Friday, May 14, 2010

The World's First Diet Book

The English gentleman in the picture above is William Banting.  Banting was a retired owner of a successful carpentry business when he decided to address his obesity and related pathologies. To lose the extra fat, he tried rowing, walking, and eating less.  Unfortunately, none of them worked, and he even gained a little weight with his lower calorie experiment.  Then, on the advice of his ear, nose, and throat doctor, William Harvey, Banting attempted a different idea which led him to lose 46 lbs. and 13 inches in a year, in his mid 60s.  Not only did he keep the weight off, but he cured his physical ailments and general discomfort.  He then wrote about his experience in a book called Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public, which sold over 50,000 copies in the first eight months (back in 1869) and it is still sold today (I would know...I bought one!).  How did he do it?

DIET...and not by eating less, but merely improving the quality of the foods he took in.  Here are the daily meals for Banting's original and fat loss/health-improving diets:

Original Diet

Breakfast: Bread and milk OR Pint of tea with "plenty" of milk and sugar, and buttered toast.
Lunch: Meat, beer, "much" bread, and a pastry
Tea: Tea with "plenty" of milk and sugar
Dinner: Fruit tart or bread and milk

Fat Loss Diet

Breakfast: 5-6 ounces of meat or fish, large cup of tea or coffee (no milk or sugar), and a little biscuit or 1 ounce of toast
Lunch: 5-6 oz. of meat or fish, any vegetable, fruit, and 2-3 glasses of claret, sherry, or Madeira
Tea: 2-3 oz. of fruit, a cup of tea (no milk or sugar)
Dinner: 3-4 oz. of meat or fish, 1-2 glasses of claret or sherry, and water

As you can see, Dr. Harvey's suggestions were to increase consumption of protein (meat and fish) and to subtract grains, sugar, and dairy.  Banting stated his lesson by saying:

My impression is, that any starchy or saccharine matter tends to the disease of corpulence in advanced life.

Banting followed the second diet for the rest of his life.  He lived to be 81 and never gained the weight back...he actually lost four more pounds in the six years that followed his initial year. 

As an additional bonus, Banting's troubles with vision, hearing, acidity, indigestion, heartburn, and overall discomfort dissipated with his obesity.  I think he summarized his experience best in one of his closing paragraphs:

I can conscientiously assert that I never lived so well under the new diet plan, which I should have formerly thought a dangerous extravagant trespass upon health; I am very much better, bodily and mentally, pleased to believe that I hold the reins of health and comfort in my own hands, and, though at seventy-two years of age, I cannot expect to remain free from some coming natural infirmity that all flesh is heir to, I cannot at the present time complain of any, although six years older than when I wrote my first edition (of Letter of Corpulence).


mrfreddy said...

lookit all that booze! the orignal beef and whiskey diet, haha!

Dr. Sean Preuss said...

Fritz - I was surprised when I saw that he drank so much, but then again, he was still avoiding the grains with the new diet. The second diet sounds pretty good though, doesn't it?