How Well Do You Treat Your Stomach?

Source: Ladies Home Journal (April, 1914)
Picture Source: Ladies Home Journal (April, 1914)

As we approach the holiday season, we sometimes forget to treat our stomachs kindly. Here are four hundred-year-old questions that I need to remember to regularly ask myself:

  1. Have I eaten too much? Most digestive troubles are brought about by a systematic habit of overeating.

  2. Do I eat hurriedly? Don’t eat with your eyes of the clock. Chew your food thoroughly and eat slowly. Lay aside the worries of business and pressure of social engagements at meal time. Take time, and plenty of it.

  3. Do I take proper exercise? Physical activity increases the digestive powers and stimulates all the organs of the body, while sedentary habits favor a slow digestion and a sluggish condition of the system.

  4. Do I eat improper food? Eat only food that agrees with you. If you find a certain food always produces ill results, let it alone. Why suffer innumerable torments for a fleeting pleasure of tasting something good?

National Food Magazine (February, 1914)

A Sound Sleep is Dreamless

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, November 13, 1914:  Am awfully sleepy at present, so good-night.

Source: Wikipedia

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Goodnight Grandma—

Have a sweet and dreamless sleep.

According to a hundred-year-old book:

A sound sleep is dreamless. Dreams require a certain expenditure of nerve force and mental energy, so that dreamless sleep is the most restful. Disagreeable dreams and nightmares are generally associated with indigestion and biliousness, which also occasion a general restlessness.

Personal Hygiene and Physical Training for Women (1911) by Anna M. Galbraith

Staying Healthy to 80

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, November 7, 1914:  <<no entry>>


Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Another silent day for the dairy, but I came across an article in the March, 1914 issue of Ladies Home Journal by Charles Eliot, the retired president, of Harvard that I thought you might enjoy. He had lots of advice about how to stay healthy. Here’s a few quotes:


How I Have Kept My Health and Working Power Till 80

My experience does not furnish short, explicit prescription for keeping health and working power til eighty years of age, probably because many and various causes have contributed to the result; but I feel safe in affirming that anyone who desires to have a like experience will do well to eat moderately, to sleep at least seven hours a night with windows open, to take regular exercise in the open air every day, to use no stimulants, to enjoy all the natural delights without excess in any, and to keep under all circumstances as serene a spirit as his nature permits. This is the way to win from life the maximum of real joy and satisfaction.

From the time I became a tutor, at the age of twenty onward, I think that I have done per day an unusual amount of mental work, much of which, however, has had a routine or repetitive character, as in all teaching and administration.

That I have borne much labor and responsibility without ever suffering even a temporary breakdown seems to be to be due—after the inheritance of a sound constitution—to my possessing a good muscular and nervous system, preserved by open-air exercise and the habit of moderate eating.

One result of the balance between my bodily and mental powers has been that I have always been able to sleep well at night, and since I was seventy, briefly in the daytime also.

I am aware of two mental or moral conditions which have contributed to my safe endurance of physical and mental strains. The first is the result of a combination of this temperament with a deliberate practices of avoiding alike anticipation of disappointment and vain regrets. When necessarily involved in contests or critical undertakings I tied first to do my best in the actual struggle, and then not to concern myself too much about the issue.

When blocked or defeated in an enterprise I had much at heart I always turned immediately to another field of work where progress looked possible, biding my time for a change to resume the obstructed road. An administrator can thus avoid waste of energy and a chronic state of disappointment and worry.

My own experience has led me to think that strenuous work, done with interest and zeal, usually promotes health and vigor, and is seldom injurious if kept within the limits set by bodily fatigue.

Hundred-Year-Old Hand and Nail Care Advice

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, November 3, 1914: <<no entry>>

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I found a fun description of how to care for hands and mails in a hundred-year-old book. Since Grandma didn’t write anything, I thought you might enjoy reading some quotes from the book.

Care and Treatment of the Hands

Of all the members of the body, next to the face, the hands have the most expression, and serve as an index of character and refinement.

Not only should the most scrupulous attention be given to having clean hands and nails, but every precaution should be taken to keep the skin soft and the nails carefully manicured. This is quite possible for the housewife, simply by wearing rubber gloves while she does her work. It preserves the fine sense of touch in the fingers, which aids in sewing and embroidery at the same time that it adds much to the beauty of the hands.

Chapped Hands: An aid in the prevention of the skin of the hands from becoming rough and chapped, and the best means of curing them if this has occurred, is by the use of a good cold cream at night, just before retiring.

The cold cream should be rubbed into the skin, especially about the finger-nails, and then talcum powder be dusted over. This forms a thick covering for the hands, the talcum powder prevents the cream from being rubbed off on the bed-clothes, and, on getting up in the morning, the skin will be found to be soft. Only in case the hands are very badly chapped should old kid gloves be worn at night.

Finger Nails: There is a natural tendency for the dirt to accumulate on the under surface of the nail, between it and the finger. This is not only unsightly, but it is often the cause of actual danger, as this forms a lodgment for the germs of disease. We must be impressed with the necessity of more careful oversight being given to the hands that prepare food.

For the same reason, it is self-evident that the hands should always be washed immediately before going to the table, and cleaning the nails is always a finishing touch in the washing of the hands.

For the purpose of cleansing the nails, an orange stick or nail-file should be used, After the use of the nail-file, the nail-brush should be used.

Personal Hygiene and Physical Training for Women (1911) by Anna M. Galbraith

Adapt Food to Climate

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, June 17, 1914:  Don’t have anything for today.

Source: Good Housekeeping (June, 1914)
Source: Good Housekeeping (June, 1914)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma was probably still picking strawberries for a neighbor—and was probably too exhausted to write anything in the diary.

Since Grandma didn’t write much, I thought you might enjoy some quotes from an article in the June, 1914 issue of Good Housekeeping about how people living in cold climates should eat fattier foods in the winter than in the summer.

The sugars and starches may be regarded as partly burned, while the extent of the burning in the fats and oils is extremely slight. For this reason the fats and oils are distinctively heat formers, furnishing the maximum degree of heat and energy during the processes of combustion in the various tissues of the body. A kilogram (2.2 lbs.) of sugars or starches will furnish four thousand calories (units) of energy, while a kilogram of fats or oils will furnish nine thousand, three hundred units of energy.

As a consequence fats and oils are consumed in increasingly large quantities as the temperature of the environment falls. Near the equator, where the average temperature is but little below that of the blood itself, there is little loss of heat by radiation from the human body, and hence those elements which particularly produce heat are required in minimum quantity. But as we approach the northern limit of human habitation, there the average temperatures of the year are below the freezing-point of water, the radiation of heat from the body is greatly increased and the requirement of fat in the food is correspondingly greater.

There is reason to believe that, especially during the cold months, it would be a wise dietetic practice if the people of our country would consume a larger quantify of oil and less sugar and starch. In the warm months, when succulent vegetables are fruits are abundant, the fat content of the ration might well be diminished.

Hmm. . . I wonder if the Muffly’s used this philosophy when planning meals. I can remember when I was a child that we ate more meat in the winter; and had lots of strawberry shortcake. . . and black raspberry shortcake. . . and cherry pudding for the main course during the summer months.

Lateral Trunk and Waist Exercises

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, June 3, 1914:  Nothing doing.

Source: Personal Hygiene and Physical Training for Women (1911)
Source: Personal Hygiene and Physical Training for Women (1911)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:


You seem so bored. I really hate to suggest it because you do so much hard physical labor—but maybe you’d feel a little better if you did a few exercises.

Here are the directions in a hundred-year-old book for doing Side Bend Exercises—though the book calls them Lateral Trunk and Waist Exercises (Good grief—that’s a mouthful. I wonder if that’s what people actually called this exercise back then.)

Lateral Trunk and Waist Exercises (Figs. 49, 50)

First Position—Stand with the feet nearly together and the arms extended above the head; the arms are relaxed at the wrists and elbows, so that a slightly curved line is formed as is shown in the figure. First sway to the left, bending at the waist line as far as possible, and return to the original position.

trunk exercise 2

Second Position—The attitude is the same as in the first position; sway to the right in the same manner.

These exercises strengthen the muscles on the sides of the abdomen and the lower part of the back , and are an excellent means to reduce the size of the waist in case of corpulency.

Personal Hygiene and Physical Training for Women (1911) by Anna M. Galbraith

You might also enjoy this previous post:

Hundred-year-old Exercise for Shoulders and Back

Hundred-year-old Tips for Buying Shoes that Fit

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, May 29, 1914:  Just like some other days.

Picture Source: Red Cross Shoe Ad in Ladies Home Journal (November, 1913)
Picture Source: Red Cross Shoe Ad in Ladies Home Journal (November, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’m going to go off on a tangent.

My feet hurt! A few days ago I wore some new shoes—and ended up with terrible blisters. This hundred-old-information about how to select shoes resonated with me—and gave me clues about what was wrong with my shoes. (I think they are too wide and my foot is slipping forward.)

The Shoe

The style of the shoe is very closely related to the corset in the amount of harm it is capable of doing. The compression of the foot interferes with the circulation, compresses the nerves, weakens muscles and ligaments which should support the arch, and is the prolific source of corns, bunions, weak ankles, and “flat” foot.

The front part of the sole must be so designed that the great toe will retain its normal position. In many shoes the great toe is forced out of its natural position toward the middle of the sole instead of pointing straight forward. This leads to a malformation of the foot and ingrowing toe-nails.

The front part of the upper leather must be broad enough for the free movement of all the toes in walking; when it does not give room enough for the toes to spread outward and forward in walking they are bent on themselves. This makes the descent of hills and all active exercise and games very painful. Tight leather uppers are also productive of corns.

The shoe should be slightly longer than the foot, and sufficiently broad for the foot to spread in walking; but, at the same time, the shoe must fit snugly about the heal and instep, or else the foot will slip forward in walking, and all the evil effects of too short a shoe will result.


The heel must be broad and low. High heels force the foot to keep perpetually and unnaturally on the stretch; if they are worn in early youth, they may bring about permanent deformity of the skeleton and the foot.

Moreover, the high heel interferes with the natural walk, in which the pressure of the foot on the ground passes from the heel to the toes. The high heel requires that the front of the foot should be set down first instead of the heel. The result is an awkward tripping gait and a short step, which is very fatiguing,

Personal Hygiene and Physical Training for Women (1911) by Anna M. Galbraith