From Martha Stewart to Leah Fastow and Matthew Hale, a growing
number of overweight celebs are using their time behind bars to shed
unwanted pounds and inches. But keeping the pounds off
post-incarceration isn’t easy. Prison nutritionists caution that an
estimated 67% of inmates regain most of their lost weight after their
Try this at home: half rations and regimented meal plans
By Hermione Slatkin, health correspondent
Alderson, WV—When the federal prison in Alderson, WV said farewell to its best known inmate last week, prison spokesman Sam Dunne and his staff were hoping for some long deserved peace and quiet. Instead, says Dunne, the phone at prison central has been ringing off the hook with inquirers who say that they can do what Martha did: lose weight in the lock up. “It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. Most people really try to stay out of prison, but thanks to Martha, people are finally starting to understand that prison is a great way to lose weight.”
Unfortunately for these would-be inmates, Camp Cupcake, as the Alderson facility is often called, is an invitation-only facility; in order to spend time there, you have to be convicted of a crime in federal court. “This is a pretty exclusive place,” says Dunne, noting that former inmates at the prison have included Billy Holiday and would-be presidential assassin Lynnette “Squeaky” Fromme, both of whom lost weight during their time at Alderson.
Pay for your stay—and watch the pounds fall off
But don’t despair. Other penal facilities around the country, especially those facing tight budgets, may be more willing to accept voluntary inmates who are hungry for weight loss, but eschew gastric bypass surgery and other drastic solutions to obesity. Some Illinois prisons, for example, already charge inmates a fee to cover the cost of their lodging, food, drink and entertainment. Lobbyists are currently pushing for the passage of a state law that would make all 27 correctional centers in Illinois pay-as-you-go facilities.
The good news for those anxious to try a prison weight loss plan: the pay-as-you-go approach will soon make renting a prison cell as painless as getting a hotel room. According to criminal justice experts, jails that adopt the new payment plan will likely welcome new inmates who want to try the jailhouse diet, but haven’t actually committed a crime.
Tuna stuffed green peppers—and other lean fare
Last year, the Illinois Department of Corrections introduced a new food service plan intended to cut costs and make it easier for inmates to lose weight. At the Metropolitan Correction Center in Chicago, for example, inmates who used to start their days with two hard-boiled eggs and two boxes of cereal, before enjoying a lunch of a tuna salad stuffed green pepper, recently had their meals cut in half.
One inmate who can’t say enough about the weight-loss plan: Aryan leader and Metropolitan Correction Center resident Matthew Hale. While exercise is more of a challenge for Mr. Hale than it was for Ms. Stewart—the Pontifex Maximus of the World Church of the Creator is confined to his cell for 23 hours a day—he is losing weight, says a source close to the prisoner. “He was frustrated about hitting a weight loss plateau, but since they introduced the half rations, the pounds are coming off.”
Most former prisoners put pounds back on
While it’s too soon to tell whether Martha Stewart will be able to keep off her ‘felony fifteen’ now that she’s back in Bedford, prison nutrition experts caution that up to 67% of former inmates regain their most of their lost weight after their sentences end. For Ms. Stewart, caution the experts, the key to maintaining her new slim status will be to avoid the bad habits she had prior to her stint at Alderson.
“Be very strict about portion control and stay away from the buttery pie crusts and crème brulee,” says prison nutritionist Susan Broder-Hertenstein. A strict eating schedule can also help, she notes. “Try to follow a very regimented meal plan, allowing the same 30 minutes each day for lunch and dinner.” And if you can’t make your meal time? “Too bad. You go hungry.”
If you want to eat like a felon—and watch the pounds melt away—try this recipe, courtesy of the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center. The complex carbohydrates in the whole grain bread help inmates feel fuller longer, while high-fiber, nutrient-dense veggies pack a nutritional wallop.
6 slices whole wheat bread, finely chopped
4 oz. (113 g) imitation cheddar cheese, finely grated
4 oz. (113 g) raw carrots, finely grated
12 oz. (340 g) spinach, canned, drained
2 C. (480 ml) dried Great Northern Beans, soaked, cooked, drained
4 T. vegetable oil
6 oz. (169 g) potato flakes, dehydrated
6 oz. (169 g) tomato paste
8 oz. (226 g) powdered skim milk
4 oz.(113 g) raisins
1. Drain all wet ingredients, then mix all ingredients in a 12-quart mixing bowl. Mix until stiff, but moist enough to spread.
2. Form three loaves in glazed bread pans. Place loaf pans in oven on a sheet pan filled with water to keep the bottom of loaves from burning.
3. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 45 minutes. The loaf will start to pull away from the sides of the bread pan when done.