I’m obsessed by food…
The reason? I’m back on my diet after months of uncontrolled eating that included jelly beans, skittles, pretzels, triskets, and whatever else I wanted to eat. The result? Gaining back all I’d lost last year and then some.
I’ve been reading about different kinds of diets, even though I know I’ll go back to using Sparkpeople.com to count calories. I was reminded of Lord Byron making a vinegar diet all the rage. I never believed the vinegar story. I thought that was something he just made up. The following reminiscence of Samuel Rogers supported that idea:
When we sat down to dinner, I asked Byron if he would take soup ? ” No ; he never took soup.”—Would he take some fish ? ” No ; he never took fish.”— Presently I asked if he would eat some mutton ? ” No ; he never ate mutton.”—I then asked if he would take a glass of wine ? ” No ; he never tasted wine.”—It was now necessary to inquire what he did eat and drink ; and the answer was, ” Nothing but hard biscuits and soda-water.” Unfortunately, neither hard biscuits nor soda-water were at hand ; and he dined upon potatoes bruised down on his plate and drenched with vinegar.—My guests stayed till very late, discussing the merits of Walter Scott and Joanna Baillie.—Some days after, meeting Hobhouse, I said to him, ” How long will Lord Byron persevere in his present diet ? ” He replied, “Just as long as you continue to notice it.”—I did not then know, what I now know to be a fact,— that Byron, after leaving my house, had gone to a Club in St. James’s Street and eaten a hearty meat- supper. Reminiscences and Table-talk of Samuel Rogers
This fits perfectly with my impression of Lord Byron as being narcissistic and needing to call attention to himself.
But it turns out Byron suffered the same struggles as I’m facing. He was taller than I imagined at 5’10” and his weight fluctuated between 133 pounds, which sounds very thin (this is not like me), to 200 pounds (I’m not there yet). His battle with weight began when he entered Cambridge. In 1811 he began using cider vinegar to lose weight. Turns out Hippocrates used vinegar as a health tonic, so Byron’s use of it was not original.
Throughout his life Byron alternated between severely restricted eating to gorging himself. He most certainly had an eating disorder. In 1816, when in Switzerland with the Shelleys, his diet was:
A thin slice of bread, with tea, at breakfast — a light, vegetable dinner, with a bottle or two of Seltzer water, tinged with vin de Grave, and in the evening, a cup of green tea, without milk or sugar, formed the whole of his sustenance. The pangs of hunger he appeased by privately chewing tobacco and smoking cigars.
His diet may have been a factor in his death. He experienced a “fit” which he believed could be prevented by a strict diet of toast, vegetables, and cheese. Instead it may have weakened him.
I certainly will not be following such a rigid diet. I record my eating at Sparkpeople.com and stay within their caloric guidelines.
Byron did have advice for women dieting. He said:
A woman should never be seen eating or drinking, unless it be lobster salad and Champagne, the only true feminine and becoming viands.
Lobster salad and champagne??
I am sooo there.