The Wartime Rations Diet: Could Going Back In Time Make Us Healthier (And Slimmer?)

Kim Easton Smith

There's no denying that wartime Brits had a tough lot. Constant fear of attack, bombings, men sent off to foreign lands never to return, and years of rationing that required clever, but often rather bland, recipes took their toll.

But along with the difficulties, Brits at home were actually healthier during this period than we are now. And it has a lot to do with the vegetable-heavy diets that rationing brought in.

One woman who knows this more than most is Carolyn Ekins, who lost 80lbs following a wartime rations 'diet' in 2012.

After going back to her normal diet she piled the pounds back on and now plans to go for a year on 1940s food, aiming to lose 100lbs this time round. And she's keeping a blog abouther experiences (and unusual rationing recipes).

["I haven't eaten hot food for seven years, and never felt better]
[Super-fit body builder told to eat less and lose weight by nurse]

The British Government's weekly rations for one adult were:

4oz Bacon & Ham
Meat to the value of 1 shilling and sixpence (around about 1/2 lb minced beef)
2oz Butter
2oz Cheese
4oz Margarine
4oz Cooking fat
3 pints Milk
8oz Sugar
1lb of preserves every two months
2oz Tea
One fresh egg per week
12ox Sweets/Candy every four weeks

There was also a points system which meant you had to choose the tinned and imported goods you wanted wisely. You were given 16 points every four weeks. This was enough to buy a can of fish or 8lbs of split peas.

Carolyn explains on her blog: "When you try and produce all your own food from scratch using the above ingredients and realise just how precious or even how difficult it was at times to obtain other necessary food stuffs like flour, oats etc. it really makes you appreciate how difficult and how important the role was of the 1940’s housewife to feed her family and keep them healthy."

A history fan, Carolyn had been recreating rationing recipes for 10 years before going the hole hog and living off rations-only.

She told the Daily Mail: "The first two or three weeks or rationing was like going cold turkey. To begin with, I felt it was really bland, but after a week or two I began to appreciate it because my palate had changed.

"I used to eat pounds of cheese a week, but the ration was as much as you’d have on one generous slice of cheese on toast. It made me realise how much I’d been consuming."

This month she's beginnig her new 1940s project, to stick to rationing meals for a year. In a post on her blog she explains:

"I aim to lose 100lbs during the next 12 months following a typical 1940′s wartime ration diet. Weighed in at 20st 10lbs (290lbs) and my goal is about 13st (182lbs). In 2012 I lost 80lbs following a wartime ration diet so I know I can do it but I have to learn to maintain and not return to eating habits that put weight back on again."

Carolyn has three children, who have all mucked in and eaten her wartime creations, including 'apricot' tart (made with carrots) and Lord Woolton Pie (which can only be described as a festival of vegetables with potato pastry). They're not always keen.

"They loved the Anzac biscuits, made from oats and desiccated coconut, and the carrot cookies — but anything that involved Spam or curry didn’t go down well," she said.

"What I mostly did was to slip vegetables into cakes without telling them, because if I’d said I was doing apricot flan made from carrots they wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole."

Keep an eye on her blog - 1940sexperiment.com - for Carolyn's progress and recipes.