( Originally Published 1929 )
SUGAR, particularly in its concentrated forms, is your arch enemy. It adds tremendously to your caloric intake. Three harmless teaspoons of. granulated sugar, or four humble-looking lumps, equal about one hundred calories. You would never believe that they contribute as much to your weight as a whole dish of coleslaw.
The eating of sugar creates an appetite for other sweets and discourages the eating of more whole-some foods.
Sweets of all kinds have satiety value but if used with a reducing diet they should be taken in low caloric amounts to satisfy taste instead of hunger. It is not the use of a thing that harms—it is the abuse.
Let us quote various authorities.
Dr. McCollum says:
"Sugar contains no structural materials, no vitamins, and no mineral elements. The average American now takes about one-sixth of his daily energy supply in the form of sugar. This crowds out of the diet an equivalent amount of other food which, if used instead of sugar would supply all the things in which sugar is lacking."
Dr. McLester says:
"The abuse of sugar has definite disadvantages. The ingestion of too much sucrose may result in the direct absorption of some of it and its excretion by the kidneys as a foreign body. Concentrated sugary masses in the stomach have a tendency to absorb water and thus cause irritation; the frequent eating of large quantities of sweets may lead to inflammation of the gastric mucosa. Sugars are slow to leave the stomach, and this retardation may result in fermentation with the production of irritating substances. The eating of an excessive amount of sweets causes the consumption of less of vegetables, fruits and other necessary foods. This some-times leads to actual dietary deficiency. The addition of large quantities of sugar also disguises the natural flavor of the food and eventually blunts the finer tastes."
Everybody knows that soft drinks at soda fountains sweetened with syrups are extremely fattening. This is particularly true when they are taken to reinforce a meal. Conversely, if they be taken as substitutes for a normal meal, as is all too frequently the practice, especially among office workers, they constitute a grave menace. Why? Because they contain insufficient food variety and value. Thus they constitute a real health hazard even though as substitutes for meals they may fail to contain sufficient calories to be a serious factor in weight increase.
Saccharin may be used for sweetening in cases of obesity, diabetes or where sugar is otherwise inadvisable. It is probably harmless up to six grains per day, but there is evidence that an intake of fifteen grains daily is harmful to the human body. It is not advised for children and the aged. It has no food value whatever.
Meat Diet in Obesity
A meat diet in obesity is particularly desirable where certain stomach or intestinal complications require alimentary rest.
Schellang believes meat worthy of first place in an obesity diet. It has a definitely stimulative effect on cell activity. During its use, however, fluid in-take must be severely curtailed because the tissues have a tendency to retain water. During the first two weeks, Schellang advises giving a diuretic.
Meat is one of the best low residue foods available. It has particularly high satiety value.
The leaner the meat the better it is for reduction, but a little fat is necessary inasmuch as an exclusive lean meat diet will produce diarrhoea in a very short time. Fat may take the place of carbohydrate in body metabolism.
That even an exclusive meat diet for a period of several years results in no bodily damage has been proven in the case of Stefansson who spent eleven years in the Arctic Circle, during three years of which he ate meat exclusively. That climate or physical activity are not responsible for such tolerance of a meat diet has been proven by recent experiments on the two explorers Stefansson and Anderson under the supervision of the author at the Russell Sage Institute of Pathology at Bellevue Hospital. These two men recently completed a twelve months' diet of meat and meat alone. Every known laboratory and clinical test that would reveal injury to organ or function was made on these men at regular intervals. The completion of the year finds them in just as good health as before they started the meat diet. All tests indicate that no harm resulted. The men stood the summer's heat better than usual and in the case of one the blood pressure, which was slightly elevated at the start, showed a reduction to normal.
These men were normal in weight at the start of the experiment and practically maintained their weight throughout. They, of course, ate according to appetite.
Bread and Toast
One of the best-known authorities on obesity has said, "The most common mistake in nutrition is immoderation in the consumption of bread. Ninety per cent of my clientele brought about weight in-crease in this way."
One ordinary slice of bread contains one hundred calories. In sharp contrast the same one hundred calories are contained in an ordinary pat or ball of butter. It will be seen at once, therefore, that the pernicious habit which obtains among the non-obese as well as among the obese, of munching away at buttered bread and rolls when waiting for other food to be served, may easily add two or three hundred calories to the food intake be-fore a meal has actually started.
It is not only the bread but what is spread on top of it that constitutes the real hazard.
One of the commonest beliefs among fat people is that when they order toast rather than bread they are combating obesity. Actually, a slice of toast is more fattening than a slice of bread. The process of toasting evaporates the moisture from the bread and the starch in it is converted to sugar with the result that the bread can then be more easily assimilated. The dextrinization (the con-version of the starch into sugar) which normally takes place in the mouth and intestine, has been done by the cooking. Toast is therefore a sort of predigested food.
Moreover, because of the lighter weight of toast, one eats more of it than one would of bread. And in the process one naturally consumes more butter.
Whole Wheat Bread
There has been a popular fancy for whole wheat bread and the public thinks of it as decidedly less fattening than its white brother. Actually, how-ever, whole wheat bread which contains one hundred caloric units in every forty-one grams is al-most as fattening as white bread which contains one hundred caloric units in every thirty-eight grams.
Gluten bread is advisable in obesity, because the starch components have been removed. But be sure that you get the genuine, particularly if your sugar metabolism is abnormal, for much of the so-called gluten bread contains large percentages of white flour. Slice for slice its caloric value is practically the same but its satiety value is greater. It should always be toasted. It is particularly recommended to those who suffer from "starchy in-digestion."
Crackers and Cheese
An average portion of cheese of any variety, except cottage cheese, contains one hundred calories. So the toasted crackers which seem to beg first for a coat of butter, then for a layer of cheese, must be eyed with suspicion.
The crackers alone, without being fortified by butter and cheese, are heavy in food value. Two of medium size contain one hundred calories.
The Much Maligned Potato
Potatoes, despite the innuendo and slander that are heaped upon them, are not so fattening as is commonly supposed.
One reason is that they contain seventy-five per cent of water. By weight they are composed of only about twenty per cent of starch. To put it another way, one hundred grams of potatoes, that is to say about six full tablespoons, contain one hundred calories.
The potato is close to wheat in actual fuel value, but it contains so much water that four times as much potato as wheat must be eaten in order to obtain the same amount of nourishment.
The potato is therefore a better friend of the corpulent than bread, rice, macaroni or any of the other starches, particularly if eaten in their jackets. Deficiency disorders are rare where potatoes enter liberally into the diet.
Although the potato is predominantly starch, evidence is becoming more conclusive that the protein in the potato, small though it may be in quantity, is of high nutritive value.
Potatoes are an exception to the rule that starchy foods are acid. The potato ash is alkaline.
The people of Germany largely on a diet of potatoes lost weight during the last war.
It is only when taken in large amounts or cooked with milk, fats and cheese that the potato is fattening.
Butter is the real villain and the particeps criminus in the buttered-potato team. The six tablespoons of potatoes contain no more calories than one tablespoon of butter. So the free and unlimited use of butter means an obesity ratio of six to one. You had better stick to a safer standard. To do so you must ever beware of the cream and butter and gravy which are added to potatoes. It is they that have falsely cloaked potatoes with their reputation for being so fattening.
And, finally, don't add salt to your potatoes.
One reason why the obese should avoid salt is that it encourages overeating. It also acts as an irritant to the kidneys when taken in excessive amounts and after the age of forty may contribute to the increase of blood pressure. But there is more to it than that.
Schoenthal found that its undue consumption may cause a reduction in plasma bicarbonate with a tendency toward acidosis and sometimes slight febrile reactions.
An important secret in weight reduction is to reduce the salt intake to the very smallest amount.
Salt tends to retain fluid in the body tissues. If you reduce the salt in your diet a natural reduction of the quantity of salt in the tissues of your body follows. As a consequence the water content of the body tissues is materially lessened. The reason for this is that the function of salt in the tissues is to maintain normal osmotic pressure. Be-cause of this constant salt concentration a reduction in the absolute quantity of salt must result in a corresponding reduction in the quantity of water present. And that of course results in a positive reduction in your weight. Reducing your salt in-take may reduce you several pounds.
The drinking of sauerkraut juice is a fad which may do much harm to anybody, and particularly to the obese. Sauerkraut juice consists largely of lactic acid and salt. One glass contains about a teaspoonful of salt. Don't drink it.
This popular cocktail also contains a large amount of salt and should be avoided by the obese. Mixed with catsup it is one of the most pernicious things a person with ulcer or hyperacidity can take and in as much as obese individuals may have both conditions it is an appetizer to be studiously avoided.