Would a wartime diet help our waistlines?
By Lena on January 2, 2013
By 1939 the Second World War was underway and enemy u-boats targeted goods vessels bound for Great Britain hoping to weaken the home front. Food supplies were threatened and to help keep control of potentially dwindling provisions, rationing was introduced. But did food rationing also have a positive side that we could learn from now? Jasmine Phillips has tried and tested a Forties diet for a week. Here’s her verdict.
Endured by the British public for 14 years, food and fuel among other things were strictly limited, meaning that people were forced to eat less and walk or cycle to their destinations. Such thin, active women wore naturally small clothes and, as I was once told by a vintage dealer, there are now reams of beautiful but tiny vintage dresses to be found from the period.
He had picked up a number of these petite dresses over the years, but discovered, much to his dismay, that he simply could not display them in his shop; the reason, ‘None of my customers could fit into the dresses, and it just depressed them.’
In order to wear the dresses, should a true vintage queen adopt the lifestyle and eating habits of another era? Taking inspiration from the dietary transformations that the ration book necessitated, I began to actively consider if Forties living could be a sustainable way of life in these modern times.
The ration book was very strict about what your allowance was, and a significant number of staple food items were regulated. Every individual was issued with one alongside an ID card, and in turn had to be registered to a specific shop so that the shop keeper could order in exactly the amount needed for the number of customers they had.
Even the shop keepers were frugal with their stock. Your allowance of these items would have varied slightly throughout the war depending on what was available, but I took figures from 1945 and, while perusing my local supermarket, worked out that in today’s terms you would be allocated on a weekly basis the equivalent of:
2 Rashers of Bacon
Any Meat to the value of £2 (meat was rationed in monetary terms)
57g Cheese (1/3 small block)
57g Butter (1/3 packet)
57g Cooking Fat/Lard
57g Tea (15 bags)
230g Sugar (1/2 small bag)
One jar of jam per month
340g of sweets per month