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"Water is Fattening" and Other Century-Old Diet Tips

When the "experts" preach fundamental inaccuracies, how's the general public supposed to know?
Annette Kellerman
At the turn of the last century, long before there were the Atkins, Caveman and South Beach diets, folks with concerns about their waistlines turned to the crackpots experts who disseminated nuggets of nutritional advice in popular books.

As The Week discovered, in her 1918 work, "Physical Beauty, How to Keep It," Mrs. Annette Kellerman (accreditation questionable, but she's pictured at right) coached women on how to ascertain whether or not they needed to shed a few pounds:

"...Stand before your mirror nude and look yourself over...Now bend over in various attitudes. Are there unsightly wrinkles and rolls of loose flesh? Lie down on a bed or couch on your back...With your free hand grasp the loose skin and flesh that lies above these muscles...if you are too fat there will be big rolls of loose flesh above the tightened muscles."

Once you had that straight, you could move on to strategic tips like getting out of bed ("over-sleeping at any time makes one stupid and logy and, yes -- fat") and, for all that's good and holy, avoiding water at all costs.

READ: The Healthy Skin Diet: 6 Yummy Foods That Prevent Wrinkles

In "The Woman Beautiful" (1899) by Helen Follett Jameson (again, qualifications unknown) the author insists that readers "Do not drink much water. A little lemon juice added to it will make it less fattening."

Likewise, an anonymous Countess penned "Beauty's Aids, Or, How to be Beautiful," in which she dispensed this sound dieting advice: "First and most important, drink very little [water], as little as possible, and only [drink] red or white wine, preferably Burgundy, or tea or coffee slightly alcoholized." Party on, Countess.

The nonsense continues in spades (you can read more here), but if you really stop and think about it, silly as it was, their "knowledge" is comforting.

Despite the mind-blowing technological and scientific advances we've made over the last 100 years, how many times have you been confused about what the "latest studies" show? Eat blueberries, no actually don't, they're bad. Carbs are the devil's handiwork but maybe not for your body type. Drink red wine but, then again, maybe you shouldn't. And on, and on.

Seems to this lowly reporter that in a hundred years people may very well look back at the things we chose to perceive as gospel and downright guffaw at the idiocy of (some of) them.

As we all realize, the "what's healthy -- for today anyway" messages we're bombarded with are utterly confusing and more than a tad contradictory. Maybe then, a little common sense, like knowing that water's not fattening, coupled with proven science, is all we really need to stay healthy. (And, what we need to keep our great-grandchildren from rolling in the aisles at our stupidity.)

READ: 10 New Weight Loss and Diet Myths and Facts
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