition and creates a feeling of well-being. When you feel like blowing up, exercise provides you with an outlet that reduces tension.
Professor Steinhaus further tells us: "Most of our fatigue is in the brain, and results from not enough blood getting to it. A little exercise pushes up more blood to the brain." Not, however, the type of exercise that is not followed in a few minutes by a return to normal of the heart action and breathing.
Were you a college football hero? Then you need more exercise to keep your body fit than the bookworm does. You have built up big muscles, and if you suddenly cut down on your exercise, fat will infiltrate all those masses of muscle. One British physiologist tells us, "While it may be better to have loved and lost, it certainly isn't better to have exercised and stopped."
Middle-aged men who subject their bodies to vigorous exercise periodically, aggravate the deterioration of already partially defective hearts and blood vessels, and shorten, rather than lengthen, their lives. Muscle toning is a daily proposition, not a weekend one. During exercise, your heart has to pump four to five times as much blood as under ordinary conditions. After you have reached the age of forty you take a terrible chance when you exercise suddenly and violently. You'd better just walk your dog, regularly.
The oldest living graduate of Harvard University, Milton Mozart Marble, who recently reached his century mark, takes daily walks and lifts five-pound dumbbells over his head each day. Senator Theodore Green of Rhode Island, the oldest man ever to serve in the United States Senate, attributes his physical fitness to his daily fifteen-mile walks and to his Spartan diet.
"You can improve your posture," I told Sam, "without violent exercise. Try standing tall, pulling in your abdomen, and holding your chin up. Good posture is directly related to your feeling of self-respect. An excellent exercise for achieving it is to draw the abdomen in vigorously as far as possible, then exhale. A stooping posture decreases the efficiency of the heart and lungs and injures the work of the liver. If you'll repeat this exercise several times daily you'll strengthen the muscles that hold your abdomen in place."
"I can't draw it in very far yet," said Sam. "But you just wait a few weeks! I'm going to do everything you've told me, and give that golf pro a run for his money. It's not just my waistline that's at stake; it's my wife and all our future happiness. And you know something? I'm going to win!"
The lethal effects of obesity are reflected in the mortality figures for heart and kidney diseases, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and diabetes. It is the most common nutritional disorder in the United States.
Back at the turn of the century, people walked or bicycled wherever they went, unless they could afford a carriage. Today almost everyone rides. Overweight has grown with our prosperity: The number of persons joining the ranks of the obese has increased at an alarming rate. So have the mortality rates increased for the diseases of the obese.
Fat is a killer. Remember to treat it as such!