'Mad Men' visits Weight Watchers as Betty struggles

Mad Men's Betty Draper Francis joined Weight Watchers, attended meetings and tried to follow the diet plan that in 1966 was radically different from today's version.

Betty Draper Francis didn't have the benefit of the PointsPlus program offered by Weight Watchers and yet there were many similarities in how the topic of weight loss was handled in 1966, the year in which this season is set. Read: Betty Draper, fat or fat suit?

Betty used a food scale to weigh her portions of food that were meager at best. There was a rigid food plan for each day that required members to eat specific kinds of protein, carbs and fats. A list of forbidden things that included all manner of fruits and vegetables deemed too high in starch or sugar were never far from a member's sight.

Weight Watchers' current PointsPlus system has no food items that can't be consumed as long as the allotted daily points total is not exceeded. Vegetables and fruits with few exceptions are given a zero points value and do not count against the daily total.

Food scales and measuring cups are still a member's best friend but the portion sizes are not as small as what Betty was forced to endure in 1966.

Sitting among other women at her meeting, no men in attendance then, Betty and her fellow members spoke of the importance of food in their lives while learning how to have what they called a "bad" day or week without using food for comfort.

As is true today at Weight Watchers, every weekly meeting means getting on the scale and having a weight recorded. Victories are celebrated but those who don't fare well are not made to feel like failures.

During last night's episode, the meeting leader was seen encouraging the ladies to think of times during the previous week that they were able to cope and not veer off the program.

Betty announced that she faced a tough situation that could have set her off course and while it made her feel bad she was able to right the ship.

What she didn't say to the group was that her first act upon arriving home was to grab a can of whipped cream topping from the refrigerator to squirt some into her mouth, only to spit it out in the sink.

The emotional reaction came after Betty picked up the three children from her marriage to Don Draper, Sally, Bobby and Gene, and come face to face with Don's new wife Megan.

The lavish and modern apartment with a view of Manhattan was eye-opening to Betty who shared a typical suburban home with Don and currently resides in a large and expensive home in a very upscale N.Y. suburb. Megan dances and sings for Don to the tune of "Zou Bisou Bisou."

But it was seeing young, lithe Megan that gave Betty the emotional jolt and set the whipped cream episode into motion. As is typical of Betty, she subsequently acted out against former husband Don.

Last night's angry act ultimately hurt her daughter Sally after the youngster learned something about her father about which she was unaware. As the story ends, Betty was gutting out Thanksgiving dinner with her husband Henry Francis and the three children as she faces a plate that is as empty as she feels.

Weight Watchers was founded in 1963 by Jean Niditch, a N.Y. wife and mother. Niditch held meetings in her house. It grew into a large company with meeting locations around the country and was sold to H.J.Heinz in 1978 for a reported $71 million.

View a typical day's menu from 1966, here.

Image credit:Wikimedia

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