Are we healthier for rationing?

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fabindia
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Are we healthier for rationing?

Post by fabindia »

Food was rationed in UK didn't end until 1954, nearly 10 years after the second world war ended. Therefore, that makes me one of the last to have had a ration book, having been born in August 1952.

Being a just a toddler, I don't remember rationing myself but I really do think it contributed to making our generation a lot more healthier than today's. And, even when rationing officially ended, many commodities were still in relatively short supply.

However, things, quite common today, such as food allergies were virtually unheard when I was growing up.

Times were tough for our families when we were growing up but the upside is we didn’t have any packaged or fast food. Sweets, crisps and soft drinks were a very occasional treat in our house. Our mothers and grandmothers knew how to cook healthy food from basic ingredients.
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kitla
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Re: Are we healthier for rationing?

Post by kitla »

I'd guess the rationing of sugar was a good thing - and would be now! Less additives & processing, farm animals still fed on grass rather than imported grain so healthier meat & milk. I'm not sure if it was the rationing or just the era, I wonder if people were less healthy before the war & the rationing?
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Freeranger
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Re: Are we healthier for rationing?

Post by Freeranger »

I wasn't there myself, but I read about this a while ago as there was a lot of interest in losing weight with war time diets.

The second world war was the first time that food was distributed according to need over income, so orange juice and milk were given to pregnant and nursing mums, for example, and ration books were personalised to an extent. Some diseases and developmental deficiencies of poverty, such as rickets, were pretty much eradicated through those measures, and susceptibility to infections was reduced.

There were dieticians in the Ministry of Food, who established recipes based on nutritional completeness - the Glossop sandwich, Woolton Pie and others. It was also more resource-efficient to cook en masse in canteens, so many people ate a meal at work who otherwise might not have bothered or afforded it. There was less meat and dairy available than now, as well as flour and sugar, but balanced against the wider use of lard, dripping and suet and alternative sources such as carrots and root veg. People were also more active due to lack of transport, digging for victory, and more community involvement so some issues are not 100% attributable to rationing.

Physical health in those at home was almost certainly better, adjusted for war-related problems such as injuries and dust, but mental health due to stress was a problem.

This is what I've gleaned from books that were promoting recipes from the era, so not neutral sources. I'd be really interested to hear if anyone has a more robust picture.
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Re: Are we healthier for rationing?

Post by Gwenoakes »

I cannot remember rationing, being born in 1948 and very small, but I do remember having lots of jam sandwiches for tea and as a special treat we were allowed one thin slice of cake on a Sunday. We did not have loads of squash, just water and milk if there was enough. We used to have rice puddings and as a special treat an apple pie on a Sunday that lasted Monday as well. If we were lucky enough to have a joint, very rare occasions with just one slice the rest was either eat cold on Monday yet another slice or minced and put with onions. We never, ever had anything fried, but were allowed a boiled egg with soldiers sometimes for breakfast instead of toast with margarine on.
Breakfast was at 7.30 - 8a.m., dinner was at 12 noon and tea was at 4p.m. if you were hungry after that I used to get a piece of dried bread from the pantry and eat that.
I often wonder whether we would be better off having dinner at mid day instead of late evening as most people do now. More time to work the largest meal of the day off.
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Mo
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Re: Are we healthier for rationing?

Post by Mo »

I do remember rationing being a war baby. A little book with tear-out coupons. By the time sweet rationing ended I think it wasn't the ration that limited us, but money. I think they took them off ration then put them back on again because there was such a rush and queues (???)
I've also read that rationing was designed to avoid malnutrition and that many young men from poor backgrounds failed army medicals (WWI? or was it WW2???) due to poor diet.


In our youth more was home-made, either by housewife or (in earlier times if you were rich) by servants. Now who knows what goes into factory food.
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fabindia
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Re: Are we healthier for rationing?

Post by fabindia »

Gwenoakes wrote:I often wonder whether we would be better off having dinner at mid day instead of late evening as most people do now. More time to work the largest meal of the day off.


Interesting thought and I have seen some health advice saying eat your largest meal at mid-day.
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albertajune
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Re: Are we healthier for rationing?

Post by albertajune »

I was an old enough child to remember food rationing. Food was a lot more basic and imported goods were in short supply. Lots of food then would be classed as organic today and of course was bought according to the seasons. Meat, dairy and eggs were the most missed but lots of people kept their own chickens for meat and eggs, also rabbits. My grandfather even had a pig. Also our little back yard was turned over to growing vegetables. Home grown fruit was plentiful, especially when Kent was the county for orchards. As sweets were rationed us kids used to buy a penny apple or a jacket potato from the man who cooked them near the school.
I don't know if we were healthier but do know that there were no obese adults or children where I lived. Of course the fact that we played out all the time and had regular sport and PE at school contributed to this. A much healthier lifestyle in general.
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Spreckly
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Re: Are we healthier for rationing?

Post by Spreckly »

I did post on this thread, but it seems to have disappeared!
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