Is It Any Wonder? Diet Advice from the Past


My daughter Lesley was at Green Mountain for the past month, going through our women's wellness program.  When she wasn't in class or out on a hike or other fun fitness activity, she pitched in with good cheer and willingness to do whatever needed to be done at a moment's notice.  As anyone who runs a business knows, having that kind of person around is invaluable.

I'm not sure what she was doing when she discovered what I'm going to blog about, but suffice it to say that I was pleased she pointed it out to me.  She had found an old book on one of our office shelves, the title of which claimed to provide wisdom for dieters.  Not sure how it got into our offices, but I can assure you it wasn't because we were looking for wisdom from it.

One look at what was contained within made me sure of that.  If it was thought of as wisdom for dieters just a decade or so ago, it's no wonder that as a society we continue to struggle with taking care of ourselves.

Several of its tips that stand in for wisdom:

  • If you can stay on them, unbalanced diets work. I don't even know what to say in response to that.
  • If you reduce fat consumption from 40% of calories to 10% of total calories, you can eat 1/3 more food yet take in the same number of calories. Okay, so what does that look like on your plate?  Hint:  Not good, at least in my humble opinion.  But then again, I love food.
  • Rice cakes and sugar-free jelly or jam is good low-calorie, fat-free fare. Ditto my comment in the previous bullet.  I'd vote for a nice juicy piece of fresh fruit instead.
  • For each small pretzel that you eat, walk three minutes. Do I even need to say anything?
  • Nothing will ever taste as good as thin looks. I can barely type this one.
  • Chocolates are a more disastrous binge food than cookies. Who says?
  • Never eat anything larger than your head. What?
  • No one wants to hire you when you are fat — and wages prove it. I don't think I can go on.

To be fair, there were some good tips in the book.  But with tips like those above, I say it's no wonder that people are confused.  The really disturbing thing is that these kinds of tips aren't confined to this one book; they're something we've all heard many times before.


Do you have any old diet books on your shelves that make you wonder what people were thinking when it was written?

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

Marsha has been a guiding force at Green Mountain at Fox Run since 1986. In addition to overseeing a professional program that helps women establish sustainable approaches to healthy living, she is a respected thought leader when it comes to managing eating, emotions and weight. She has been a voice of reason for the last three decades in helping people move away from diets, an area in which she is personally as well as professionally versed. An accomplished writer and speaker, Marsha is the author of six books, including the online course Disordered Eating in Active and Sedentary Individuals (co-authored by Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, Human Kinetics), What You Need to Know about Carbohydrates (Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics [The Academy]), What You Need to Know about Vitamin and Mineral Supplements (The Academy), and The Pregnancy Cookbook (co-authored by Donna Shields, RD, Berkeley Publishing). She has worked extensively on a national basis to educate the public about nutrition and the impact of dieting on eating behaviors, including binge eating and emotional eating. Active in many organizations helping to further the cause of health and wellness, Marsha currently serves as vice chair of the Binge Eating Disorder Association and vice president of The Center for Mindful Eating and has been active in the Association for Size Diversity and Health in support of Health at Every Size(R) principles.

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