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Anyone else interested in trying out ration dieting?

Discussion in 'The Home Front Woman' started by Flicka, Jun 24, 2013.

  1. Flicka

    Flicka One Too Many

    I need to lose weight. I'm also a vintage girl & thinking about writing a book set during WWII. Now I've found this:


    Very curious of trying it out; like a living history diet experiment. The research I've seen point to the fact that people were almost never as healthy here as during the war years, so this, combined with walking and bicycling (which they also did, due to the petrol rationing), could be a fun way of combining research, vintage and healthier living. So eco-friendly too, since the focus would be on locally grown veggies.

    I have gotten myself a bunch of cookbooks about cooking during the war and think I'll get started later this summer.

    Anyone keen on joining me? It could be fun to exchange tips, recipes and encourage each other, while proving the point that we can learn a lot from the Golden Era.

    What do you think?

    ETA: I should've known Lizzie would already have tried this! :) http://www.thefedoralounge.com/showthread.php?31782-The-Ration-Book-Diet

    Anyway; if anyone wants to join me, let me know!


    DISCLAIMER: obviously, you are doing this on your own responsibility and should check with your doctor etc. etc. You should obviously monitor your health and take into account special medical conditions and the like. I'm just stating that I'm doing it and offering a chance to talk about it for anyone doing it as well.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
    Blackthorn likes this.
  2. I'm interested!
  3. Flicka

    Flicka One Too Many

    I have started a Facebook group for the purpose if anyone wants to join:


    I'm also thinking about starting a blog, just to have somewhere to store recipes, information and such. But we could also convene here and share tips and stuff and cheer each other on.

    The first thing I need to do is get the basics on what you were allowed (I'm going to go by the British system, but feel free to use the US, Canadian, German or whatever system). I also browsed my grandmother's 1950s cookbook for recipes that could work, and I've ordered some basic books on wartime cooking, so I'm still in the planning stage.
  4. Requested to join.
  5. MissNathalieVintage

    MissNathalieVintage A-List Customer

    Great thread. I wonder how many people during WWII gave up meat and dairy to save money and ration points or did they also dabble in the blackmarket too and trade their dairy ration points for other items.
    I remember a contestant on the Groucho Marks show said he was a vegetarian. Groucho asked the man what does he eat, the man said mostly grains and nuts. If I remember correctly the guy was into fitness. I wonder when the vegetarian and vegan diet became more popular.
    I find for myself eating a vegan diet with an occasional cheese on the side more satisfying and cheaper since I cook more often. Also most recipes call for 4-8 servings which means lost of leftovers which I find hard since I only need recipes meant for 1-2 servings. Plus when I buy fresh veggies and fruit what I do not use right aways goes bad. That is why I prefer frozen veggies and fruits which last longer and does not loose its flavor. I do buy fresh produce only as needed.
  6. Should this thread perhaps be combined with the other one? Just so that folks don't get confused or something?

    At any rate, it's an interesting idea. But if you're doing the British system, be prepared to be hungry. British rationing in the darkest days of the war (ca. 1942 I think) was REALLY tight. I remember reading the ration-lists once, and the amounts of food...PER WEEK...was phenomenally small.
  7. I'll most likely do the American version. I have to find find what they were allowed.
  8. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

    If you are interested in the history of food rationing in wartime look up the work of Dr. Hindhede, who was in charge of food supplies for Denmark in WW1.

    Based on his prewar research he believed meat was unnecessary for health, and that the human need for protein was so small that it was practically impossible to not get enough, provided the person got enough food.

    Under his ration plan, the death rate in Denmark fell 34% to the lowest ever recorded in a European country up to that time. Diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses of modern life practically disappeared.


    At the same time in Germany 400,000 died of malnutrition. The German experts believed it was impossible to survive without meat, and diverted food to feeding livestock that in Denmark would have been used to feed people.
    Bixie Bliss likes this.
  9. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

    "I wonder when the vegetarian and vegan diet became more popular."
    This is impossible to say, but we do know that a vegetarian and vegan type of diet was endorsed by many ancient philosophers and religious leaders.

    The first well known American proponent was Sylvester Graham of Graham flour and Graham cracker fame. He did a considerable amount of research in the 1830s and based on his readings of authors ancient and modern, concluded that liquor is bad for you and so is tobacco and that you should not eat meat or spices. The only foods he could whole heartedly endorse were fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grain bread, preferably home made.

    The Seventh Day Adventists took up his teachings. According to the US Census reports Seventh Day Adventists are the longest living set of people in America, with a lifespan 4 to 9 years longer than average and a large number of centenarians.

  10. Flicka

    Flicka One Too Many

    It was the same here in Sweden - we were never healthier than during the war years. The explanation I've seen has been partially diet (lots of veggies, less sugar, less meat, little alcohol), partially that people exercised so much (walking, bike riding; due to petrol shortage). It's quite often cited in regards to research about heart diseases and the like, though I don't have any sources or hard statistics available.

    I know. But the idea is to pretend I have a very well-kept garden that magically yields all year long so that I can eat "free" amounts of veggies and stuff like potatoes (which everyone obviously didn't in real life, but I don't want to be malnutrioned or starve). Looking at what I can find online about rationing, I think it puts me not too far from what I've eaten on the WW program. Since I'm mostly vegetarian, I might also pretend I have a friendly meat-loving neighbour with whom I can trade my meat-rations for some more eggs and dairy products. Seriously, you could get a lot of split peas and the like under the system and that's an excellent source of protein.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
  11. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

    "It's quite often cited in regards to research about heart diseases and the like, though I don't have any sources or hard statistics available."

    Here is a report by Dr. Hindhede. It appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1920 and summarizes his findings on the effects of his ration plan.


    I doubt there was much difference in exercise in WW1. Private cars were rare then, the trams and trains continued to run, and horse drawn transport was not affected.

    He does not mention rationing of the quantity of food people got, only the quality. He says whole grain rye bread, made with additional barley and wheat bran, barley porridge, potatoes, greens, and a little milk and butter were the usual fare. Pork and beef were available in small amounts, the pork mostly consumed by the farmers who raised it, and beef so expensive that only the rich could afford it. Distilling of liquor was halted, and brewers had their grain supply cut in half.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
  12. Flicka

    Flicka One Too Many

    That is for Denmark of course, but I think the results were pretty much the same here - we relied on potatoes to a very large extent, and bread was rather expensive. I'm going to an exhibition at the Army Museum about allotments during the War and I hope to pick up some books and stuff there.

    And yes, during WWI people always walked, and all distances etc. were adapted to that. During WWII, cities especially were constructed to be traversed using trams and buses and so the petrol shortage had much greater effect.
  13. Alice Blue

    Alice Blue One of the Regulars

    According to A World Undone, a history of WWI by G.J. Meyer, the German food supply also failed because they did not deploy women into agricultural labor as was done in Britain and the US.

    My grandparents grew up in Sweden during WWI and complained later about having nothing to eat but potatoes. They also both mentioned the Swedish famine of 1918.

    Getting back to WWII, I'd be very interested in Flicka's explorations and findings about Sweden at that time.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013
  14. In the spring of 1942, just before rationing began in the US, the Office of Defense Health and Wellness Services began the "U. S. Needs Us Strong" campaign, the first major national effort to promote a planned nutrition schedule.

  15. Would they have had access to foods not really grown locally? For example, here in WA it's nearly impossible to grow tomatoes.
  16. Nick D

    Nick D Call Me a Cab

    My wife and I have been using British wartime recipes for our daily meals for a couple of years. We aren't rationing, but those recipes are really very good, and very healthy. We had been working on making our food healthier before, but the wartime cookbooks have really helped (though we have replaced some things like lard with healthier alternatives). That, along with an intermittent fasting diet and exercise have helped me lose 30 pounds since mid-September.
  17. Shipping of fresh vegetables was somewhat curtailed by gasoline and tire rationing, hence the encouraging of "victory gardens" for fresh vegetables. You could get fresh produce shipped in, but it was sporadic and tended to disappear fast.

    Most people ate canned or frozen vegetables, but these went on the ration as of March 1, 1943, with alloted quantities varying over the course of the year based on supplies and demand. A complicated point system was used to determine exactly what ration stamps were valid for which items, and for how long, and the number of points required reflected the relative scarcity of the product. So if you liked tomatoes, you might be able to get them occasionally, but you'd have to decide if you'd rather spend the points on something that would go further, like beans or corn.
  18. Flicka

    Flicka One Too Many

    Hm... Could have sworn I posted here earlier but I can't see the post so I guess I failed. Anyway; I have a (Swedish) wartime cookbook on how to use what they call "SMP whites and yellows" which is some sort of egg substitute. I have tried googling it, but all I can find are references to other wartime cookbooks. I think it was made from some sort of milk product, and I guess something similar was in use in other countries. Does anyone know what it might be?
  19. So really, the only items that weren't rationed was what you could grow or raise yourself. And in my case, WA has a super short growing season.
    Would restaurants be rationed as well?

    I requested a wartime cookbook form inter library loan today.
  20. I find that poster a bit... odd. I know for both my parents thimgs like oranges were a special treat in the 1950s- as in you got one in your stocking at christmas, or for your birthday. (They were both raised far from places where citrus fruit grew.) Juice was also limited to small glasses, although that came in cans.

    I think a huge problem now is that we eat out of season and fresh food just isn't as good out of season. That should be a large part of a ration diet.

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