10 Reasons Our Grandparents Were Healthier Than Us

10 Reasons Our Grandparents Were Healthier Than Us

Updated: Jun 21, 2024Veronika Larisova

You don't have to look back to the Palaeolithic era to understand how much a modern lifestyle is at odds with what we need to be fit and healthy. In fact, sometimes we can really over complicate what is essentially pretty simple. I thought I'd take a quick look back to a simpler time to reflect on why our grandparents were probably healthier than us.

Breakfast was treated like any other meal

Breakfast cereals weren’t a thing, in fact all that really existed were rolled oats and maybe one or two other plain options, most of which were too expensive to buy regularly. So, a few generations ago it was the norm to eat eggs, vegetables and leftovers, like a little meat or stew, at the breakfast table, or plain oats with full cream milk and maybe a touch of brown sugar (if you were lucky!) in winter.

They drank water, milk, or tea daily – anything else was a treat

These days soft drinks, flavoured milk, cordials, fruit juice and artificially sweetened drinks are everywhere, but in our grandparents' day those weren’t readily available and were quite expensive, so were saved for celebrations only, if ever! This is a really important shift, because anything that enters your body in liquid form is more readily absorbed and has more of an impact, so if you’re basically injecting your body with a liquid shot of sugar ever day, or artificial sweeteners that impact your hormones, that’s not a good thing.

They ate the full-fat version of everything

You need cholesterol in your diet to create hormones and absorb Vitamin D, plus your brain is mostly made of fat, and your metabolism relies on fats to help it signal correctly too. This means cutting fat from your diet altogether can have drastic consequences, particularly for women. But replacing natural fats like those found in butter/ghee, quality meat, oily fish, egg yolk, avocado, nuts/seeds and olive oil, with manmade trans fats like those found in margarines, doughnuts and packaged baked goods, deep fried and processed foods is even more catastrophic, causing inflammation, fat storage and chronic disease. So, go traditional and include a little real fat!

Refined foods and food-like products were hard to find

Packaged food was a rare treat for your grandparents, which meant they were eating mostly real food, not the food-like products that are everywhere these days, created to nurture your tastebuds but not necessarily your health. Baked goods like biscuits, cakes and even bread were made at home, or bought occasionally and rationed to last.

Side note: yes, we make food that comes in a packet, but they're made from real food and do not fit into the highly processed category. Check out the range.

They did LOTS of incidental movement

Our grandparents weren’t glued to computers, most work was manual and walking between places was super common. That means a lot more incidental movement every single day, which really adds up. These days it’s hard to make up for all the time we spend at our desks, but creating a movement culture where you do a lot of gentle movement like walking at lunch and in the evenings, stretching in front of the TV, doing your workouts in the morning, or keeping a skipping rope at work and busting out 100 skips when you start to feel restless, will all add up.

They cooked every single day, and ate in a structured way!

These days we are so busy, and so connected by technology that it’s easy to lean on convenient meals and takeaways. Your grandparents had a pretty solid structure to their day though; get up/eat, work/lunch, home/eat, family time/sleep. Thinking about how to create a little more structure in your day can work wonders – even if it’s just taking time to sit down and eat without distractions, and log off your devices after dinner.

They shopped at the farmers market, the local grocer, or grew their food

This means our grand-P’s ate seasonal foods most of the time – different species of plants and animals depending on the season and availability. This is important because food is not just fuel, it’s information – and your body needs all sorts of information to build its immune system up and keep you happy, healthy, focused and full of energy.

They rarely over-ate, because it wasn’t an option

With bigger families and more mouths to feed, there was no such thing as ‘seconds’.

They ate carbs, and plenty of them...

But they were rice, oats, starchy veggies, and a little homemade bread or pasta and that’s about it! There’s nothing wrong with carbohydrates, in fact they fuel a lot of our basic functions and keep us feeling happy. But too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing and today our carbs are refined to within an inch of their life plus other ingredients we can’t even pronounce! Eating simply in the traditional way always wins.

They probably slept better than you do too

Without smartphones and watches, tablets, laptops, Netflix, giant TVs and emails pinging you constantly, when the lights went down, our grandparents probably went to bed and got a good, deep sleep! Now, we LOVE technology and believe it can enhance your lifestyle and productivity if used in the right way, but browsing social media until 11 pm isn’t one of them. Without adequate sleep, your body can’t make all the hormones it needs to fire up your metabolism and keep your system humming.


Libby Babet
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