By Louise Foxcroft
This is often an enlightening and enjoyable social historical past of ways we now have attempted (and failed) to conflict the bulge over millennia. this present day we're recommended from either side to slender down and form up, to shed a number of kilos or lose life-threatening stones. The media's relentless obsession with dimension will be perceived as a twenty-first-century phenomenon, yet as award-winning historian Louise Foxcroft exhibits, we've got been suffering from what to devour, while and what sort of, ever because the Greeks and the Romans first pinched an inch. Meticulously researched, miraculous and occasionally surprising, "Calories and Corsets" tells the epic tale of our advanced courting with meals, the models and fads of physique form, and the way cultural ideals and social norms have replaced through the years. Combining learn from scientific journals, letters, articles and the weight loss plan bestsellers we proceed to eat (including one via an octogenarian Italian within the 16th century), Foxcroft unearths the extraordinary and sometimes absurd lengths humans will visit so one can in achieving the proper physique, from consuming carbolic cleaning soap to intentionally swallowing tapeworm. This specific and witty historical past exposes the myths and anxieties that force cutting-edge multi-billion pound food plan - and gives a welcome viewpoint on how we will be able to be fit and chuffed in bodies.
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Additional info for Calories and Corsets: A history of dieting over two thousand years
Desirable body shapes are culturally specific and prejudice is heaped upon those whose bodies differ; and this norm, this marker of beauty and belonging, has continually altered. Modern feminism, operating now in the interests of both women and men, is of course still trying to remove these prejudices, to liberate us all from convention. When I was ten years old, in 1966, at a family party an uncle remarked on how I was growing and serenaded me with a medley of Maurice Chevalier songs. He began with ‘Every little breeze seems to whisper “Louise”, Birds in the trees …’ and moved on, creepily crooning in his mock Gallic accent, to ‘Thank Heaven for little girls (they grow up in the most delightful way)’.
Temperate eating was also advised by one of Elyot’s contemporaries, the physician Andrew Boorde (c. 1490–1549). As a young man, Boorde had been a Carthusian monk but, in 1521, he ‘dispensed of religion’ in favour of medicine and was always practical in his advice. He, too, condemned gluttony, saying that two meals a day should be quite enough for those leading a gentle, sedentary life, while three meals a day were necessary for people whose work was more physically demanding. In contradistinction to Elyot, Boorde recorded that the Cornish drank an ale so vile, white and thick that it looked and tasted as though pigs had wrestled in it.
Diets, they concluded, ‘do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people’. And there is evidence that yo-yo dieting is something of a Faustian bargain: it can make the whole enterprise more difficult so that repeat dieters find they have to eat less and for longer to lose the same amount of weight. Recent evidence suggests that, even though the most important changes we can make to reduce our cancer risk (after giving up smoking) are to exercise and lose weight, repeated dieting is linked to cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and a compromised immune system.
Calories and Corsets: A history of dieting over two thousand years by Louise Foxcroft