Down the Scale or Up… by Barbara Abel

Down the Scale
Or Up…


Copyright 1939—Revised 1948
(19) 1958

This will be music to your ears




Not skinniness! It’s no light matter, Hortense, this question of figures. You can figure on that. Even the new styles won’t hide the awful fact that you bulge where you shouldn’t, OR that you own no curves where you should.

Yes, it’s a tough racket melting the too, too solid flesh. Figure how much you have crept up on the scale, let your doctor figure how fast you dare go down without landing—flop—farther than you ever intended. This little book? It’s encouragement, blandishment, a little judicious enragement—but it isn’t medicament.

How about reducing tricks? Well, Dumpling, let’s take a look. Glands? A 3slick trick for a few, probably not you. Bath salts? They dissolve the budget, nothing more. Laxatives? Money in the promoter’s pocket. Thyroid and other drugs? No, no, NO!

Suppose you want to go up the scale? Put some curves in place of angles? Improve the pep and disposition? Reverse what the fat gal does. Where she envies, you eat. Where she hustles, you rest. When she refuses a snack, you snatch it.

Either way you go on the scale—up or down—it comes back largely to how much you eat, when, and most important, what. Either way you go, don’t neglect—milk, cheese, eggs, meat, and fish—fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain cereals. Emphasize salt and water to gain, cut down on both to lose.

Cheerio, whichever way you’re bound. The diet does it. You can figure on that, lady!

W. W. Bauer


Director, Bureau of Health Education

American Medical Association


Ages 25 and Over

After thirty it is better to be weighed in the balance and found wanting.

HEIGHT (with shoes) WEIGHT IN POUNDS (as ordinarily dressed)
    Small Build Medium Build Large Build
4 ft. 11 in. 104-111 110-118 117-127
5 ft. 0 in. 105-113 112-120 119-129
5 ft. 2 in. 110-118 117-125 124-135
5 ft. 4 in. 116-125 124-132 131-142
5 ft. 6 in. 123-132 130-140 138-150
5 ft. 8 in. 129-139 137-147 145-158
5 ft. 10 in. 136-147 145-155 152-166



There comes a day in many a woman’s life when she has a THOUGHT. Namely: “I MUST start on a diet.”

A mere trifle may bring on this thought. Such as:

a) a saleswoman murmurs, “Well, dear, perhaps a size 38 would be just a wee bit more comfy.”

b) a taxi driver asks, “Where to, Madam?” (they’ve always called you “Miss”).

c) a husbandly voice commands, “Sit in front with me, Sonnie, and give 6mother the back seat where she can spread.”

d) walking down Main Street you catch a quick, dreadfully candid glimpse of yourself in a plate glass window. “Heavens!”

If the THOUGHT has come to you, it is likely, alas, to be followed swiftly by second, third, fourth, and fifth thoughts. Thus:

2) “Oh well, I’m not so very fat.”

3) “As it is, I don’t eat enough to keep a bird alive.”

4) “Anyhow, I come by it naturally—look at my own mother!”

5) “Besides, diets are dreadful.”

We won’t argue with you about thoughts 2, 3 or 4, assuming that you know more about your weight, your intake, and your mother than we do. But when you get to thought 5, we rise up, thus:



(If this booklet doesn’t prove it, then you go right on eating food and we’ll have to eat the booklet.)


You can easily talk yourself out of dieting by falling for one of those old fallacies that women hug to their (ample) bosoms, namely:

“What I really need is a new girdle.”


“To be slim and svelte, all you need to do is to ooze yourself into our Streamliner Stretch.” Sez the ad. “Pooh!” sez we. Common courtesy should tell you that you have to meet a two-way stretch half-way. No sixteen-ounce trifle of satin and elastic is 8going to cope with 160 pounds of womanhood, and stay svelte. Science is wonderful, my dear, but it’s not that good!

“I really need my extra weight for reserve.”

We freely admit that camels are said to store up extra fat for reserve in their humps. Camels lead hard lives. But when were you last in the Sahara Desert?

“I haven’t the will power to go on a reducing diet.”

It isn’t will power so much as choice power that’s needed. We complimented a girl recently for sticking so faithfully to a diet. “Honestly, it isn’t a bit hard now,” she said. “I simply looked myself in the eye one day and asked, ‘Well, which do you choose—to step into a nifty 36 without alterations? Or fudge cake?’ After I really set my 9mind on the 36, the fudge cake just bored me.” (There must be a moral here somewhere.)

“Oh, well, I’ll start on a diet … next week.”

All we can say to this is that statistics (and human nature) prove that you won’t.


So far we’ve been appealing to your good looks. Here goes for a try at your good sense. (You must have some, or you wouldn’t still be reading.) We refer to good sense about health.

Some women are beautiful, some are healthy, some are both, and some are neither. And into the last class fall (or roll) the definitely overweight.


Now you’re going to cry, “Nonsense! Look at Mrs. Plenteous; she’s enormous, and as healthy as a horse.”

Well, we don’t know Mrs. Plenteous personally, but we’ll take your word that she’s a human being, and as such she was never intended to be enormous. She was made according to a careful pattern that hasn’t varied in thousands of years, by an expert designer who put strength and usefulness and beauty into his designs. Mrs. Plenteous has the regulation number of bones, muscles, and vital organs (barring operations). None of them is enormous. Each was built to carry around a certain weight without undue strain. If Mrs. Plenteous is enormous, her organs are carrying around an enormous strain. They can take it—for a while—and they will—for a while. But Mrs. Plenteous is not really healthy, she’s just lucky—so far.



Ask your doctor. Ask your insurance agent (if you can edge in a word). They will tell you, we think, that excessive waistlines tend to go along with shorter lifelines. Medical records warn us that the overweight (or underweight, see page 21) person is much more susceptible to illness than the person whose weight is normal. And how surgeons loathe operating through layers of fat! And by the way, look around you at a roomful of elderly people. Aren’t most of them rather willowy? The “enormous” ones left early.


There are so many tricky health questions involved in reducing that we are not going to take the responsibility of advising you specifically how to do it. We do suggest, however, that you:


1) See your doctor. If you haven’t a doctor of your own, see somebody else’s. He’ll be glad to become yours for the asking. He knows much more about you than you do, having spent a great deal of time and money to learn it, which you never did. Perhaps an ordinary reducing diet is not for you. Perhaps you have funny glands or a messy metabolism, which he will discover by careful tests and experiments. Perhaps you are not as overweight as you think you are.

2) Do what your doctor tells you. This will surprise him very much, but will also please and flatter him, and will cause him to work like mad on your case.


3) Don’t take any advice from your friends. You know very well that you don’t agree with their politics, approve of their hats, or care much for their children. Why should you trust them on a matter much more intimate and vital?

4) Don’t try short cuts. It took time to put on those extra pounds, and it will take time to get them off. Don’t be beguiled by success stories of fad diets or slimming salts. You want to reduce your weight only—not your chances of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These magic potions may be harmless in nine cases out of ten, but it’s maybe just your luck to draw number ten!



… into the pantry! To hear us talk about diets you might be thinking that we disapprove of food in general. Not so; we love it! Both kinds, the Protective Foods and the Energy Foods.


The Protective Foods keep you alive. The Energy Foods keep you enjoying life. Energy foods are like the gas in your car; they give you the quick start, the power to go places, the speed to get there fast. If you’ve ever run out of gas on a country road, you know how important energy is.

Energy foods are delicious. And fattening. Let’s boldly mention a few:

Chocolate eclairs, pies, French pastries, griddle cakes, shortcake, rich salad dressings—yummy!


If you would reduce yourself, reduce them first! Of course, there are other Energy Foods without so much glamor but with more honest goodness (and less fat). We refer to such friends of humanity as bread and potatoes. Don’t see too much of them, but don’t snub them entirely. And whenever you reduce any of the Energy Foods, be sure to put in their places more of the Protective Foods.

For the Protective Foods are like the brakes on your car. They keep you out of trouble. They build up your blood by bringing it minerals and vitamins. They help you repel colds and other worse things (if there are any worse things).

We can conceal from you no longer the fact that these good, reliable, tasty and health building foods include:



Whatever you weigh, you need both kinds of food. So don’t go cutting out all energy foods and then, when you get to feeling droopy, say we told you to do it. WE NEVER DID.


At this point some pupil is sure to raise her hand and ask, “Oh, but isn’t milk terribly fattening?”


No, Gwendolyn, it isn’t. Milk gets its chief fame from calcium. Calcium may sound like a pretty dull mineral, but believe us, it’s worth its weight in gold. In fact, if you have plenty of calcium in your teeth, you won’t need so much gold. As for bones, they 17are full of calcium, or should be. Milk also contains several vitamins and a dozen or so other minerals. In fact, milk is a mineral mine (and yours, too, since there’s plenty for both of us).

Moreover, milk is rich in proteins. And proteins are the material from which your muscles are made. If you have no muscles to speak of, please consider that we are speaking of your husband’s muscles. (If he has none, we have just been wasting our time.)


Some people seem to think that milk is for babies only. You might just as well say that baths are for babies only. Or love, or petting. No one ever outgrows the need for milk (or baths or love or petting). No other food will do as much to maintain health throughout life.


Why, THIS Isn’t Bad!

To prove that you can diet and like it, here is a sample of a delicious—but discreet—menu. Be guided in quantities by your calorie needs. See page 20. (For the not-very-active, reducing diets average 1,400 to 1,500 calories a day.)

Sliced Orange
Poached Egg
Buttered Toast
Coffee or Tea
Open-face Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Cabbage Slaw
Fruit Cup
Broiled Fish or Steak
Green Beans
Combination Salad, Lemon Juice
Bread and Butter
Ice Cream
Average servings. See pages 30 to 35.
Calories for the day—1,450 to 1,500.


You probably know about calories. There’s been a lot of talk about them. In case, however, you still confuse them with vitamins, we point out that a calorie is simply a rather nice word for a measurement of energy. If you weigh too much, you aren’t using up calories as fast as you are taking them in.

In case you have vowed to carry this booklet around with you until you have lost such and such a number of pounds—and it might be a good idea—we have gone to considerable pains to make lists of foods with the number of calories in each. We have not counted these calories personally, but somebody with better eyes than ours has, and you may rely on his count. (See pages 30 to 35.)



If you need to reduce, take your excess weight off gradually (no more than 1 to 2 pounds weekly) by cutting your calories every day. Try eating 500 to 1,000 calories less daily until you discover what it takes to lose the desired amount. Pick your calories to reduce your weight, not your disposition.

When you reach the weight at which you feel best and look best, don’t get wobbly in will power or careless in eating.

This may take some figuring, but remember, this booklet is all about figures anyhow.

THANK YOU for going all this way with us. We hope that you’ll find it was well worth the time. If we ever meet you face to face we’ll probably exclaim, “Darling, how WELL you look! Haven’t you lost some weight?”




The next few pages are written on an ascending scale for those who want to go up, up, UP to Par:

Par in vitality

Par in energy

Par in good looks

We spoke pretty sternly to a certain Mrs. Plenteous. Now let us give thought to Mrs. Plenteous’ sister-under-the-skin-and-bones, Miss Gaunt.

For months Miss Gaunt’s overstuffed friends may have fawned on her figure:


“You’re so slender, my dear!” Now “slender” is indeed a flattering word. But any good dictionary will list some sinister synonyms: spare, lank, skinny, scrawny, scraggly, and spindly, to name a few. Some day the remark will be: “You’re so skin—er—slender, my dear!”—and Miss Gaunt will feel flattened—not flattered.

And perhaps she’ll take a good long look at herself, noting certain hollows in the cheek, certain knobs in the elbows, a certain chronic weariness, (not to mention crossness) and she’ll think: “Maybe I should try to build up a little.” When that time comes, we do hope that Mrs. Plenteous lends her this booklet.


Many over or underweight people love to blame their figures on their ancestors. (If they’re perfect 36’s, of course, they take all the credit themselves.) “My 23dear grandmother weighed 200 pounds, so there’s not a thing I can do about it,” beams Mrs. Plenteous, splashing the third lump of sugar in her coffee. “My family tree was a beanpole,” sighs Miss Gaunt. “No thanks—no sugar or cream.”

The truth is that, according to anthropologists, there are in general three types of body build: the stout, the medium, and the lean. You may possibly have inherited your grandmother’s type of figure, just as you may also have inherited her house. But there’s no law against remodeling the house—or the figure. Surely the smart thing is to make the house the best possible house of its type, one which you’ll enjoy living in; and the figure the best possible figure of its type—one you’ll enjoy living with.



Perhaps we’ve dwelt overmuch on the good looks angle. But surely the right angle on good looks is good health. To be under par is to be caught short on the reserves which, if you have them, do so much to cushion the bumps of hectic modern living, and ward off the illnesses that pounce so gleefully on the tired, the rundown, the undernourished human frame.


A wise nutritionist has said, “There are two ways of building up, just as there are two ways of getting rich. One is to cut down on your expenses, the other is to increase your income.”

The “expenses” are energy, and you can decrease them by taking more rest, less violent exercise, more sleep, and by 25keeping calm. The “income” is food. And the thing to do with it is to eat more of it—and more choosily of it! For though music may be the food of love, the food of growth is groceries!

Too often have we heard languid creatures wail, “But I’m not hungry—I can’t swallow a thing!” To them from us goes a simple but hearty “Nonsense!”


Swallowing is an ordinary mechanical act which almost anybody can perform, providing there is no foreign body in the throat (in which case hang by your heels or call your doctor). The hitch is that most people who claim that they can’t eat are waiting for appetite to say when. Now your appetite is a fickle counselor and often does not have your best interest 26at heart. Just look what it does to Mrs. Plenteous! Our advice is this: Ignore it and eat anyhow. Chances are that appetite, surprised and stimulated by regular shipments of body-building food, will come to life and get back on the job.

Other non-eaters insist that their stomachs are too small. Well, stomachs are timid creatures. If they don’t get much they quit expecting much. And they shrink. But they are flexible organs and adapt well to inflation. Start feeding them more, and they’ll take it—and like it. Start gradually, though, and give them time to adjust. Eat oftener and less at a time. And at regular times! Increase your calories by 500 to 1,000 a day (see pages 30 to 35). But don’t just pile them on. Team them up with their right partners—the PROTEINS, VITAMINS, MINERALS. And of course don’t take our word for anything without checking with your doctor!



The next few pages may be a little hard on Mrs. Plenteous, so we hope she left us on page 20. For from here on in we get just voracious about food. “Help yourself,” Miss Gaunt—

NOT to a cup of bouillon—BUT to a brimming bowl of cream soup

NOT to lettuce leaves and lemon juice—BUT to a salad bowl, tangy with cheese and dressing

NOT to a dry rye crisp—BUT to those warm rolls and butter

NOT to just wafers of lean meat—BUT to a thick pork chop sometimes—with gravy

NOT to a modest glass of milk twice a day—BUT to an extra glass or a double chocolate malted maybe.



Milk? Ah, now there’s a beverage both Mrs. P. and Miss G. can sip with sociability. For milk is the menu’s best builder-upper and is essential whether you’re headed UP or DOWN. But while Mrs. Plenteous should stick to plain, whole milk, (with such companions as cottage cheese, American cheese, plain ice cream, and some butter) Miss Gaunt may let herself go on parts of milk that will stick to her—cream, butter, and cream cheeses.

Milk has many virtues: It adds to the food income without cramming bulk into those small stomachs previously noted. And it is the world’s best mixer, combining graciously with hundreds of other foods, enhancing and enriching them.

Consider a few of the forms milk can assume. Every one is a boost for Miss Gaunt as she goes up, up, UP that scale:


cereals cooked with milk

eggs poached in milk

vegetables anointed with butter

cheese souffles

potatoes, scalloped, mashed, or creamed

custards and custard sauces

oyster stew—half and half

cakes, cookies, tarts—with ice cream

strawberries, peaches and cream

cantaloupe à la mode, pie à la mode

Indeed, anything à la mode is the right mode for Miss Gaunt!

Whee! Merely setting down such a list makes us feel as though we’d put on ten pounds. Pardon us while we unhook our stays!


And may you, Miss Gaunt, soon be doing the same! BUT—don’t overdo it! Mrs. Plenteous knows it is hard to melt. Set your goals to look and feel your best.



Take your calories in good, reliable, tasty, and health-building foods first. Expand cautiously.

  Average Serving Calories
Whole Milk 1 glass (8 oz.) 170
Skimmed Milk 1 glass 85
Buttermilk 1 glass 85
Cheese (American) 1 ounce 110
Cottage Cheese, creamed ½ cup 120
Cream Cheese 2 tablespoons 110
Cream (coffee) 2 tablespoons 60
Cream (heavy) 2 tablespoons 100
Cream (whipped) 2 tablespoons 50
Half-and-half ¼ cup 80
Butter 1 tablespoon 100
Ice Cream ⅙ quart 205
Lettuce ¼ head 10
Cabbage 1 cup 25
Celery 2 stalks 5
Carrots 1 medium 20
Cabbage ½ cup 20
Greens ½ cup 25
Asparagus ½ cup 20
Green Beans ½ cup 15
Broccoli ½ cup 20
Carrots ½ cup 20
Beets ½ cup 35
Potato (plain) 1 medium 100
Potatoes (scalloped) ½ cup 120
Potatoes (mashed) ½ cup 120
Sweet Potato 1 medium 180
Tomato (fresh) 1 medium 25
Tomato Juice ½ cup 25
Peas ½ cup 65
Corn ½ cup 70
Onions ½ cup 40
Hubbard Squash ½ cup 50
Cabbage (vinegar dressing) ½ cup 50
Cabbage (cream dressing) ½ cup 85
Banana-Nut (mayonnaise) ½ cup 260
Mixed Green (Fr. dressing) ½ cup 70
Combination (lemon juice) 1 medium 40
Perfection (no dressing) ½ cup 85
Potato (mayonnaise) ½ cup 185
Waldorf (mayonnaise) 3 hp. tbsp. 140
Dressing, French 1 tablespoon 60
Dressing, fruit 1 tablespoon 50
Dressing, mayonnaise 1 tablespoon 90
Dressing, boiled 1 tablespoon 30
FRUITS (fresh)
Apple 1 medium 75
Apple (baked, sweetened) 1 large 200
Apricots 5 medium 80
Banana 1 medium 90
Avocado ⅓ pear 165
Grapefruit ½ medium 75
Lemon Juice 1 tablespoon 5
Orange 1 medium 70
Orange Juice 1 cup 110
Peach 1 medium 50
Pear 1 medium 65
Pineapple ¾″ slice 45
Raspberries ½ cup 35
Prunes (dried) 4 large 100
Cantaloupe ½ of 5″ melon 50
FRUIT (canned)
Apricots 3 large halves 100
Cherries (Royal Ann) ½ cup 100
Fruit Cup ½ cup 90
Peaches 2 large halves 100
Pineapple 3½″ × ½″ 50
Creamed Eggs 1, ¼ cup sauce 175
Creamed Carrots ½ cup 70
Macaroni and Cheese ¾ cup 350
Cheese Souffle ¾ cup 150
Steak (broiled, gravy) 2″ × 3″ × ½″ 100
Lamb Chop 1 medium 130
Pork Chop (broiled, lean) 1 medium 200
Roast Beef 3¾″ × 3½″ × ¼″ 150
Meat Loaf (beef) 4″ × 2½″ × ½″ 150
Hamburger 1 medium 200
Beef Hash ¾ cup 200
Ham (boiled, lean) 5″ × 5″ × ⅛″ 115
Liver 4″ × 3″ × ½″ 100
Bacon 2-3 Slices 100
Lamb Stew 1 cup 390
Fish (steamed, broiled) 1 medium serv. 100
Salmon ⅓ cup 100
Chicken ¼ cup 100
Egg (soft-cooked, poached) 1 75
Egg (pan scrambled) 1 120
Griddle Cakes 2 med. cakes 120
Waffle 1 medium 215
Biscuits 2 small 130
Bread l-ounce slice 75
Cooked Cereal ½ cup 70
Muffin 2¾″ diam. 135
Zwieback 3¼″ × 1¼″ × ½″ 35
Corn Bread 2″ × 2″ × 2″ 140
French Toast 4″ × 3¾″ × ½″ 150
Rye Wafer 1 small 20
Cracker (saltine) 2″ square 15
Limas (dried, cooked) ½ cup 140
Limas (fresh, cooked) ½ cup 75
Navy Beans (stewed) ½ cup 100
Baked Pork and Beans ½ cup 160
Peanut Butter 1 tablespoon 90
Peanuts 10 50
Pecans 6 50
Cashews 6-8 90
Baked Custard ½ cup 140
Rice Pudding ½ cup 165
Bread Pudding ½ cup 200
Chocolate Pudding ½ cup 220
Cornstarch Pudding ½ cup 140
Filled Cream Puff 1 medium 175
Sponge Cake 2¼″ × 2¾″ × 1½″ 100
Plain Cake 2″ × 2″ × 1″ 100
Layer Cake (iced) 2″ sector 400
Plain Cookies 2 medium 100
Doughnut 1, medium 135
Apple Pie ⅛, 9″ pie 230
Cherry Pie ⅛, 9″ pie 370
Coconut Custard Pie ⅛, 9″ pie 355
Custard Pie ⅛, 9″ pie 200
Mince Pie ⅛, 9″ pie 340
Lemon Meringue Pie ⅛, 9″ pie 340
Pumpkin Pie ⅛, 9″ pie 275
Cheese Cake 2½″ sector 275
Cream Soups 1 cup 200
Oyster Stew 1 cup 240
Bouillon ¾ cup 9
Split Pea ¾ cup 200
Clear Tomato ¾ cup 60
Vegetable (broth type) ¾ cup 55
Chicken Salad 1 245
Grilled Cheese (open) 1, 1 sl. bread 215
Egg Salad 1 280
Ham 1 280
Lettuce and Tomato 1 200
Peanut Butter 1 300
Swiss Cheese 1 270
Fudge l¼″ × 1″ × ¾″ 100
Chocolate Sundae 1 medium 215
Ice Cream Soda Fountain size 260
Chocolate Almond Bar 1 small 130
Cocoa ¾ cup 180
Choc. Malted Milk Fountain size 500
Chop Suey 1 cup 400
Brown Gravy ¼ cup 100
Soft Drinks 1 bottle, 8 oz. 110
Sugar 1 tablespoon 50
Jams, Jellies 1 tablespoon 55
Pretzels 5 small sticks 20


Keep a regular record, using the same scales, if possible.

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Transcriber’s Notes

  • Silently corrected a few typos, including listed errata.
  • Retained publication information from the printed edition: this eBook is public-domain in the country of publication.
  • In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by _underscores_.