Magazine Madness and/or Mania: “A Woman Doctor’s Crash Diet For Teenagers” (Woman’s Day, January 15, 1980)

Well, that’s a headline you’re not going to see on any of WD’s contemporary covers.

Woman's Day 1.15.1980

I was kind of hoping that said diet would include some of those groovy earth-tone cookies. Also the ones at the top and left of the picture look like lumps of igneous rock.

Dr. Barbara Edelstein assures the nervous mothers of chubby teenage girls (go ahead, try to imagine a teenage boy that would allow himself to be subjected to the indignity of this scheme) that

Crash diets are OK as as long as you understand why you are losing weight. There is nothing magical about them; they are a fast, healthy way for normally thin and healthy people to lose weight in an emergency.

I think we’re playing fast-and-loose with the word “emergency”, there, Dr. Edelstein.

Diet plans of this era really seemed to go out of their way to make the food as disgusting and/or encased in gelatin as possible (anyone for Weight Watchers “Cinnamon Squares”?) and Dr. Edelstein fesses up that this is kind of the point:

Don’t use any of the things that make food a little tastier- no ketchup, salad dressings, spices and very little salt. Eat no favorite fruits like apples or bananas.

Yeah, I’m totally sure it was all of that cumin that got me into this weight loss EMERGENCY in the first place.

Dr. Edelstein prescribes something called The Sunshine Diet, the origin of which she describes for the reader:

I made this up one day when a girl came into my office and demanded something “different.” She didn’t want anything complicated, but wanted to lose ten pounds in two weeks. It was a beautiful sunny day outside, so I looked out the window and said, “I have just the diet for you- the Sunshine Diet!”

She lost ten pounds and felt wonderful.

“Here is this thing that I just made up!”

This actually kind of explains how the “Jar Full of Tongue Depressors Diet” and the “Powder-Free Latex Gloves, Medium, 100 Count Diet” got their names (obvs, my doctor didn’t have a window in her office).

Ladies and gentlemen, The Sunshine Diet:

One orange
8 ounces skim milk

8 ounces skim milk
3 ounce hamburger patty 

Ok, let’s hold up a minute right there. Never mind that by 8th period I’d be chewing up my Problems In Democracy textbook for nourishment, but that also doesn’t sound like the most portable lunch.

Cook it at home and take it to school cold. If you don’t like cold hamburger, too bad- I still want you to eat it.

Um, thanks Evil Mom.

After-School Snack
1 hard-cooked egg OR
1 ounce American cheese OR
4 ounces skim milk

1 orange
8 ounces skim milk
2 hamburger patties (3 ounces each)

Late-Evening Snack
4 ounces skim milk OR
8 ounces tomato juice OR
1 hard-cooked egg

So, milk, hamburger patties (I guess that is what makes it “for Teenagers”) and the occasional cheese cube. And don’t forget:


You repeat this every day for TWO WEEKS.

Despite the good doctor’s insistence that “you won’t believe how much you’ll ‘go’ on this diet!”, it all kind of sounds like a formula for never pooping again.

And finally

One of the biggest problems in crash dieting is that after about two or three days, the dieter begins to feel weak or light-headed and may interpret this feeling as a need for food.

No, no- you’re fine. You just had a cheese cube, remember? Only 6 more hours until your next demitasse of skim milk!

(Oh, apparently the tan lumps on the cover are called “Wasp Nests“, which sounds like the perfect thing to bring to Todd and Muffy’s housewarming party out on The Vineyard.)

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15 Responses to Magazine Madness and/or Mania: “A Woman Doctor’s Crash Diet For Teenagers” (Woman’s Day, January 15, 1980)

  1. Pingback: So You’re A Teenage Girl By Jill Renich | Lost Classics of Teen Lit, 1939-1989

  2. SJP says:

    Your comments on this diet are hilarious!

    I was searching for this diet (I’m a product of the 80s) and…I currently have a dieting emergency! Lol. Thanks for republishing it.

  3. Betty lou says:

    I read this book cover to cover and back again. Never could stick to the insane eating plans in the book. I thought I was fat back then but I wasn’t. I would give anything now, 39 years later, to weigh what I did in HS. It’s not hard to think you’re fat when you’re comparing yourself to your 95 lbs friends.

  4. Susan says:

    Scary! And in different eras there would be shrieks about the saturated fat in the hamburger and cheese and the cholesterol in the egg yolk.

    In “The Unchosen” the lead character goes on a diet of steak and water, I think. It makes the point that while she loses weight, she feels and, more importantly given the reason for the diet, looks terrible.

    • mondomolly says:

      I definitely have The Unchosen on my to-read list! Although personally, I don’t think anything can beat The Rubberband Diet from An X-Rated Romance 😉

  5. Betty lou says:

    Me again, my comment was actually related to the book “The Woman Doctor’s Diet for Teenage Girls” by Barbara Edelstein. But this magazine article looks like it came from the same book. I wish I had kept it. I would love to read it and look at the eating plans again.

    • Susan says:

      Betty lou, I just checked ebay, there are lots of copies of the book available there.

    • mondomolly says:

      Thanks for commenting! I saw Amazon had a listing for the book version- I actually love reading vintage fad diets, I’ve been thinking about doing a feature on the ones marketed specifically to teenagers!

      • Susan says:

        I found a copy of “How to Get a Teenage Boy” — it’s such a 60s book! (Although my friends and I read it in the 70s.) One of the recommended diets is: at 8:00 am, noon, 4:00 pm, and 8:00 pm, have raw fruits and vegetables, cottage cheese, and two Ry-Krisp. Ry-Krisp is mentioned quite often. Do they even make that anymore? Go check google … hmmm, the brand was discontinued in 2015 but there is an attempt at a revival right now. Seems to be very complicated with assorted legal actions …

        • mondomolly says:

          LOL Ry-Krisp alaso figures into one of Beverly Cleary’s books, when Ramona is pleasantly surprised that the babysitter gives her Ry-Krisp and pineapple juice instead of the usual graham crackers and apple juice. Obviously, the incident still looms large in my mind for some reason 😉

          Also, confession: I still eat off-brand Ry-Krisp 😉

  6. Anonymous says:

    Despite the fact that’s it’s decades old, and obviously not popular, I still like this book. With all the fad diets today, and the huge advancement in science since it’s publication, it’s not far off the mark. I have had many, TOO many young ladies who have come to work for me, who suffer from eating disorders who would have benefitted from the ‘crazy crash’ diet instead of their chosen method for ’emergency dieting’ (spurned on by all the teenage angst of bullying, fighting with a boyfriend, or parental pressure) instead of their chosen method of drinking gallons of water and chewing gum while they slowly starved themselves to illness. I still employ the diet, even in my late fifties, for a few days whenever my eating gets out of control and those few extra pounds trigger my feelings of self-consciousness. You could do worse!

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