Who is Miss Abigail?

Abigail Grotke
Silver Spring, MD
email: missabigail at missabigail dot com
twitter: @DearMissAbigail

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Miss Abigail has a collection of over 1,000 classic advice books, spanning from 1822 to 1978 and covering a variety of topics, from love and romance to etiquette and charm. The collection sparked the idea for this site, then a book, Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage, which has inspired an Off-Broadway production of the same name!


Posts Tagged ‘dieting’

Eat More Vegetables

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

That is Nature's rule!Q Dear Miss Abigail:

How can I get my my boyfriend to eat vegetables?


A Dear Matthew:

I searched high and low for some good advice to pass along about the value of eating vegetables, and found many standard references in home economics books teaching young women how to plan menus for their families. But I think we all know that vegetables are good for us and that we should eat more of them (didn’t your mom teach you right?).

So I thought a different approach might work better for your sweetie. How about the following from Victor H. Lindlahr’s 1940 book titled You Are What You Eat? Lindlahr was a lecturer on health and nutrition “on radio stations from coast to coast” and president of the National Nutrition Society in his day. He’s quite serious about nutrition, and I think his words will help scare your boyfriend into eating his veggies.

1940: What Foods Can Do For You

Your body is composed of, and lives on, certain basic chemical substances. To be healthy, it must constantly receive new supplies of these. If replacements of these essential materials are not provided, in correct proportions and amounts, by the food you eat, then you are in trouble! Your body tissues cannot behave as they should. The result will be abnormal conditions ~ you call them symptoms of disease. That is Nature’s rule!

Providing the necessary chemical substances for your body, in proper amounts and proportions each day, with foods, means choosing a balanced diet! What is a balanced diet?

On every hand we hear people talking about ‘proper eating’ and ‘balanced diet.’ Your best friend’s little girl did not eat a balanced diet ~ did not get enough fruits and vegetables containing Vitamin A. So, the doctor explains, that is why she was unhealthy, an easy victim of measles, mumps, whooping cough, and frequent colds.

Your mother’s Cousin Joe did not eat a balanced diet ~ he ate too much meat and bread and rich food. And his joints became gnarled and twisted with rheumatism.

That lady down the street, your neighbor explains, did not eat a balanced diet. Her doctor has her on a strict one now, and follow it she must, or have her gall bladder removed. The penalty is severe.

Most health authorities, including scientists, doctors and specialitsts whose articles appear in daily newspapers throughout the country, agree that a balanced diet or dietary changes will help cure a host of the ills to which the human flesh is heir.

Source: Lindlahr, Victor H. You Are What You Eat: How to Win and Keep Health With Diet. New York: National Nutritional Society, 1940.
~ p. 8 ~

Diet in Training

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

huge quanitites of half-raw steakThe following excerpt, from Gladys Cox’s book entitled Youth, Sex, and Life, does kinda sorta prove that mom wasn’t lying when she told you not to swim after eating lunch. So after you finish reading this, get off the computer, pick up the phone, and call your mom. It’s time to thank her for saving your life.

1946: Diet in Training

In the old days of the prize ring, training was usually preceded by a violent purging; and the diet consisted largely of huge quanitites of half-raw steak. Experience has shown this to be utterly wrong. If you are taking a clean, varied, and moderate diet, you probably need not vary it at all; though you may find benefit from cutting down some items and increasing others, such as fruit. If you are not already on a clean, healthy diet, then you should be; and the sooner you put yourself on to it the better!

It may be worth while to remind you that few of us drink as much plain water as we should; and you may well correct this error.

It should be unnecessary to warn any one who knows anything about the working of the body against the folly of being strenuous too soon after a meal. Yet in spite of warnings in the Press, numbers of swimmers commit suicide every year by going into the water shortly after a heavy meal; and a few die at other sports through the same error of judgment. It is best to have noheavy meals at all; but if you do have heavy meals, give them two or three hours to ‘settle’ before you do anything violent ~ and particularly before you go into the water. It is worth while to try for yourself, by actual experiment, whether your wind is better and whether you last longer, if you take nothing but the lightest food on the days when you are going to be really vigorous, and nothing at all for at least two hours before the actual exertion begins. You will not suffer from any lack of strength through undernourishment; you ‘run’ on yesterday’s food, and on the stores laid by before yesterday. Try this and other experiments, for individuals vary greatly; but don’t trouble to try whether a heavy meal just before exercise suits you ~ it

Source: Cox, Gladys M. Youth, Sex, and Life. London: George Newnes Limited, 1946.
~ pp. 93-94 ~

Diet to Increase Flesh

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

with cream and sugarNo wonder I’ve haven’t been losing any weight! I think I’ve mistakenly been on this “increase flesh” diet from Mary Ries Melendy’s book titled Vivilore. Drat.

1904: Diet to Increase Flesh

Thin, nervous people, and all who wish to increase in flesh, may like to know that a dessert spoonful of olive oil, taken before each meal with a half glass of grape juice, is decidedly fattening. So is pure milk, especially new milk with the cream still on it. Or, a raw egg taken at night, with a dash of pepper, salt and lemon juice. Here is a list of foods which are suitable:

Bread. ~ Entire wheat bread, gluten bread.
Milk. ~ Cream, buttermilk, ice cream.
Graham mush, oatmeal mush with cream and sugar.
Soups. ~ Of all kinds, eaten hot at the beginning of a meal, seasoned with plenty of celery, onions or parsley.
Puddings. ~ Light pudding, farina, rice, tapioca, cornstarch, sago, with cream and sugar.
Fruits. ~ Of all kinds. Eaten with sugar.
All liquids except the soup should be drunk between meals. Drink plenty of good water without ice. Eat slowly, moderate quantities.
Vegetables. ~ Spinach, peas, beans, baked potatoes, lettuce with olive oil and lemon juice.
Meats. ~ Mutton, beef, chicken, oysters, fish, eggs.
Coffee and Teas. ~ Sparingly. Chocolate.

This regimen should soon cause the hollows to fill out and the rounded curves to make their appearance.

Source: Melendy, Dr. Mary Ries. Vivilore: The Pathway to Mental and Physical Perfection. Chicago: W. R. Vansant, 1904.
~ p. 105 ~