When I was growing up, nutritionists concentrated on the basic four food groups; dairy, meat, grain and fruits/vegetables. We also ate three major meals a day, plus a milk break in midmorning for elementary school students.
Most of the people in our community grew their own fruits and vegetables. We would spend Spring and summer canning and freezing this produce. Most of it was processed with little to no salt, which made it better than the store bought varieties.
Our family would choose a calf on my great uncle’s farm. The meat was split between those members that helped pay for it. Meat was served once a day in our home, the rest of the meals centered on dairy, grains, fruit and vegetables.
The reason I mention the above is to counter what many think about the barbaric days before the Food Pyramid. Recommended foods haven’t changed all that much. The problem isn’t what we should eat, it’s what we choose to eat.
Let me give you some examples. As a kid, my breakfast was a bowl of cereal. If it was cold, it would probably be oatmeal or cream of wheat. The rest of the time, it would be regular cereal. Mom is a nurse, so the cereal usually wasn’t sweetened.
Lunch was almost always a sandwich. One of my favorites at the time was a tomato sandwich, though I’ve yet to convince many that it’s ok to leave the lunchmeat out of it. During the summer, it would be a larger meal because of all the work that needed to be done. Then it would be fresh from the garden. Green beans with new potatoes, slices of tomato, cole slaw, cucumbers, corn on the cob and so on was very filling. The beans, corn and squash (cucumber) provided us with a complete protein.
Dinner was served about four o’clock. It would be leftovers from lunch and some sort of meat dish. Sometimes, we skipped meat then and had a bowl of beans with fresh bread. Does that sound like a barbaric diet?
I wish I could still eat like that. I miss many of the tastes that come from something that was growing when I got up in the morning. It fits the food pyramid probably better than what I eat now, and it was done without much in the way of educating the people. They were eating like that before the Civil War.
It is time, I think, that we consider going back to this sort of diet. Bacon and eggs are great treats, but oatmeal consumed on a regular basis is going to cut cholesterol and not add to it. Most of us don’t need meat three times a day. Once is fine. In fact, skipping it out totally once in a while is fine.
I can tell you from experience that farming is exercise. Whether it’s caring for the animals or tending the large kitchen garden, there is plenty of walking, lifting, bending and other movements that constitute a workout. I’m not saying we should all go back to living on farms, but if you don’t, find a gym, go for a walk or take up swimming. Do something that will cause your body to get the workout it needs to stay healthy. If we were to do that, we would see the obesity epidemic in the U.S. disappear.