11 Vintage Health, Fitness, And Beauty Tips From An Actual Doctor Back In 1918

by Jess Catcher
Jess grew up in Oklahoma before moving to New York to become a writer. She has a cat named Agnes.

For the most part, vintage health tips don’t exactly stand the test of time. In 1918, Dr. Lulu Hunt Peters offered her hilariously direct advice for women who were looking to lose weight and appear younger.

The book titled Diet and Health: With Key to the Calories doesn’t mince words when it comes to telling her readers exactly what they’re doing wrong with their diet, and at first it feels a little too harsh to be helpful.

But underneath Lulu’s zingers is a healthy helping of humor. She even had her “small nephew” provide the illustrations, dubbing him, “the little rascal,” in the guide’s title page. As the former chairman of the Public Health Committee California Federation of Women’s Clubs, Los Angeles District, she was also given permission to dedicate the book to Herbert Hoover, who at the time was the Director of the U.S. Food Administration, prior to being elected president.

Take a look to see Dr. Hunt Peters’ vintage health tips from back in the day. You might find some of it useful, but other suggestions may just make you laugh out loud.

Let us know in the comments what you think of her advice from 1918 and be sure to SHARE with your friends!

1. Use A Formula To Find Your "Ideal Weight"

1. Use A Formula To Find Your "Ideal Weight"

You might want to grab a calculator to figure out Lulu’s equation: Take every inch of height you have taller than 5 feet, then multiply by 5 1/2, and add another 110 to that.

For instance, someone who is 5’7″ would be:

7  x 5 1/2 = 38 1/2 + 110 = 148 1/2

2. Massage Your Neck Properly To Get Rid Of Double Chins

Mary Margaret

Though there have been many suggested methods for getting rid of this particular problem over the years, Lulu’s only recommendation was to “massage vigorously up and down, not crossways.”

Or you can just rock a lace turtleneck top like Judge Mary Margaret Bartelme, shown above.

3. Take 10 Years Off Your Face With A Complex Regimen

Vintage cold cream

The doctor’s advice for a youthful appearance: alternate hot and cold water, then mix one part glycerin with three parts rose water and apply to your face, then massage with cold-cream packs and a little ice.

“You will not only look ten years younger and live twenty years longer — I assert it boldly — but your complexion and efficiency will be one hundred per cent better.”

4. Chew On Citrus Peels To Curb Over-Snacking

Orange postcard

“I find that dry lemon or orange peel… Seem to stop the hunger pangs,” she explained, and also suggested sipping on a cup of fat-free bouillon if you’re more in the mood for something savory.

5. Don't Totally Nix Carbs

Man eating pasta

Many diet trends either reduce or totally omit all carbohydrates, like the ketogenic diet, but Lulu believed that was going too far. In fact, she recommended a daily breakdown of 10–15% protein, 25–30% fat, and 60–65% carbs.

“Any regimen which does not allow some carbohydrates and fats for the fuel foods is injurious if persisted in for a length of time.”

6. A Sweet Disposition Can Cure Constipation

Vintage smiling woman

Along with suggesting solutions like exercise (“especially brisk walking”) and the addition of bran, agar, or mineral oils to your diet, she also encouraged those afflicted with the uncomfortable condition to be kind-natured.

“Mean people are always constipated.”

7. Consuming Meat Every Day Isn't Necessary

Vintage butcher shop

She didn’t condemn eating meat, but Lulu confessed to having adopted a vegetarian diet, citing chemist Russel Henry Chittenden’s study, which concluded humans need only 50 grams of protein each day rather than the previously believed 150 grams.

Lulu also eventually recommended including fish in one’s diet for their main source of protein, this time citing the moral logistics of Benjamin Franklin: “He decided that if they could eat each other he could eat them.”

8. Don't Overdo It With Exercise

Vintage track runners

Throughout the guide, she repeatedly insisted that food and only food is the cause of gaining too much weight. Therefore, “no drastic purges, no violent exercises… And not too frequent nor prolonged Turkish baths,” will boost your chances of “reducing.”

9. Brush Your Hair Vigorously With 200 Double-Strokes

Vintage hair brushing

It might seem odd to find this situated in the exercise portion of her guide, but Lulu explained that it is a “good arm and chest exercise” as well as an effective way to get rid of dandruff.

Her method: Take a brush in each hand (“military brushes are best”) and make double strokes all around your head in north, south, east, west directions.

Sounds like a recipe for tangles to me!

10. Thin People Who Want To Gain Weight Should Talk Less

Vintage boys working out

Lulu did not hold back when she attempted to aid scrawny folks from the past who were looking to bulk up, referring to them as “deluded” in the chapter title.

However, she relented her scorn to give them advice, such as getting enough sleep, drinking creamy and sugary drinks with meals, and “don’t talk so much” since a “tremendous amount of energy is used in talking.”

11. Splurge On 100 Calories Of Your Husband's Dessert

Vintage cakes

In listing her own daily menus — a light breakfast and lunch followed by a more hearty dinner — Lulu confessed to leaving room for a small sample (or sometimes more) of her husband’s dessert, along with her after-dinner coffee.

What do you think of the doctor’s health and fitness advice from back in the day? Let us know below and be sure to SHARE with your friends!