Your Grandpa’s Diet Plan

by Brett & Kate McKay on January 1, 2009 · 52 comments

in Health & Sports


With the New Year upon us, many men across the country are making resolutions for how they want to change in 2009. A good portion of men are likely making a commitment to get healthy and lose weight. These men certainly have a lot of information at their fingertips to help them accomplish this goal. Flip through the pages of any men’s health magazine, or stroll the diet section of your neighborhood bookstore, and you will see tons of articles and books claiming to impart the secret to finally shedding your large belly. Their formulas for success always include some combination of downing protein shakes, eating every three hours, cutting carbs, and trying the new crazy awesome super fat-burning fitness routine of the month.

With the treasure trove of information available on diet and fitness in this modern age, you would think that men today would generally be far fitter and trimmer than their forbearers. But as we all know, that isn’t the case. Paradoxically, as health information has increased, so have our guts. Instead of helping men get healthy, the cacophony of new studies and diet recommendations have distracted men from understanding that maintaining a healthy and manly physique is really quite simple. Your grandfather never spent his time measuring out a piece of chicken breast the size of his palm or researching new exercises to work his core. He was too busy working, raising a family, and enjoying life. His physique happened naturally. And so should yours.

Kate’s grandfather, George Novak, is 89 years old.

Brett’s grandfather, Bill Hurst, is 93 years old.

Neither has ever been overweight and they’re both still going strong. Here are their “secrets” to longevity and good health. Truthfully, if your goal is to get chiseled or ripped, you need to follow a rigorous diet and fitness plan, but if you’re simply overweight and want to whittle your waistline to an average size, then Gramps has the secrets to success.

1. Don’t eat anything that comes in a box, tube, or bag. If your great-grandfather wouldn’t have recognized it as food, then it’s not fit for consumption. Stay away from packaged foods, filled with all sorts of preservatives and additives that allow them to sit on a shelf and stay good for a year. Not only are these additives not good for you, companies formulate their foods to bypass your natural hunger/satiety signals and keep you munching past the point of natural fullness.

Instead, base your diet around fresh, whole foods. Your grandfather ate eggs, sausage, bacon, oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch (made with homemade bread and real mayonnaise), and pot roast for dinner. He downed glasses of whole milk, put pats of real butter on his bread, and dove into plates of real potatoes covered with real gravy. The food our grandpas bought from the local grocer was supplemented with produce grown in their backyard gardens. They enjoyed the satisfaction of putting on the table that which they grew themselves. Our grandfathers understood where their food came from and were grateful for it. Do as your grandfather did by skipping the processed junk, tending a garden, and maintaining a connection to your food.


2. Pile on the protein and fats. Grandpa would have thought a Snackwell’s fat-free cookie was a space rock fallen from the skies. He ate protein with every meal-bacon and eggs with breakfast, turkey sandwiches for lunch, and meatloaf for dinner. Recent studies have disproven the theory that saturated fat is bad for you; it’s refined carbs that will truly bring about your downfall. Eating fat and protein boosts your testosterone levels; no wonder Gramps was always ready to swing an axe or shoot an elk. Protein provides muscle building nutrients and keeps you satiated for hours. Dig in.

3. Stop eating on the run and sit down for real meals. The formula for easily and naturally maintaining a healthy weight is simple: eat when hungry, stop when full. Unfortunately, faced with the rushed pace of life and a myriad of distractions, men have lost touch with their delicate hunger/satiety signals. Men today are constantly eating on the go, barely tasting their food as they scarf down Big Macs in the car or inhale Pop Tarts while dashing out the door. Your grandfather ate regular, leisurely meals. He ate all his meals at a real table, with real plates and forks, surrounded by family and friends. He ate slowly and made time for conversation. The television was never on. He wasn’t checking his Blackberry or texting his friends. Your grandpa took time to taste his food. He sensed when he was full and stopped eating. Do as your grandfather did and make your meals a special time to enjoy good food and good company.

4. Control your portion size. Gramps never had lists of forbidden foods, measured his food on a scale, or used a calculator to decipher the correct proportion of carbs, fats, and protein in each meal. He ate the food he was hungry for. How did he avoid getting a gut? Simple: eating normal size portions. Eating normal portions has become increasingly difficult in this modern day. Restaurants and food manufacturers have been increasing portion sizes so that what was once “large” for your grandpa, is a “small” for you. Check out this article on how portion sizes have changed.

You don’t have to cut any food completely out of your diet; you do have to eat in moderation. Moderation is not a punch bowl sized salad from the Cheesecake Factory or a burger that needs to be hoisted up to your mouth with a crane. Grandpa Hurst went out to lunch every day, but he wasn’t served a plate the size of a garbage pail lid. When sitting down to dinner at home, fill your plate with average-sized portions, and then don’t go back for seconds. When going out to eat, it’s often recommended that you put half of it in a to-go box. The reality is that you’re not going to want to place half that burger in a doggie bag; countless studies have shown that the human instinct to clean one’s plate is practically irresistible. The best route is to convince your dining partner to split something with you. Portion control is thus automatic.

Of course your grandpa moved around a lot, too, which helped him stay in tip top shape. If you’re looking for a good old fashioned “fitness routine,” check out the Uncle Buzz Workout.

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bob Iger January 2, 2009 at 5:46 am

Don’t forget physical workout routines, they’re elementary to a healthy life. Our granddads didn’t use to sit hours on end behind a computer.

2 CoffeeZombie January 2, 2009 at 6:27 am

Here in the South, we have a tradition of eating, for New Year’s lunch, a meal consisting of black-eyed peas, ham, and greens (and perhaps some other stuff). This meal is supposed to give one good financial luck in the new year (the black-eyed peas are coins and the greens are dollars, for example).

My mom recently told us that, when she was growing up, she asked once, “Why is it we’re eating poor food for financial luck?” Her mother’s response was, “You don’t understand; back in the Depression, if you had anything more than a dry biscuit, much less ham , to eat, you were rich!”

Certainly, diets changed after the Depression. In addition, my family is all from the South, and at least my grandmother’s family was dirt-poor (I don’t actually know much about my grandfather’s childhood, something I intend to rectify). I can say I’m pretty certain that a diet that consisted of some form of meat in every meal was probably not the norm for the entirety of any of my grandparents’ lives.

Considering that some people are afraid we’re headed in that direction again, I think it’s something that needs saying.

All that said, though, my wife has recently been discovering that everything you know about nutrition is wrong. We’ve been fed a “low-fat” diet for at least as long as I can remember, and yet Americans continue to grow. Why? My wife has found in looking stuff up that carbs burn faster than fat. What this means is that, if you eat a carb-heavy diet, you will probably be hungry again sooner after eating than if you eat a fatty diet.

Meat, of course, provides essential proteins you either just cannot get from vegetables or you have to eat such a varied diet to get that most people just don’t. It provides fat (seriously, who doesn’t want a nicely-marbled steak?), and packs in some nutrients as well.

Of course, it also helps to eat stuff packed with nutrients, so a little can go a long way. Eggs are great for this. So is liver. And if you can’t stomach just cooking up a liver itself, get some liverwurst. Liver pudding (livermush if you’re from North Carolina) is also good, but less liver-to-filler ratio.

Unfortunately, thanks to modern food processing techniques, etc., it really is much harder to get a good diet compared with what our grandparents faced. We do have to pay more attention to what we eat. And home-baked bread sounds great, but what kind of flour should you use? Besides, my wife says it’s a lot of work to make; she hasn’t made a loaf since she got a job.

But, hey, I’ve lost 20 lbs this year without even intending to. I think it’s working for me. ;-) Now if I could just remember that the proper response to, “Have you been losing weight?” is not, “Yes, thanks, to my wife’s cooking!”

3 Keith January 2, 2009 at 6:28 am

Barney, the old codger who lived up the hill (mountain) in North Carolina lived to the ripe old age of 106. Seriously, he followed almost every part of the above advice. He never got cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. He lived until he died from being old.

Every morning he got up, ate his 3 eggs 2 sausage links, 3 pancakes and milk and walked 5 miles to work with his sandwich lunch in a bag.

One thing I have yet to figure out though: what did these people eat with a sandwich? An apple? Chips just seem like the natural supplement to me.

4 Chad January 2, 2009 at 7:43 am

Great article. I recently adopted a program similar to this in July, and I’ve lost about 30 pounds so far.

I turned in my car for a 10 speed bike and started doing my commute to work on that. 7 miles each way, it’s a great way to start my day. If you don’t live in a climate ideal for this like me, it may have to be a summer only thing. I have alot more energy at work now and my days seem to fly by.

I also worked on portion control, which is probably the hardest thing to do since your stomach is used to being SO big from larger portions. For the first week it was as if I seemed to always be hungry and took all of my willpower not to snack up, but after about 7-10 days smaller portions filled me up and kept me full.

I think one thing this article is missing is the importance of drinking water. I drink just under a gallon a day on average. It’s all I drink now and I honestly don’t miss the soda/pops and other sugary drinks that I used to slam at all.

5 toddes January 2, 2009 at 8:01 am

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that Grandpa’s meat came straight from the butcher and his milk from the dairy. Today, sausage and bacon sit in the store’s refrigerated displays and the cattle are feed corn to fatten and growth hormone to make them mature quicker. They are then shipped in from who-knows-where. The milk is pausterized, killing both the harmful and beneficial bacteria and modifying the milk’s enzymatic activity.

While eating as close to nature as possible is an excellent idea, care must be taken in noting where the food has come from and what it has been raised on. Eat grass-fed meats and drink raw milk in order to see the greatest benefits from both.

6 Brett January 2, 2009 at 8:11 am


That’s a good point. My grandpa’s meat often came from wild game he hunted and killed himself. He’d shoot a giant elk and then feast on it for months on end.

7 Derek January 2, 2009 at 8:25 am

This truly is the way to go. I’m glad the low-fat craze has finally died out. My grandpa eats three square meals a day and has eaten eggs, bacon, whole milk, and stuff like meatloaf every day and he’s now 96 and has hardly been sick a day in his life.

8 Adam January 2, 2009 at 9:48 am

I was afraid of this article, but it’s the truth haha. Often when I’m giving someone diet advice to go with one of my training regimens, I tell them the blanket statement “If your great grandma wouldn’t recognize it as food, don’t eat it!” It allows them to grab rice and natural pastas in simple packaging, but keeps them away from candies, cookies, and super-processed items like GoGurt!

A lot of older men also hunted or fished for a food source. I love to keep this tradition alive today. There’s definitely a great sense of accomplishment with putting food on your own table just like people have done for thousands of years (although with much better equipment ;) ) and natural game foods have a much better fatty acid profile than their corn-fed counterparts.

9 NZR (the Plainsman) January 2, 2009 at 10:12 am

This simply makes sense. This is easy.

10 David at Animal-Kingdom-Workouts January 2, 2009 at 10:30 am

I couldn’t agree more with this article. The closer you can eat your food in its natural state, the better. Jack Lalanne once said “If man touches it, don’t eat it”. I think he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to proper diet and fitness!

- Dave

11 Michael January 2, 2009 at 10:39 am

I’ve found that giving up pop does a lot for your health. Whether or not high fructose corn syrup is good or bad for you, or whether that stuff that put in diet drinks is better or not is irrelevant if you just don’t drink the stuff. I find it discomforting that American society will guzzle something down, knowing it’s bad, but because it can’t be 100% proven it’s really bad for you they don’t mind. I just give it the benefit of the doubt (or detriment of the doubt I guess) and drink tea, coffee, water, natural juice, etc.

When I do have a soda craving, it’s not too hard to find some sweetened with cane sugar. Sure it’s not really healthy for you, but it’s a lot better than the artificial stuff in the mainstream stuff.

Crucial to understanding the diet you eat is something I think a lot of people today forget: your body is designed to filter out a good deal of toxins and other unpleasant substances. Drinking a soda, eating some potato chips, or even a Big Mac every once in awhile isn’t going to substantially hurt you. Eating hamburgers, potato chips and soda for breakfast, lunch, and dinner will hurt you.

12 Richard Williams January 2, 2009 at 2:26 pm

An excellent post and so true! I’m 5’11″ and my “normal” weight is about 150-155 lbs. Every now and then (I’m in the “now” at the moment), my weight creeps up to 175, gathering around my neck and gut – ugly! I can drop 15-20 lbs in 30 days by simply eating lots of protein and veggies and laying off the sugar and breads and processed foods and walking 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week.

Its amazing how complicated modern society has made eating and dieting. As always, love your blog!

13 Pete January 2, 2009 at 2:32 pm

But Grandma probably got up and fixed Grandpa his breakfast, made him a lunch, and stayed at home to have dinner ready on the table when Grandpa came in at night. This is some nice food for thought [pun intended], but Grandpa’s living environment was drastically different than this day and age with both adults working.

The point stands, though, that eating healthy and naturally as much as you can goes hand in hand.

14 KamatariSeta January 2, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Yeah, as others have pointed out, our grandparents and great grandparents lived VERY differently than we did, with a good deal of them doing physical labor of one sort or another, so they could work all the bad stuff off and out without having to set aside time for the gym.

I cut out Soda, McDonalds, etc. from my diet when I was still in high school and haven’t looked back since. These days if I even try to sip a bit of soda, it tastes awful to me.

15 pholland167 January 2, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Good advice, but not that accurate. While YOUR grandfather may have at protein at every meal, this is a very modern idea. In fact, until the heavy promotion of the beef industry following the civil war and it’s connection to the settling of the west, most Americans didn’t eat near that much protein, and when they did it was often pork. The standard American diet of today has never been replicated in history, as the availability of this much meat in a society necessitates a gigantic supply of food for these animals to eat and (poorly) convert into protein. This supply of food didn’t exist until synthetic fertilizers became easily available, and corn became standardized and mass produced (for a good primer, read Omnivore’s Delimma). While it is true that the saturated fat myth has largely been disproven, the link between excess protein consumption and cancer is still generally accepted. So while eating a lot of meat is less likely to make you fat, it is still likely to cause cancer. Understand that I don’t disagree with your suggestions, just want to point out that they are based largely upon the experience of your grandfathers (anecdotal evidence) which carries little to no weight. I too am a meat eater who loves a good steak and is a little overweight, but I don’t have a car and walk to nearly everywhere I go, so it helps. I think the suggestion that you only eat what your grandpa would recognize as food is a great one, and makes your life easier since you won’t have to spend so much time deciding on the hungry man chicken fried steak vs. the hungry man lasagna.

16 Neptúnus Hirt January 2, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Whole proteins aren’t the only source of a hearty amount of protein, I get all the amino acids I need from plants. I’m a vegan, which I understand that most people from Western cultures don’t foresee giving a chance any time (killing is manly, right?But that’s a debate for another day), and I suffer no nutritional deficiencies. When I do more physical exercise I tend to get more bulky (haven’t done it in a while, but I’m starting again soon. It’s so good), and when I don’t I’m a bit skinny but in good shape.
The real trick to eating is simply moderation, as you mentioned. Moderation in everything. I eat chocolate every now and then. I eat until I’m full at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Most of the meals I eat are home-cooked, too (except sometimes I get a bit lazy and eat canned beans, or something similar). Vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, it doesn’t matter as long as one eats in moderation. It’s so simple, I sometimes find myself wondering how people can get outrageously out of shape. But of course, social conditioning is a powerful thing. Moderation, that’s the key. I would recommend for omnivores to eat grass-fed animals that are not abused for their entire lives, and not eat them every day of the week.

I’m half asleep. I’m not sure where I’m going with this little rambling of mine, so I’ll end it abruptly now to sleep. Oh yes.

17 Rodney Hampton January 2, 2009 at 4:06 pm

You should take a look at the abridged copy of De Tocqueville’s Democracy in America written in the 1830s. I seem to recall he commented on the extensive selection of meats available at every meal.

18 Dianna January 2, 2009 at 5:09 pm

De Tocqueville wasn’t the only European in the early 1800′s commenting on the size of American meals. Many travel writers (yes they had them back then) commented on the huge variety of meats and veggies available for the average person regardless of their economic level.

19 A.T. Nelson January 2, 2009 at 7:43 pm

I see a lot of commercials and ads that seem to suggest that a real man eats huge Porterhouses all the time, and that salads are food either for women or rabbits. That’s nonsense. A man appreciates all kinds of food and eats a balanced diet. And a man recognizes that it’s important to be mindful of how your food affects your body as well as your community. So, look for local food (which supports small farmers instead of agribusinessmen), eat organic if and when you can afford it (especially things like potatoes, which absorb more pesticides than other plants), and get familiar with local farmers and their practices (which you can do easily by talking to them at your local farmers market).

Meat is great (and you are indeed right in liking it) but meat from animals raised on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) is not only harmful to we who consume it, since the animals are treated with hormones and antibiotics, but is also extremely detrimental to the local environment because of the concentration of animal wastes and the amount of grain required to keep the animals fed.

Nevertheless, meat is still great and I don’t want to give it up, especially since protein is so important. So I’ve resolved to cut down the amount of protein I get from meat to the point where I can afford to buy meat that has been sustainably raised. (Protein can also be found in food like beans and yes, tofu, even though Grandpa may not be able to recognize it). Sustainably-raised meat is more expensive, it’s true, but it is a better representation of the things I believe in, better for my health and, I think, better tasting.

20 A Whole Lot of Bad Information In This Article January 3, 2009 at 2:49 am

Eat bacon? Are you serious?
I’m questioning whether I should even read any more of the posts on this website.

Eat a balanced diet — high on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, as well as calcium sources like milk (soy provides a lot of amino acids) and exercise.

It’s simple physics: more energy consumed than expended => store more fat. This is a solved problem. Let’s get on to something more interesting.

21 Keith January 3, 2009 at 11:45 am

Great article and too true. Wise up, men.

22 beggingtodiffer January 3, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Regarding above comment re: tofu/soy,

Soy is said to have within it a substance that mimics estrogen, which may have a hormonal impact on the body. Taking any form of hormone on top of whatever the body produces is unwise, either from a cow injected with growth inducers or from ones that occur naturally.

I agree with the posters who say the key is moderation/portion control (same thing, really), and the energy intake/output ratio regarding fat storage. That’s really all there is to it.

23 Laurie Beebe January 3, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Great advice: Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, portion control–couldn’t have said it better myself. If people could just figure out how to buckle down and follow these rules they would be in just as good shape as their grandpas were! New year’s is as good a time as any to pick just one of these as a goal and stick with it… go on, just try it :)

24 TTTimo January 3, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Stick to a rice diet. Just look at us Asians, we are so skinny :)

That said, I would think being physically active is the more important of the 2 main points discussed. Even if you only eat right, you would look thin but actually be fat. Soft and flabby, yet not fit (Think the Grinch).

25 Daniel January 4, 2009 at 12:05 am

I would love to see a full AoM article on why being a picky eater is not manly. I swear, Australian men are the pickiest little girls when it comes to food. Eat the salad and the damn lambs fry and shut up.

26 Neptúnus Hirt January 4, 2009 at 4:34 am

@beggingtodiffer regarding soy/tofu:
I’ve eaten soy products in moderation since childhood with no adverse effects. As long as one isn’t gulping down soy milk all day, one should be fine. I believe that most of the estrogen mania concerning soy is mere speculation and/or propaganda. I read one article in which the author claimed soy turned young boys into girls, or half girl/boy hybrids! That’s pretty silly.
Soy isn’t a must have item by any means, but I’m certain that consuming it in moderation is healthy practice.

Or, you know, since pretty much anything can count as unhealthy or cancer-causing these days, I’ll stick with saying: “Pick your poison, but be moderate in your consumption”. ;]

27 Jake January 5, 2009 at 1:52 pm

I think it was Julia Child who said “everything in moderation, even moderation.”

@A Whole Lot of Bad Information In This Article
Bacon is good. No two ways about it. Yes, it has more fat than lean, but it’s probably one of the tastiest (and most traditional) items in the American pantry.

While nobody would recommend eating a pound of bacon at once (though many could if given the opportunity), I don’t know anyone who doesn’t keep Kosher who would turn his nose up at seasoning a pot of beans with it.

On another note, I’m convinced that the current mania for deeming various micro-nutrients or foods ‘cancer causing’ is one of the most damaging tropes in food literature and discourse. We are exposed to radiation in various amounts every day, and nearly everything we ingest has an effect on our bodies at a cellular level. The point is, we’re all going to die from something at some time, so you might as well enjoy your food.

28 Fabian January 5, 2009 at 2:39 pm

First of all, dood post (and great website). However, I don’t think your narrative is entirely accurate.
While it’s true that grandfolks wouldn’t have eaten pre-packaged food stuffed with glutamate and other nasties, it is equally true that they ran a much higher risk of falling ill and dying from the food they ate. Diseases like salmonella, botulism and hepatitis can all be foodborne, not to mention parasites like the infamous trichinella. Modern food technology, combined with sound routines in the kitchen, does a good job of protecting us against these diseases.

29 Elliot January 6, 2009 at 5:23 pm

There is no place like college to “inhale Pop Tarts while dashing out the door.” Good article.

30 CoffeeZombie January 7, 2009 at 6:54 am

@Fabian While it is true that those diseases can be foodborne, I have had a feeling for a long time that their danger is often overblown.

Take salmonella, for instance. Everyone knows you shouldn’t eat undercooked or raw eggs, because of the risk that they might contain salmonella. Restaurants even have to warn you about it now, just in case your sunny-side up order of eggs has you on the crapper all night.

But what is the actual risk that the eggs you are eating are contaminated. I believe the number I’ve heard is that, according to the FDA, 1 in 20,000 eggs contain dangerous bacteria. That seems like a pretty low risk, to me. In addition to this, however, I think it’s probably even less likely if the hen who laid the eggs was healthy. This is one reason my wife and I only buy cage-free eggs (the other is that they really do taste better).

I made my own eggnog this year, using good, raw eggs. Neither I nor anyone else who drank it got sick. In addition, I’ve been eating sunny-side up eggs (a little runny) for years, and have never gotten sick from it. Then again, I used to eat raw cookie dough as a child.

Then again, I like my steaks rare (and I’ve had some red meat raw), I eat sushi (I especially like the raw fish), my eggs are never more than sunny-side-up unless they’re scrambled, I like corned beef, and so on. I have never once (thanks God) gotten food poisoning, at least not that I noticed.

31 Jen January 8, 2009 at 11:59 am

Slight disagreement on the protein thing. Yes, back in the early 20th century meat was commonly put with most things, but they had much smaller portion sizes and better quality meat.

Also, saturated fat being bad for you has not been disproven. The current obesity crisis may indeed be pushed more be refined sugars, but cholesterol is cholesterol. Too much will kill you whether you are fat or thin. Our grandparent’s may have been slimmer than us, but they still died younger so let’s use our knowledge about heart disease and strokes to make us not only as slim as them, but longer lasting.

32 Tom January 9, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Not much to add to what’s already been said, and quite wisely, by the author and commentators.

The food’s changed since grandpa’s day. Meat is different, animals being fed unnatural foods and given hormones for higher production. Bread and cereals and most packaged foods are different, as they’re crammed full of high fructose corn syrup. Most produce and dairy are also altered in some way, or laden with pesticides and unnatural fertilizers.

The plain fact is, the deck’s stacked against us, and it takes some doing to truly eat the way grandpa did.

Makes me want to buy my own farm, or buy into a co-op or something.

Great article.

33 Jake is so wrong January 18, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Bacon is high in salt and high in fat. Some things, in any degree of “moderation” cause nothing but harm. For example, heroin.

34 Bob January 23, 2009 at 7:09 am

I’d just like to talk a second about the diet of my great-grandfather, now age 96.

Like many of the above posts, he can contribute his ongoing health in large part to walking several miles a day.

Being an old Japanese man, real whole protien is of course not limited to the red meat category. A large part of his diet is comprised of every creature from the sea as well as large amounts of tofu. And yes, tofu is real food.

I’m not talking about the stuff pressed into meat-esque shapes but real honest to goodness natural tofu. I think that if take a little time to read up on Asian cuisines then you will be greatly rewarded. Remember, Japan has one of the highest life expectancies in the world.

Just as a matter of perspective, I’m not suggesting total meat replacment. its just another option that worked for my great grandfather.

35 Greg January 28, 2009 at 2:00 pm

In one of the books my girlfriend read, it said something to the effect of, “If you don’t recognize the ingredients, it’s not food, it’s entertainment.” The thing to remember is that our grandparents worked on farms and in industry, not sitting in front of computers, and could burn those calories. In order to make up for this and still eat the diet above, you just need to get out and exercise regularly. Additionally, our grandparents didn’t intentionally practice portion control – it’s just what they could afford.

36 MaartenMac January 30, 2009 at 2:17 am

Online diet meal plans are a great way to introduce accountability into your diet. One of the primary reasons why most diets fail is because they either lack structure, they lack flexibility, or they lack both. The ideal diet for weight loss would have both structure and flexibility simultaneously factored into it.

37 DR February 6, 2009 at 4:15 pm

You mean they ate “real” food???

That’s might just be crazy enough to work.

38 Julio Iglesias March 2, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Before getting totally taken in by the nostalgia, note the gigantic portion of meat on the man in the photograph’s plate. And be really careful about all that bacon and meat (belive me, I love it too) – it had better be the leanest you can find. Besides increases in medical technology and disease prevention, we’re on average living a lot longer now because of positive changes in diet – be careful to separate the science from the nostalgia.

39 Patrick Kalakpeh-Mesahn, Sr. March 11, 2009 at 2:52 am

I am getting fat, weak in the body, difficult breathing and lazy in other home activities.

I need a diet for a healthy happy long life. What can I do to meet my desire?



40 Mike OD - LifeSpotlight March 29, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Nice! Real men eat meat and fat….not soy. As one of the top strength coaches Charles Poliquin says “Only dorks eat egg whites”.

Quality and sources of all food is important too….health cow = healthy meat…..sick cow = sick you!

People still harping the oldest myth in the book about “meat and fat are evil, give you heart disease and cancers”….need to find out the truth on their own and stop just repeating what they read in USA Today.

41 Anne May 1, 2009 at 6:25 pm

“Protein” in most culture means grains-and-legumes. It’s not a male- female thing (protein manly, salad for female wimps). In Mexico, rice and beans. In Japan, rice and tofu. In India, lentils and rice.

Meat -eating is cruel.

And don’t forget the life expectancy in 1945 was about 62 years old. A lot of that was the diet you are recommending (bacon, pork, steaks, etc.)

I know. My grandparents stopped up their arteries with their diets.

Have a heart and eat like the rest of the planet (see paragraph #1).

42 Kyle June 16, 2009 at 4:43 am

While I do agree that people ate all the things they tell you not to eat today and were generally healthy doing it, it’s clear that science has also advanced light years ahead of where it was “back in the day”.

It’s a fact that eating every 3 hours or so is much easier on the body and most importantly to your digestive system. 5-6 small portioned healthy meals each day is infinitely more healthy than the standard 3 meals a day of anything.

It’s simple really.

Eat healthy, often.
Exercise your body often.
Exercise your mind often.

Great site by the way.

43 annai July 22, 2009 at 8:58 am

it is such a wonderful blog…thanks for providing this useful information ..

professional health coach

44 Clinton Walker III July 28, 2009 at 12:35 am

This is an interesting blog. Sometimes even science can’t explain wisdom.

45 Sam August 30, 2009 at 3:01 pm

I eat bacon all the time and the daily percentage of fats in my diet always remains in the 20-30% category that most nutritionists recommend. The oldest woman in the world (age 106 I believe) said one of her favorite foods was “greasy bacon.”

If you’re limiting it to one serving, and it’s not something you eat every single day, I see no problem with it. Your body will tell you what foods are best, all you have to do is compliment that with a healthy dose of manly exercises and you’re good to go.

46 Steve September 17, 2009 at 11:57 am

“Bacon is high in salt and high in fat. Some things, in any degree of “moderation” cause nothing but harm. For example, heroin.”

(A) Comparing bacon to heroin is just fanatical.
(B) Or maybe not, as even opiates can be good in moderation. They’ve been used for centuries for their painkilling/medicinal values. Have you ever had codeine cough syrup? In fact most legal and illegal narcotics can be beneficial in moderation and when used for proper purposes. Marijuana for pain and relief from nausea. Ecstasy has been used to help struggling couples. Even cocaine, if used moderately, is a great hangover cure; the reason it was originally put in Coca Cola. I could go on, but you get the idea. Moderation is key.

47 adam December 22, 2009 at 4:58 pm

Bacon is bacon is bacon. In moderation. Let’s not think that just being “nostalgic” and asking myself “what would grandpa do” is not always the answer. Yes, some people in the past died old on that method…this could be genetic. A lot of people in my family died in the South at young ages due to heart disease…and trust me they worked on the farm. Guess what their morning diet was? Eggs, bacon and lard biscuits…..Moderation.

48 T.B. January 26, 2010 at 1:00 pm

My grandfather ate the same breakfast every morning (at exactly 6 a.m.), with slight variations. Sometimes it was Farina instead of “porridge.” Sometimes it was tea instead of Postum. Eggs, meat, toast and butter. Then he’d sit and digest, look at the birds in the feeder, then work in his huge garden till noon. Eat. Hour-long nap, or just sit in “his” chair daydreaming. Then more work in the garden. Dinner at 6. He needed all those calories, working on his hands and knees all day. And the fresh vegetables! Yeah, man. I still have some of his Woolrich shirts.

49 Angelia Sparrow February 4, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Mike OD, I’ll remember the egg-white crack when you want a meringue pie. 8)

Vegetables and whole grains, reasonable amounts of protein. It’s all very sensible. Im doing Weight Watchers and that’s basically the same advice.

My grandparents had a huge garden and while I didn’t like everything that came out of it, we all ate it. My grandmother was a bank-teller and my grandfather drove a rural mail route, doing less physical labor on the job than I do. At home was another story. They had a 5 acre place with garden, chickens, goats/cows/horses (at various times), gooseberry bushes and a small orchard. I have a suburban lot with a single apple tree and about 50 sq. feet of garden. They farmed. I write novels.

“Don’t eat anything Grandpa wouldn’t know was food?” My grandfather ate C-rations. His definition of food was VERY flexible.

50 Seth February 5, 2010 at 5:01 pm

What a great article. This is exactly how we enjoy food in my family. Fresh, healthy ingredients and appropriate portions, plus moderate exercise, will maintain a trim physique. There’s nothing like a grilled steak, roasted potatos, and a pint of Guinness. Eat until you’re satisfied.

51 Harry July 7, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Older people are much more to be healthier because I think mainly of the food. Back then food are healthier, they tend to eat minimal canned goods as compared to now.

52 Miguel April 8, 2014 at 4:58 pm

What flour did they use back then?

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