Take a leaf out of grandm ’ boo
These simple daily practices are worth copying — because they helped keep your ancestors healthier (with the science to prove it!)
1 Sit at the dinner table as a family
“Eating food mindfully, without watching a TV or phone screen, makes people feel significantly more satisfied after a meal and more connected with others,” says Collins. “Studies also show that eating meals as a family is associated with better mental health, self-esteem and school performance in children.”
2 Spend less on takeaway
“Some Australian households now spend nearly 50 per cent of their food budget on discretionary foods, such as cakes, lollies, biscuits, soft drinks, crisps, takeaway food, meals out, and alcohol,” says Collins. “But cooking meals at home, as your grandmother did, reduces your intake of saturated fat, salt, sugar and kilojoules — promoting a healthier weight as well as lowering your risk of heart disease and diabetes.”
And when you cook meals at home rather than buying them from a takeaway, you’re much more likely to use grandma’s healthier methods like boiling, or modern steaming.
3 COOK FROM SCRATCH
“This ensured grandma’s family ate less salt, sugar, fats, kilojoules, preservatives and artificial flavours,” says Aloysa Hourigan, Senior Nutritionist with Nutrition Australia. “Your grandma knew all the ingredients that were in her home-cooked meals and she hardly ever ate processed foods.” The food was simple — but often more wholesome.
4 USE SMALLER PLATES
“Dinner plates and other crockery were usually smaller, so portions were smaller and ‘a plateful of food’ automatically had fewer kilojoules,” says Hourigan. You ‘eat’ with your eyes too — so dining off a small, full plate can make you feel full. Recall the ‘70s lifestyle mantra: ‘small is beautiful’.
5 Have three square meals
Far fewer people went on diets in grandma’s day — yet people weighed less, not more. “Severe restriction of food groups makes a diet difficult to maintain in the long term, and less likely to be nutritionally adequate,” says Collins. “While diets may help with short-term weight loss, once you divert from the diet back to your old habits, the weight is regained — in fact, you may possibly even gain more.” Start with small, sustainable changes, such as choosing fruit as a snack, and replacing white bread with wholegrain.
6 Take time for breakfast
This is a double win for waistline and health. People who skip breakfast tend to eat more kilojoules at lunch and experience greater hunger, which can lead to snacking, according to a study from Cornell University in the US.