I am happy to report that since I’ve been following my new “diet” and exercise program, I have dropped exactly 9 pounds since the last week of May. I’ve lost 13 pounds in total since January 1; obviously, I wasn’t really trying until May. I saw my doctor on Tuesday and she’s pleased with what I’m eating, how much I’m eating, the exercise that I’m getting, and how happy I’ve been. Granted, my blood sugars were high (104). However, my A1C was right on the money, which means I’m not pre-diabetic. My blood pressure was ok, but could be brought down a bit. She is confident that my new diet and exercise program will lower my sugar and blood pressure in a few months time … and yes, I will continue to lose weight.
So what am I doing and what does it have to do with the 1950s? Glad you asked. I started to think about how my Mom fed us and all of her advice through the years. I also started to wonder when and how we went wrong in our eating habits as a society. When did fat get its bad reputation? When did carbs become the enemy?
I knew that there were fad diets all throughout the 20th century; however, they seemed to proliferate in popular culture during the 60s through today. Once something relegated to advertisements and mail-away promotionals in magazines, fad diets now take up predominate space in our culture, on our bookshelves, on television, and on the internet. Everyday we are bombarded with seemingly quick and easy solutions to our increasingly growing waistlines. From Scarsdale to Atkins to Paleo and Keto, fad diets take our hard-earned money and occupy a huge portion of our quest for health. But, was it always like this?
As you may have already guessed, the ideals of cooking at home, focusing on nutrient-rich, whole foods, and daily activity was the backbone of the American lifestyle before mid-century. While researching pre- and early post-World War II American diets, four main things became clear: folks ate at home more often, they took lunch everyday, portions were a whole lot smaller, and folks walked pretty much every chance they got.
However, mid-century America also saw the trend of increasing waistlines because of a post war boom, packaged and processed foods, and the growth of the suburbs and communities like Levittown, NY. Folks indulged in a post-war boom without modifying how much they ate, prompting doctors and nutritionists to develop weight management eating plans that were anchored in food science. According to many doctors, like the one in the video below, Americans needed to learn how to modify their eating habits and portion size with the foods they already were accustomed to eating. And they needed to get more exercise. Simple enough.
It was this video that got my head spinning and my research gears going. This plan looked so good and easy to achieve! I cook. And look at that food!!! To make sure that this plan was legitimate, I read through 1950s home economic books and found the nutritional chart and weight management charts, above. I had to test whether the calories were correct in the film and eating plan … and wouldn’t you know it? The calories are correct! As long as you prepare the food without adding extra fat, etc. and as long as you are mindful of servings and portions, you most definitely can comfortably eat 1400 to 1600 calories a day and ENJOY THEM!!!
I was floored. All this time everyone — including a doctor in Texas — told me the only way to reduce my weight is to deprive myself of an entire food group (carbs? fat?) or to drastically reduce my caloric intake. And this 1950s plan has proven the opposite. I could eat well and feel good WHILE losing weight.
Here’s what a normal day looks like for me:
- 1 scrambled egg in non-stick pan (no extra fat): 70 cals
- 1 slice of Levi’s rye toast: 90 cals
- 1 pat of salt butter: 35 cals
- 2 cups of coffee, no sugar: 0 cals
- 1/4 cup skim milk (put in my coffee): 20 cals
- 1 cup of strawberries: 50 cals
- 2 cups of salad: 67 cals
- 2 tablespoons of dressing, Greek: 100 cal
- 2 BabyBel cheese: 140 cals
- 3/4 cup Liptons Noodle soup: 70 cal
- 1 peach: 60 cals
- 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt: 120 cals
- 1/2 cup of cucumber for yogurt: 8 cals
- Coffee, no sugar: 0 cals
- 1 tablespoon of skim milk: 5 cals
- 4 oz baked chicken breast: 184 cals
- 1 cup of steamed broccoli: 31 cals
- 1 serving wild rice: 160 cals
- two pats of butter: 70 cal
- Klondike bar: 250 cal
TOTAL CALORIES: 1530 cal. NOTE: I drink tons of water.
Typical walk on the treadmill: moderate speed, uphill (difficulty 3.0, incline, 6.0) for an hour. 425 cal burned.
Yes, I cook every day. Yes, this plan takes some prep work and planning. But aren’t I, and you, worth it? The goal is to keep your calories between 1400 and 1600. If you want to see what the meals look like follow me on Instagram! I’ve been posting food porn like crazy! HA!
Now before you get your nighty in a knot and complain that you work all day, that you don’t have time, and that stay-at-home Moms, the housewife, etc. are antiquated ideas that should be put to bed for good, let me make something perfectly clear: EVERYONE should be cooking and cleaning. EVERYONE. Moms who work, Dads who work, kids who are old enough, single Moms, single Dads, young people, folks without kids, folks with furry kids. EVERYONE. I’m not advocating the return of the housewife. I’m advocating that EVERYONE learn how to cook and take care of themselves and their family. Besides, a lot of this food in this plan can be prepped ahead of time and just heated up or eaten cold.
Furthermore, I am quite aware that there were plenty of fad diets in the 1950s and that “everyone” smoked, which kept their weight off. This is the main criticism of food and vintage bloggers who refuse to do their research. The plan that I’m following was created by doctors and nutritionists in the 1950s. I tweaked some things to reflect modern eating habits and health knowledge (good bye saturated fats!), but the basic concepts are the same. Here’s the basic outline; just follow the line of eating indicated in the menu: Google Doc.
Stay tuned for portion control and plate size. Oh boy, are you going to be shocked!!!