Thursday, May 19, 2016

Dieting in the early 1900s

1998ms005: William Townsend Collection

Found in the archives: an early 1900s diet plan, with accompanying letter, sent to Katherine Helm by her cousin Ruth.

Katherine Helm was born in 1857 to Benjamin Hardin Helm and his wife Emilie Todd, the half-sister of Mary Todd Lincoln. Kate Helm pursued a career as an artist following the end of the Civil War. She studied at the Art Students League in New York. Her work includes a portrait of Jefferson Davis and a portrait of her aunt Mary Todd Lincoln, which hangs in the Lincoln Bedroom at the White House. 

The first week of the diet plan:


Breakfast – 1st five weeks
1 raw tomato or tomato juice
1 soft boiled egg
1 cup of broth (beef cubes or chicken cubes may be used in a cup of hot water)
1 cup of black coffee

Luncheon – 1st week
1 cup of broth
1 soft boiled egg
2 fresh vegetables (uncooked)

Dinner – 1st week
1 cup of broth
1 soft boiled egg
2 green vegetables (uncooked, like carrots lettuce celery etc.)
1 cup of black coffee

Note – Fruits, except bananas, may be eaten at all times

The letter reads: 

Dear Cousin Kate,

This is really a fine diet list, just follow it or near as you can and you will find you will lose weight in one week’s time. Eat an apple every time you feel a little hungry between meals. The best part however is that one does not get a starved feeling.

Sarah and I lost six lbs in a week and we took sugar in our coffee and cooked vegetables on our second week.

Here’s wishing you luck.



1 comment:

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