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John Morrissey’s Three Months Diet, c.1919

I was looking through old scanned health and wellness books on recently, researching for another blog post, when I came across something so incredible I had to read it three times. And make a blog post about it.

In Edward B Warman’s The Care of the Body, published in 1919, there’s a section that offers opinions from various people regarding good diet. The part that caught my eye was titled “John Morrissey’s Three Months Diet.” There was no preamble or introduction to John Morrissey, but after my own research, and given the reference to prize-fighters in training, I believe he could’ve been the boxer John Morrissey. Even though he died in 1878, this advice could have been compiled by Warman from an earlier source, or perhaps received directly from Morrissey at an earlier time – Morrissey was only 16 years older, and died comparatively young.

Anyway, enjoy:

First—Take a black draught*. Any druggist will put it up. All prize-fighters take this when they begin to train for a fight.

Second—Be sure to get at least seven or eight hours of good sound sleep every night.

Third—In the morning when you first get up drink a glass of hard cider with a raw egg in it. If the cider is not to be had, then use sherry wine, but I prefer the cider. Then start out and walk briskly a couple of miles. When you come back take a sponge bath and rub dry with a coarse towel. Rub until the skin is all aglow.

Fourth—For breakfast eat a lean steak, cooked rare; also eat stale bread. Use no milk, no sugar, no butter and no potatoes, with the exception of about once a week. If you wish you can eat a roast or baked potato in the morning. Drink sparingly of tea and coffee. Tea is better.

Fifth-For dinner eat rare roast beef and stale bread. Use no potatoes or vegetables of any kind with this meal. Change the diet with an occasional mutton chop without fat.

Sixth-For supper a lean steak or mutton chop without fat. Do not eat any warm biscuit or warm bread at any time. Stick to good, wholesome stale wheat bread. Eat no pies, cakes or pastry of any kind. Use salt, pepper and all other seasonings very sparingly.

Seventh—Use no stimulants of any kind. Do not smoke. Drink sparingly of water. Do not eat berries or vegetables of any kind except, occasionally, a raw onion.

Eighth—If you feel weak in the morning before breakfast, it is likely to come from bathing; if so, it should be discontinued a few days.

jimmy clabby boxerThis boxer’s expression is either determination, or he’s feeling the effects of scurvy from the absence of green leafy vegetables!

I really wish Warman had included some sort of individual explanation for this “three months diet.” Based on the intense concentration of protein, I would assume it was intended for men training for some physical activity or to quickly build their muscles (like a prize-fighter). But three months? That length of time makes it seem like a fad diet, which is unusual for a book that seems to focus on overall care of the body. I’d expect something sustainable.

But also, remember everyone – if you feel weak in the morning, it’s probably because you bathed! Not because you’re subsisting on meat, stale bread, and hardly any water.

I do agree that tea is better, though!

* Ed. note: “Black draught” is an anti-constipation aid.

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