Calorie Watching in 1973

Calorie Watching in 1973
Claudette Pelletier-Hannah

I recently took a close look at an old cookbook, copyright 1973. Between the covers of this now unbounded tome are over 700, yellowed pages of recipes and encyclopedic information on everything food-related.

Not surprisingly, a lot has changed since 1973.

The Vegetables section is mostly illustrations and general info with very few recipes – most of them for potatoes. It totals only 39 pages.

There’s a section called For Calorie Watchers. It recommends a diet of 1200 calories for women, 1900 calories for men. Included are (yucky) recipes based on creating a calories in/calories out deficit to lose one to two pounds a week.

If you’ve been following me for any length of time you probably know that there is a lot more to weight management than calories in/calories out. That hasn’t worked for most people. And the formulas don’t add up.

We are much bigger than we were in 1973. “If you want to lose more than five pounds, get your doctor’s approval before you start.” Really? If you’re worried about an extra five pounds today you need something else to worry about. Please don’t diet!

Tips found under Everyday Calorie Cutters:
“14. Drain syrup from canned fruit and substitute unsweetened orange or pineapple juice for a flavor change and calorie saver.
28. When using instant rice and potatoes, prepare just enough for one serving per person, to avoid the temptation of leftovers and seconds.
29. Packaged frozen French fries, heated in the oven, yield only 125 calories for a small serving; deep-fried or the homemade kind yield 155 calories.”

As these tips are all about processed food, I’m not endorsing any of them. But here’s one I can get behind.
43. Snack on pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Buy the in-shell variety; they’re less expensive and because you must shell them you will eat more slowly.”

From the recipes in the Calorie Watchers section: “Frankfurter on roll, sauerkraut, fruit, milk.” It includes mustard, catchup, or relish as desired. “For men: Add ¾ cup tomato, noodle or vegetable-beef soup.” More processed food!

We know today that all calories are not equal when it comes to weight management. Processed foods are more likely to lead to weight gain and poor health, in part because we consume more. And they’re loaded with sugar, fat and salt.

Processed food is not going away; it has become more sophisticated than ever, more purposely addictive. The options are greater, with some better than others. Restaurants serving highly processed foods are everywhere.

Remember that the closer a food is to its natural state the more nutrition you’ll find. Think cooked oats vs. granola bar, or fresh blueberries vs. blueberry jam.

There’s good news. We’re ever so slowly moving away from dieting. We know much more about nutrition. Today’s consumers are becoming more educated and conscientious about food, where vegetarianism and even veganism is more mainstream. We want local, farm-to-table, organic, fair-trade, and gluten-free products – and we can get them.

Is it time to upgrade your menu, food sources or your cookbooks?

For some reason I’ve kept this out-of-date book. The internet provides any recipe we could ever imagine. Remember when cookbooks were a common Christmas gift? I haven’t received a new cookbook in many years. Just sayin’.