Women: How to gain weight (1918)

Miss Lina Cavalieri circus

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When you need tips on gaining weight, of course, turn to the celebrity with a tiny waist! Or such was apparently the thinking in 1918, when Italian opera singer Lina Cavalieri (shown below) offered this advice to too-thin women to help them put on a few pounds.

But it’s not the author’s advice itself that’s most incongruent with today’s thinking — it’s the fact that “plump shoulders and pretty rounded cheeks” were actually considered beautiful and desirable.

Miss Lina Cavalieri circus

First aid to the thin: How to gain weight

By Lina Cavalieri – “The Most Famous Living Beauty”

A thin woman has but little appetite as a rule, and it is hard to fatten one who will not eat. She should go to a physician, tell him of her loss of appetite, and ask for a prescription for a tonic which shall be an appetizer. Some form of iron is usually what is given. This will soon bring her to the table not only hungry, but fairly ravenous for good food. And, after all, it is largely what we eat that decides whether we shall be thin or fat.

Also, the woman who would be plump must add to her daily allowance of sleep. If she sleeps eight hours, and is still thin, she should sleep nine hours, or even ten. And she should take a nap of half an hour to an hour after her midday meal. She should exercise before, instead of after, her meal.

A weight gain diet plan

Briefly, this is the most sensible regimen I can advise for the thin woman who wants plump shoulders and pretty rounded cheeks:

Begin the day with a light breakfast in bed. The breakfast may be a pot of cocoa or chocolate, made with milk and sweetened with three lumps of sugar in each cup. In this case, sugar is not being used extravagantly, because it is a food. Three slices of richly-buttered toast and two medium boiled eggs should complete the meal.

Then, if possible, rest for half an hour; better an hour. The time can be utilized by looking after your correspondence, in reading the morning papers or in making your plans for the day. Have a tepid bath drawn, and remain in this ten or fifteen minutes. A slightly cooler shower should be taken before leaving the tub, to prevent your taking cold.

Now you can go for a short walk or drive. Do not make this a forced duty. You should look forward to it with pleasure, and not remain out long enough to become too greatly fatigued.

Luncheon may be of roast beef or mutton with gravy, any green salad with mayonnaise dressing, a cup of cocoa or a glass of milk. Bananas, strawberries and cream or peaches and pastry should form the finish.

Between luncheon and dinner, you should dress yourself in a comfortable lounging robe and lie down for a brief nap. If you can’t sleep, at least you can rest your muscles and your eyes. When you get up, sip two or three glasses of milk slowly, remembering that milk is a food rather than a drink.

How to gain weight: Get your sugar and fat

For dinner, eat any food that appeals to you that is of a starchy or sugary or fatty nature. But beware of pickles, oranges, and all acids.

In the above diet, you must be sure to use plenty of common sense also. Do not change your manner of living too radically, but give special thought to your diet at all times. Do not eat of rich foods so freely that your digestion will become impaired and your complexion mottled.

Drive away insomnia by drinking a glass of warmed milk, a cup of cocoa or chocolate, and eating a biscuit or two before retiring.

Keep in mind also the class of foods that form flesh. Of the cereals, corn and oats belong to this class. So does wheat, but just now we are asked to deny ourselves as much of wheat products as we can [during World War I]. Cornbread, made from rough, yellow meal, and spread plentifully with butter is one of the best means I know of for adding weight to the body. Potatoes, if used in connection with eggs, cheese and milk, are likewise important aids in this direction.

How to gain weight: Beautiful rounded shoulders

I knew a woman once, extremely thin indeed, her bones showed painfully through a thin chiffon evening dress, and she began to eat half a dozen dates for dessert after a full meal.

Six months later, when I met her again, I marveled at the change that confronted me. Her shoulders were plump and beautifully rounded, and she had gained fifty-seven pounds!

How to gain weight: Drink your milk

A French physician declares that, in his opinion, milk is the most fattening food that can be given to thin people. He insists on at least two quarts a day for a few days to start off with. This should be drunk very slowly, allowing ten minutes for the consumption of each glass — almost literally eating, rather than drinking, it.

Should the appetite rebel at milk, as it sometimes does, it may be varied by an occasional glass of orange juice or of lemon juice and water, half and half.

Miss Lina Cavalieri

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