What Did Grandma Teach You About Food?


General Rules for Feeding Children, circa 1922 (Mrs. Fryer’s Loose Leaf Cook Book)

1.  Meals should be given at regular times.

2.  No “nibbling” between meals. If a child is really  hungry, a slice of bread and butter will satisfy the craving for food. Never give candy at such times. It will not only spoil the normal appetite , but will encourage a bad habit. Oftentimes a glass of water, and not food, is what the little one really craves.

3.  Teach the child to drink plenty of water between meals–several glasses a day.

4.  Happiness while eating is essential to good digestion.

5.  Do not force a child to eat. If after a day or two the appetite does not return, consult a physician

6.  Teach a child to wash face and hands before eating. Explain that dirt is dangerous. Explain that flies are dangerous.

     Teach a child to demand fresh air and sunshine, for they are the great cleansers of nature.

7.  Children may generally be taught to like all kinds of foods that are good for them. By giving a little of a new food at first, the taste can be cultivated.


About fifty or sixty years ago, North Americans seem to have strayed away from rules like these for children, let alone adults. You will still see rules like these being applied in some European countries. But even they, too, are starting to fall little by little to The Kingdom of Snack. It is a hard thing to battle the advertising force that are the snacking, junk food, fast food industries and the food ideas promoted by tv and movies (emotional eating, food as rewards, food as escapes from boredom). But, it can be done. I remember rules I was taught by my elders for healthiness. I was always told that if I must eat between meals, I must eat something from the fruit bowl or the garden. One can of pop was all we were allowed per week when I was growing up. Too much bread or potatoes will expand your waist.  Never EVER eat while grocery shopping. Can you tell me some of the food rules your elders taught you when you were young? Did they stick?

Categories: Food History, Old School Health, Rethinking Food | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “What Did Grandma Teach You About Food?

  1. I always wondered about those people who eat while grocery shopping. They kind of gross me out, actually. (Other than the samples.)

    We had one rule: Never complain about what’s being served. You don’t have to eat it, but you can’t say you don’t like it (at least not at the time–you can speak of food preferences generally at other times). I think it’s a pretty good rule, actually, and it still jars me severely to have someone say they don’t like a certain thing while sitting there at dinner with them. “No, thank you” will suffice. No need to say, “No–I hate cilantro and I can see it in there!”

    • yesteryum

      I mentioned your rule to my other half and he whole-heartedly agreed. He said that you were expected to eat what was in front of you without complaint at his grandma’s. Of course, he said, he and some of his cousins rejected a dish outright but it was considered very bad form at Mamie’s table. You HAD to try it to be polite. And, he continued, when you’re a guest outside the family you’re expected to eat without complaint, even if you didn’t like a certain dish.

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