This new project has been inspired by various recent incidents. 1. The Memsahib said: “You have to do something about that stomach.” 2. My trousers seem to be getting smaller. 3. The presenters of the “We have ways…” podcast; the comedian and author Al Murray and the historian and author James Holland are talking about a Lent 2023 project of living on British WW2 rations. I thought I would give it a try for advent before a Christmas extravaganza.
Background: I was born in 1954, one month before rationing ended in Britain. I do not remember rationing, but the end of rationing was not the end of austerity. I remember my mother in the early 1960s pushing me and my younger sister on/in the pram three miles to town for shopping. Later I learned that she would walk the length of the High Street checking prices, then return buying the cheapest options. If she had saved at least 3d (three pence, or about 60p today) she would treat herself to a chocolate bar for that price, and then push us and the shopping the three miles home. I have seen her account books from the time and in retrospect I am amazed at what my mother achieved. We children were never aware that we were poor until my father was invalided from work in the late 1960s and we had to register for free school meals.
In retrospect it appears that British people living on the rations and locally grown vegetables were healthier on average than at any time before or since the war. The poor were “beefed up” and the obese were slimmed down. Even those who could afford to dine out were restricted to a 5-shilling meal (£12 today) with a maximum of three courses and only one course to include meat or fish.
So, how do I start with the 1940s diet? I have researched the information of adult rations during the war. They were adjusted from time to time. I have the basics for 1943 and have ordered copies of the 1944 ration book, with which I intend to proceed as a record of my progress.
Step 1. Tea. In 1944 each adult was allowed 2 ounces of tea per week. In today’s terms that is equivalent to 22 tea bags per week, or around 3 “cuppas” per day. I tend to re-use my teabags, so I can enjoy at least 5 half-decent cups a day. I have no idea about coffee rations, but since coffee was mainly a drink for “forriners” or posh folk I don’t care. I do not see the tea ration being a personal issue. My only tweak is to use de-caffeinated tea bags,
2 thoughts on “A new diet?”
I great idea- it will be very interesting to see how the diet goes.
Shrinking trousers … a well-known winter problem for men! 🙂