After a chat with my grandparents on what they ate when they grew up, there seems to be no great difference between diets 50 years back and diets 80 odd years back. The big difference seems to have been the addition of milk (usually meant owning a cow then) as people become "richer".
Monday, March 16, 2009
Now, what that means is that over one or two generations, our dietary habits have changed considerably.
Some of it is because of availability of "foreign" vegetables. Some of it is because, people stopped growing stuff in their own backyard (backyards became smaller to non existent too) - which meant that vegetables that need to be consumed pretty much "on site" would get relegated in favour of vegetables that had better shelf life. If there was a migration to the cities in this generation, then that meant packaged foods like bread, biscuits were introduced (and back then, bread was supposed to be good as was vanaspati). A lot of items that were made at home, were mass produced.
Then, a generation later (now) maida was recognized as a health hazard, vanaspati has been mostly banished outside home kitchens, packaged foods changed their appearance to appear healthy and with less sugar, transfat and what not...leading to what can be called the great comeback towards health - which is why an attempt at tracking the diets about a 100 years ago.
And seeing that, food, obviously, was not such an important of their lives - clearly not on a day to day basis! Food also was not a recreational activity unless there was a feast someplace. Eating out? What was that?
Over the past few generations, the difference is that as our diets get worse, our activity also levels go down. Or, as we progress up the social ladder, our activity levels go down. Now its not as straightforward as that. Somewhere along the way, we catch up with our health - and decide that we need to change our diets, increase our activity levels etc.
In general, you can eat anything and get away with it - if your activity levels are high. That means, you walk about 6 kms a day on an average (!) - thats a brisk walk for an hour.
Otherwise, we are eating way more than what our body requires which then accumulates in all the wrong places blocking arteries and what not. More later...
A lot of this learning as come from my own personal experience. Shun packaged foods - even juices. Shun anything that has flour and/or hydrogenated vegetable oil. Prefer fruits over juices. Try to get rid of fried items, pickles from your diet.
And live by this article the starting lines of which (Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants) seems to have been the mantra of our healthier ancestors.