What My Grandmother Ate: The Importance of Diet

I've been thinking alot lately about how my grandmother ate and why she was never sick, ever.

I lived with my grandmother from about age ten till she passed away when I was about 23 or so. During all that time, she never got a cold and she never got a flu. It was incredibly rare for my grandmother to ever not feel well. She had the energy and stamina of twenty people.

How did she eat? This is so key. She NEVER ate packaged, processed or frozen foods. And I mean NEVER. My grandmother would look at the boxes of junk we'd bring home and she would make a big deal out of it and say it was full of chemicals and she would never touch it. She used to tell us to toss it all in the garbage can. And we would always think she was nuts. Well, she was the healthy one and me and my mother would get sick often.

My grandmother made her own noodles from scratch. I'd watch her make them with flour and water and egg and her rolling pin. She would either use them for a homemade chicken soup that was also made from scratch or she would make the noodles with cottage cheese. She was fond of cheese, not the weird concoctions of today, but the full fat kind.

My grandmother drank whole milk, often. She ate only pure sour cream, used only butter. She wouldn't touch margarine. She said it was evil.

She would buy large bags of imported sticky white rice from Japan, and then she would make it with pure butter and salt.

Everything she cooked was without any chemicals. She would buy fresh meat or fish and make a dish from scratch with fresh veggies. She never ate canned fruits, she only ate fresh fruit. She even made her own jellies once in awhile.

The only time my grandmother ever deviated from her diet was if someone took her out to dinner or we brought some food in that she was willing to try. But that wasn't often. She wouldn't even drink soda other than ginger ale and that had to be the full sugar one, she wouldn't touch diet. And I don't think she ever had aspartame in her life. She only used real sugar.

So while my grandmother was eating a basically chemically free diet, me and my mother were eating take out, fast food, processed food, canned and boxed food. And we were the ones getting flues and getting sick and having alot of rounds of never feeling good. But my grandmother had energy, she was never in pain, she did tons of things all the time.

What eventually got my grandmother was a form of cancer. She came down with some kind of spinal and stomach cancer. We never knew if it was a genetic thing or not. If she hadn't gotten cancer, she probably would have lived alot longer. But prior to her getting cancer, she was healthy. And she ate whole fat foods her whole life and was never fat, ever. That used to drive me nuts. She'd eat ice cream, that was her one indulgence. All that butter and sour cream and regular cream and whole milk and she was never fat a day in her life. Maybe she just worked it off doing stuff, I don't know.

But the point I'm trying to make is, that diet of pure foods kept her well for most of her life up into her eighties. Maybe if we had payed attention to her and what she was eating, it would have helped us and we wouldn't have gotten sick.


I am a great advocate of organic fresh fruit, vegetables, meat & (now) organic salmon is available from my local fishmonger, & dislike the taste of commercial fresh foods from the supermarket.

But it comes at a high price in the inner city where we do not have our own gardens.

I grew up in a household where my Mother grew nearly everything we ate. And the summer excess was bottled for the winter, or preserved as chutneys & sauces. My parents, in their mid '80's,still grow most of their vegetables & herbs in the tiny backyard of their retirement unit.

My Mother grew up on a dairy farm where everything was home grown. My maternal Grandparents had freshly churned butter, fresh cream & buttermilk from their cows, & meat was from the sheep & pigs they raised themselves, so my philosophy on eating today, has roots in my childhood.

I wonder why so many people eat processed food - I guess it's all about available time outside working hours & this techological age we all belong to.

People have lost the interest & skills involved in growing food, making clothes or living a simple life. They want to earn big bucks to buy the latest & best technology.

And in some cases, they're willing to forego health & wellbeing to obtain it (modern technology).

But then society puts pressure on us to keep up with the latest technology.

There are few jobs in cities that don't nvolve computers in some way. (I believe per capita, Australians are the biggest mobile phone users in the world. Are you surprised? I'm not. When I walk along the main shopping streets in Melbourne, nearly every second person has a mobile phone jammed to their ear).

If you can possibly afford organic, fresh food & have access to fresh food markets, I highly recommend it.

It has made, & continues to make, a big difference to my own health

I have been drinking fresh, filtered water & organic herbal teas for many years now too.

(That's not to say I didn't eat lots of little chocolate Easter eggs this year :D).
Isn't it sad that we have gotten away from pure foods. Our society and the generation are a microwave one. Fast food, junk food, nothing fresh or real. Our technology and advancement came at too high a price.
Carrigon;bt1578 said:
Isn't it sad that we have gotten away from pure foods. Our society and the generation are a microwave one. Fast food, junk food, nothing fresh or real. Our technology and advancement came at too high a price.
Yes, it is very sad, as many have become junk food junkies and are/will pay a high price for this with their health. If one follows the cancer rates, say from the late 1800's up to the present, it is astounding to say the least. Surely diet and environmental toxins play a significant role in cancer. Yet, we are always urged to contriubute to the cure! How about some common sense in all of this. Until we stop polluting our environment and our bodies with unnatural foods, which then become toxins, how can all the medicine in the work stop cancer?
I read a great book that advocates eating just as your grandmother did. It was written by Sally Fallon and is called "Eat Fat, Lose Fat." Ms. Fallon is also the author of "Nourishing Traditions," which is a fact-filled cookbook with recipes of how to make any traditional (our grandmother's diet) food (butter, sour cream, included).

I whole-heartedly agree with this approach to eating. However, it is very difficult to give up some of our conveniences, and some of our addictions (mine is bread). But when I am able to give these up and eat all fresh/organic foods, I feel better and look better.
When I was a freshman in college, I ate pizza, hoagies and no veggies ever. I ate horribly. Ironically, that is when I got sick. For 6 years I ate like that while being sick until a lightbulb went off. I started making my self eat veggies and salads. I had never had a salad until age 26. I eat them religiously now. Have you seen Food Inc? It is so good and talks about everything you just wrote.

People eat twinkies and twinkies can last for years due to all of the chemicals. And corn starch is one of the worst additives to food. Anyway, I wonder if I would have been as sick if I hadn't eaten so poorly all of those years. It couldn't have helped. Good blog Carrigon!
It's just really sad we are paying with our health for all the modern conveniences. It wouldn't even matter if we did grow all our own food, the soil isn't rich in minerals like it once was. There are all kinds of toxins and chemicals and pesticides in our soil now. And so many people don't realize that the richness of the soil that our food is grown in really does make a huge difference.

I doubt things will get much better in the world. As long as people are determined to keep polluting it, all we can do is try to eat better. But we'll never feel the health from food the way people did over a hundred years ago. I always wonder how much cleaner the air must have smelled back then and what the fruits and veggies must have tasted like from that rich unpolluted soil. Just so sad we've lost that.
@ The Spitfire, my college years were aspartame. Aspartame and microwaved food. I would have a packet of aspartame with a packet of grits or cream of wheat every morning. Then I would wonder, why did I have chronic insomnia through college so bad that I not only had to workout till I was physically exhausted, but I also had to take benadryl every night to get sleep. It never occurred to me that the aspartame was keeping me awake.

Too many microwaved meals, some with melted styrofoam or plastic. Yeah, why am I sick?
Happily, there are some trends of people going back to the old ways of eating. Check out the slow food movement (cooking from scratch), locavores (buying and eating locally grown food), simple living (living frugally so you can get out of the fast paced lifestyle).

I've also noticed groups of people on the net who refuse to eat high fructose corn syrup or genetically modified corn; they exchange info about "safe" food to eat. These are all healthy people who haven't gotten sick yet.

Anyway, I am encouraged by these trends.
Well that's good to know Caledonia. I watched Oprah where there are people called Freegans who pick food out of the trash. At WHOLE FOODS!! I wish I could do it. For those that don't have a lot of money, it might be a good idea. Two doctors were on there doing it. Said that they believed in not wasting food at all. They showed their kitchen and all of the fresh fruits and their refrig was stocked full of healthy, not gone bad food. Hmmmm. Yes, I ate a lot of microwaved food in college or canned soups on a hot plate. Lots of Chef Boyardee.

I love food and I miss it. I miss oranges and tomatoes and wheat. It makes no sense to me how I am allergic to everything now. I mean on an intellectual level it does, but on an emotional level I hate it.

I wish I had a chef to prepare my meals. Dream on!! Nice dream though.
I have a corn allergy, so corn syrup in my food is bad, and it's so hard to avoid. They put it in so many things.

For me, the acid reflux makes me have to avoid lots of foods. I used to be a chocoholic, and now I really can't have any. Massive heartburn if I have it. Spaghetti sauce is also massive heartburn, plus the garlic in it is guaranteed to give me a POTS attack. Pretty much anything I actually like, I can't really eat anymore.

Do you mean spaghetti sauce you've made yourself or from a can?

Also, in Australia, in order to be registered as Organic, your soil is tested & must be chemical free for something like 3 years before you can be certified organic (& I understand there is annual testing thereafter), so here, when I buy organic food I know it is "clean" & chemical free.

It's not just the soil, to be certified organic, it's all about living with nature & the whole cycle of the land & it's surroundings.

I imagine it would be the same in most large western countries. Certainly countries like Sweden have similar regulations to Australia.
Sauce I bought, I don't have the energy to make it fresh.

No soil on this planet is entirely free of pesticides, toxins, chemicals. There are trace amounts in all of it now, everywhere. Just like even healthy people have toxins and chemicals in their blood. We're all poisoned from the times we live in. Doesn't matter if you call it organic, there have been plenty of studies that show trace amounts of stuff still in it. Organic probably has less than regular, but it's still in there. The entire planet is full of toxins now, you can't really get away from it. They leak from planes into the atmosphere, factories pollute the air and soil, it's just plain everywhere. And I didn't even get into what happens with the oceans. You can't get away from it. And one day, when people have sufficiently ruined this world, they will look to ruin another. That seems to be the way of it.
I really hope you're wrong, Carrigon. I hope the human race as a whole has the sense to pull back from the brink, and that we allow this beautiful blue pearl of a world to heal, and to heal us. That's what I'm rooting for. I'm afraid you might be right though, in my dark nights.

I've mostly lived like your grandmother, making my own bread and beer, only buying whole foods, nothing much pre=prepared. Tinned tomatoes, perhaps, peanut butter for sure, but always reading the labels carefully and rejecting artificial anything. I grew most of our fruit and veggies for a while too, and the kids would eat my spinach and kale, but when time pressed me to the greengrocers for my supplies their tastes changed, and like all their friends they then rejected their shop-bought greens.

I don't have food intolerances that I'm aware of, although sugar throws me now. I never did much like sugary foods anyway. I do have something seriously wrong with my brain but I got it despite my diet.

Nevertheless, I hope everyone can eat whole foods, healthy foods. It can only help.
I had a very good diet before I became ill. Very little junk food and I also exercised and led a healthy life.

It's been tempting for people looking at this disease to try and attribute cause to lifestyle issues but in my case I simply do not see this.

When I see my family tree I could trace the early cancers back to earlier ancestors. People have had disease / cancer etc long before we had the modern additives. Although a recent radio program on diet in Victorian cities was fascinating as it documented all the additives (some deadly) added to food even then.

Both my Grandmothers had poor health. My maternal GM and GGM both died young of cancer. There was a history of bad asthma on both sides of my family. My Grandmothers both lived on farms and ate really well. It didn't save them from horrible, young deaths.

They were slim, healthy, well exercised but died. .

The next generation of my family are all dying of cancer now. All were concerned about their health and ate well / exercised and lived well. Some grew their own foods and took supplements. Osteoparosis hits them and cripples them early then cancer finishes them off.

For some families the answer may well be in "lifestyle" but it's going to go well beyond a good, simple diet. We simply do not know yet.
Hi All -
Carrigon - (Copied This From the Web) "Aspartame contains METHANOL, a serious metabolic poison. Your body converts it to formaldehyde (embalming fluid) and formic acid (ant sting poison) both of which attack your central nervous system and every organ of your body."

After my original onset of ME I gained quite a lot of weight due to lack of exercise. I started using Aspartame as a substitute for sugar. I thought I felt bad before starting to use Aspartame, but my health deteriorated drastically over a few weeks. I finally gave up the Aspartame, only because I didn't like the aftertaste, and soon started to return to my 'normal' ME state of health (Still lousy, but hey..., I guess there can be times when feeling 'lousy' is better than feeling 'very lousy :) )
The only change in my diet had been the exclusion of Aspartame. I have no doubt that it was this chemical that caused me so much physical grief.
There are so many things that are wrong now, that we really have to be very tuned in to what we eat. We have the pesticides and herbacides, we have the genetically engineered crops and crops that are picked so green that they never have a chance to produce nutrients. We all are different in what works for us. I have very good friend that has Morgellons disease and quiting aspartame made a huge difference to her even after 6 weeks, but I quit over a year ago and it has made no difference at all. I can't stand the taste of it anymore. Finding a good local farmer is a great thing and then find someone that either does their own canning and freezing and have them fix you enough to last through the winter is extra nice.

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