Old Health Book: “Your Body — A Wonderful Gift”

Post 2: More shots of the 1940’s health book I found in the library’s free bin. Not sure if I should laugh or cry… (Here’s my first post about this book)

“It is what we eat that makes the difference.”

The book reads like propaganda, but there’s something about it that sounds almost naive. It was a different time.

Only Wholesome Foods Are Good”

From the book, “It is not correct to call what you eat ‘food‘ unless it is wholesome. Anything else that you eat can, at best, waste body energy. It cannot do you much good. In fact, it can even be harmful.

“The Farmer Tills the Soil. Mother Builds a Son.”

That just sounds awkward.

“The right kinds of foods made the difference”

The picture shows two boys. The boy on the left has been eating tons of sugar and is gaunt and malnourished while the boy on the right is, I’m guessing, the idealized kid eating a well-rounded meal and staying trim. Did people in the 1940’s think that eating too many sweets and too much sugar would make you skinny and gaunt? What do you think happens to your body if you eat too much sugary foods? I think of that belly roll.

 Some Important Fuel Foods

From the book, “Fats and oils make twice as much heat and enerby as starches and sugars. This is a good thing to remember when extra heat andenergy ar needed.”

I’m not sure if you can see the list clearly in the photo, but I really like the message that fats are good. I’m not sure I agree with offering kids lard, but I do believe that kids today aren’t getting enough good fats.

This book is trip! What do you think?

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40 thoughts on “Old Health Book: “Your Body — A Wonderful Gift”

  1. Oh my…I only wish eating too much sugar would make me thin, I wouldn’t have to skip dessert or order a small/child size cone when we got ice cream. Times sure have changed!

  2. Lard is far less processed than most vegetable oils.  If used in moderation in cooking, why would it be a problem?

      1. Lard from pastured pigs is a great source of Vitamin D and monounsaturated fat.  I can’t wait to get our pastured pig in October… I will have lots of healthy lard to use in my kitchen!  🙂

  3. That book looks like a lot of fun!  But I agree, what’s wrong with lard?  You have to read the labels, because some brands are partially hydrogenated to help with shelf life, but pure lard is a better bet than vegtable shortening.  Plus, it makes awesome pie crusts….  One of these days, I’m going to get the courage together to render lard myself, using fat from a pig farmer I know and trust.  But the thought of large pots of hot fat on the stove scares me!

    The fats I keep on hand at all times:  lard, butter, olive oil. 

  4. I totally agree about the good fats. I took my 8 year old daughter for her annual doctors check up yesterday and the only diet related question he asked was what type of milk does she drink. I said full fat, and he told me she should be drinking 2%. Really? That’s the only information on healthy eating a doctor can suggest to pass on? I can only assume that as he could see she was not overweight and very active and healthy, we didn’t need any extra diet information. But why are we fixating on milk as the culprit, when there are much greater evils out there in the food most kids are eating? And btw I choose to give my kids full fat, as I think it is a much better option than any reduced fat variety for many reasons. 

    1. Amen. I think a lot of physicians are ill-informed. I support full fat all the way — we’re growing brains here, after all.

    2. Just a note: most physicians get very little (if any) training in nutrition. I have yet to speak to a physician who was satisfied with the amount of training they recieved in regards to nutrition. As a nutrition student who is interested in preventative “medicine,” I think it is appaling that physicians are not informed about the vital role that nutrition plays in the treatment and prevention of disease. If you want solid nutrition advice, you would be better off going to a registered dietitian or a naturopathic doctor. Both will be much better informed than your average family practice physician.

      1. Totally agree about the naturopath, I go to one myself, but we have to have a ‘real’ doctor sign the medical forms for school. Interesting to note that this doctor must be in his 70’s so would have trained way before all these low fat fads came into being, and probably grew up with lard. I didn’t challenge him, but wish I had now.

        I find it so frustrating how quick the medical profession is to prescribe drugs to fix an ailment, when so many times a change in diet should be the first option, and can make a huge difference. Even with out the influence of the drug companies many doctors don’t make the connection between health and food, which I find astounding. My mother recently had bowel cancer and after being given the all clear, asked her oncologist if he could refer her to a dietician. His response ” why would you want to do that?” And that’s from a gastro specialist!

  5. You seem to be really frightened of animal products. Lard and fish sticks are bad but processed deya “cheese” and coconut yogurt are good? I know you have dairy tolerance issues in your house, but still, it’s something I have noticed. I hope this comment doesn’t seem rude.

  6. I think it’s good to point out that not all kids (or people in general) on a bad diet will be fat. Parents look at their kids that live on sugar, fast food and processed foodstuffs and if they’re skinny, assume that means that they’re healthy. Plenty of kids on McDiets chunk out. However, I’ve seen kids who’s bodies seem to go to the other extreme – they’re not getting the nutrients that the NEED, so their bodies stop holding onto ANYTHING. I nannied for one kid who was so skinny that you could see the striations in his muscles through his skin. 🙁 

    1. Wow. That’s terrible. In this culture, skinny = power. If you are skinny, you are powerful, sexy, in control. We need to focus on nutrition not on size.

  7. At least in the 1940s, schools were talking with kids about the relationship between what they eat and their health.  I have the impression that’s rare today.  We have a whole generation of adults who are woefully ignorant of nutrition.  That leaves little hope for future generations if schools don’t step up to the plate (heh, I made a food pun!) and once again start teaching kids about nutrition and now food gets to their plate.

    I think the fear of lard comes from the old-school concept that all saturated fats must be avoided.  When that was the rule of thumb, not much was known about the role of LDLs, HDLs, Omega-3s and -6s, and so forth in cardiovascular disease.  Now we know better.

    1. I don’t know a thing about lard except that my dad ate lard as a kid. I’m assuming it’s something created at home, which means it’s probably not bad…

      1. Most people who use lard buy it at the grocery store (usually in the dairy case) although it can be rendered at home from pork trimmings.  I’ve never done it but I understand the process is fairly straightforward, just a little time-consuming and messy.  I do save bacon drippings, however, and since I only buy organic, uncured bacon, I’m comfortable cooking with bacon drippings occasionally.  My parents and both of my grandmothers used to save and use bacon drippings as well.

        My dad was born in 1930 so he was a kid during the Great Depression.  My grandparents owned a neighborhood grocery store during those years so having enough to eat, and nice things to eat, wasn’t an issue for the family.  My dad brought a meat sandwich to school for lunch every day (he attended parochial school that didn’t serve lunch) but most of his classmates typically brought lard and sugar sandwiches for lunch because their families couldn’t afford meat for lunch every day.My mom was born in 1931 so she also grew up during the Great Depression.  She disliked anything fatty when she was a kid and wouldn’t eat lard and sugar sandwiches, but my uncle and my grandfather loved them.  My mom usually took a jelly sandwich to school instead.  People who ate lard and sugar sandwiches in those days weren’t necessarily poor.  Many were considered middle class but times were tough for everyone.  Both of my grandmothers used lard to make pie crust and biscuits (and probably other things I’m just not remembering at the moment) and I remember seeing packages of it in their refrigerators. It was more or less a staple for them.

        1. When I posted this comment, that huge 2nd paragraph was split into 3 paragraphs.  So why did it post as one huge paragraph?  Anyone know if that could be a Disqus problem?  No tragedy but it’s just not as easy to read in one big ugly lump like that.  I’m also down on Disqus right now so I’m inclined to blame them for any glitches.  Apologies for the whining, Mrs. Q!  My AC is on the fritz and it’s been sooooo hot & humid here the past few days.  Poor me!  Wah wah wah!  

  8. I wonder what our kids will look back and think of our reading material? or this blog? As a whole, we are learning more everyday. This blog alone has really opened my eyes and I just would like to say, thank you Mrs. Q, for making my grocery trip longer because I flip over every package to read the ingredients. HAHA. no really, im sincere 🙂

    Also, I found this article today.
    Strange, it states for kids to put their lunches in the fridge at school… I dont think my kids elem. school would be willing to store several hundred packed lunches. I believe it to be the parents responsibility to pack lunches in a fashion that they are safe to consume at lunch time. Just a thought.

    1. Storing packed lunches is really a problem. Schools can’t store a few much less several hundred. I guess that’s why we need to fix school lunch! 🙂

      1. I suppose if lunch were stored classroom by classroom, and lunchbox bulk was severely restricted it could work. But what an increase in electrical costs!

        Better to remember that children have been eating unrefrigerated lunches for decades or more without it being a huge health crisis.

  9. We use animal fats here too.  Grocery store lard is bad hydrogenated stuff, but if you find a farmer who properly raises, feeds, and pastures their pigs, then we’re talking good stuff.  I render my own fats from a certified organic farm with animals who get sunlight, fresh grass, and proper food.  Every day we use tallow, lard, ghee, butter, or coconut oil as our fats.

    Our family is healthier (inside and out!) than we have ever been since we switched to a traditional foods diet. If you are interested in boosting your or your family’s immune system and/or being able to consume dairy again, I highly recommend the Specific Carbohydrate Diet or the GAPS Diet (both are healing diets).  Your dietary stories/struggles are typical stories for both diets, and it’s very possible to mend compromised digestive systems.

  10. I am surprised to see so many people jumping to the defense of lard as a nutritionally beneficial source of fat. Lard, as evidenced by its solid state at room temperature, is relatively high in saturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids are chemically similar to the trans-unsaturated fatty acids that are found in partially hydrogenated vegetable shortening. While the saturated fats in lard may not directly raise blood cholesterol, according to Ginny Messina, MPH, RD, “Some types of saturated fat (including the palmitic acid in lard) have
    been shown to have other effects in the body which raise risk for heart
    disease.” Read her full post on the subject here: http://www.theveganrd.com/2009/06/saturated-fats-heart-disease-and-other-things-we-still-don%E2%80%99t-understand.html

     It appears to me that many of the proponents of lard are touting its benefits without considering the scientific research that has been done on the subject. We should not immediately embrace food products simply because they were used by generations past, nor should we reject new food products out of fear of the unknown. I am an undergraduate majoring in biochemistry, and I believe it is important to consider the scientific literature in nutrition before making sweeping statements about the dietary benefits of a single food product or a specific diet.

    1. I have a BS in Biology, a BA in Chemistry and 2 years of graduate research in Molecular Biology .  Do more research on pastured lard… it ROCKS!!  Also, I cannot wait until the big fat lie that saturated fat is soooooo bad for you is finally, once and for all, forever and ever debunked in the mainstream media.

      I’ll take grass fed tallow, pastured lard, pastured butter, and coconut oil over genetically modified canola and corn oil ALWAYS.   

    2. And if you’re eating copious amounts of deep-fried lard and butter, that’s a problem.

      If you’re using lard to bake your piecrusts, well, you shouldn’t be eating so much pie that it matters what sort of shortening you use.

    3.  I agree that we shouldn’t just automatically embrace food products because they’ve always been used, but your statement that sat fats are chemically similar to trans fats is unhelpful. Our skin is one molecule away from being plastic, but my body is not held together by plastic (no offense meant to bionic men or women reading this).

      The sat fat in lard also is a good source of stearic acid, which is good for the heart and often sold as a supplement (not as good of a source as, say, pastured beef). If you live in the tropics, the lard may also be a good source of lauric acid (assuming that the pigs have eaten coconut).

      As for cholesterol, the real problem is inflammation. Cholesterol is supposed to work as a band-aid. It’s what our cells are made of, what our brains are made of, and it is the primary force in wound healing. When you experience inflammation, your body sends cholesterol to fix it. You end up with cholesterol that gets built up because of a deficiency in, likely, choline, which keeps it slippy and lets it keep moving on. High cholesterol is the symptom, not the cause. If you don’t get enough cholesterol in your diet, your liver will make up the difference. Hence, statins. Statins do not reduce dietary cholesterol, but they do stop your liver from properly performing its function.  It’s like claiming that a cast causes a broken leg.  Correlation, not causation.

      (why the cholesterol argument applies: veg/grain oils are exceedingly high in omega 6, which in turn is highly inflammatory)

      I agree that scientific studies in nutrition are incredibly important. However, most are funded or performed by the very companies that stand to benefit from a result in their favor. Those studies, I don’t trust. I also flat out refuse to go back to my old way of eating (low fat, and that fat was poly-un). My health was HORRIBLE, and I’m still working out the kinks. But I’ve had nothing but improvement since cutting out veg oils and switching to coconut oil and animal fats. But, I will grant you, the animal fats that I use are mostly from animals on pasture- not CAFO junk.

  11. I remember seeing a book very similar to this in my grandparent’s basement when I was growing up.  The book had to have been from the same era, because the professions that were listed as being “acceptable” for women were homemaker, secretary, and teacher.

    Through this blog, my own weight-loss journey, and my own research, I am shocked at how much processed foods are on the shelves.  I’ve never cooked with lard, but I’d always give it a try.  I hold the belief that the less processed it is, the better.

  12. Ah, lard.  When my maternal grandmother–who was Mexican–lived with us, we always had a big ol’ tin of lard on hand so she could cook. My mom sniffed at it, but bought it for her anyway because she knew the taste was better.  I grew up hearing that lard was pretty damn bad for you and was to be avoided.  I live in SoCal, and it seems that wherever I go, I see Mexican food touted as being made “lard free!”

  13. Since this book was written in the 40’s it might be that dietary needs were different, in that, the children [and parents] were much more active working on the farms where the raised the foods they ate.

    I come from a family of farmers who raised all of their own food, including meats, and most lived quite a long time – past the life expectancy age.  My husband’s parents are turning 80 soon and his grandmother will be 100 in 5 months.  All are in great health and grew up with diets exactly like this.  Of course, now that they are no longer “active on the farm” they eat a different diet, but it obviously did not seem to affect them into middle age.

    I am glad you get such a kick out of reading how poor their diets are, but you have to remember what WAS included [fresh fruits, vegetables and meats with no pesticides or chemicals] and what wasn’t – preservatives  and the like.

    It might just be the balance.

  14. Oh my god—this is HILARIOUS! Thanks for this—I needed a laugh. If sugar made me thin then I would have blown away long ago because I have a major sweet tooth.

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