It's straightforward. A woman in a flattering and sensible ensemble surrounded by delicious looking homemade meals. (Meals as big as our sensible lady it seems.) No modern day celebrities flaunting their new "hot beach bods" and no trashy (yet tempting in a train wreck sort of way) stories about the pictured celeb's secret wedding/surprise pregnancy/rumored break up/botched plastic surgery/$10,000 shopping spree. Inside this magazine the only celebrities are in ads selling soap, toothpaste and lipstick. Things were a lot more quaint in 1954.
The article begins with Mrs. Mary Evelyn Dempsey, a 46 year old housewife, weighing over 200 pounds at 5'0". Her motivation for losing weight was to ease her aches and pains and be able to take care of herself. She says that her husband and children had to take care of her "as they would a much older person." In fact someone once mistook Mr. Dempsey, who is a bit older, for her son. If that's not motivation enough the article includes the now well known Metropolitan Insurance Company weight tables.
|According to this chart Mrs D, wearing 2 inch heels and assuming she has a large frame, should weigh 124-135 pounds.|
I don't know if Mrs. Mary Evelyn Dempsey really exists but it doesn't matter so much. She could be a composite typical of middle aged women with whacked out hormones and thick middles. She represents the struggle we all feel to make healthy choices in a world of readily available nutritionally void junk. Granted there was less junk food back then but the premise remains the same. If you eat too much your body turns the extra food into fat. And if you're a middle aged woman your metabolism slows down and you don't need a lot of food to keep it going. Frustrating? Yes. But that's just the way it is. Sorry.
Anyway, back to our dear Mrs. D. Mrs. Dempsey's doctor refers her to Cornell University's experimental clinic where she partakes in a 1400 calorie a day diet developed by Dr. Margaret A. Ohlson of Michigan State College. (This is before Michigan State is a university.) She is referred based on the diagnosis of "obesity", a term she hates. Doesn't everyone?
I have not tried this diet myself but on the surface I like it because it's based on real food. No "diet foods" or eliminating any food group, except sweets. Also it allows for limited full fat foods to keep the dieter fuller longer and meat for the same reason. Vegetables are divided into 2 categories so the more nutritional veggies are eaten more often. Fruits are allowed twice a day and one must be citrus. It's just so simple. No trying to make cookies out of hand milled almond flour and flax seed egg substitute. It sounds a lot like the Weight Watchers plan I remember from the late 1970's, before they wanted to sell you boxes of chemical tasting GMO filled diet "food" before every meeting. Here are the details:
There aren't any recipes except for salad dressing, jellied tomato juice (gag!), and cafe au lait. (This is the pre-Starbucks era. One must improvise. ) Meat, fish and poultry may be "roasted, broiled, simmered, stewed, steamed, or pan-broiled with no flour or fat except 1/2 teaspoon fat for liver, chicken, or fish." (Personally I think if one is eating liver 4 tablespoons of butter should be allowed. I'm clearly not a liver lover. Apologies to those of you who are.) The directions go on to say that it is not necessary to remove the fat from meat. Nothing is noted regarding chicken skin. This is before the days of boneless and skinless so I'm assuming it stays on and that dark meat is allowed. (Par-tay, Mrs. D!!) More notes are given. Click on the pic for details. I love the simplicity of the diet. It assumes the dieter knows how to cook. And again, there's nothing to buy except food. Real food. The 4 weeks of daily menus even make use of leftovers. So you eat less and save food for another meal. How 1950's is that?
Here are some typical meals on the diet:
Here's to you, Mrs. Dempsey!
|Mrs. Mary Evelyn Dempsey: Before (right) and after (left, looking in mirror).|