What Nutritionists Thought 100 Years Ago

by Natalie on February 24, 2014


Ever wondered what was known about nutrition over a century ago?

I recently stumbled upon an old book of mine titled “Economical Cooking” by Winifred S Gibbs – dietitian and teacher of cooking (as stated on the book), written in 1912.

This book was passed down to me from a family member, and surprisingly, remains in good condition.

I picked it up to give it a quick thumb-through, but couldn’t put it down! I was really surprised to see that so much of the advice was still relevant today. Even without the talk of double-blind studies, amino acids, fatty acids, phytochemicals, etc… You know, all the nutrition lingo of today.

Sometimes in the crazy nutrition world, things can get so complicated and opinionated its nice to be reminded of a simpler – yet very sensical, past.

Here’s some great tidbits of wisdom I picked up from the book along with a few comments from me. I hope you enjoy!

“We may temporarily overcome “hunger” by eating a quantity of bulky food such as potatoes, when really our bodies have not been fed properly at all.”

“If we let stimulants take the place of food, we use up strength faster than we can make it, as stimulants give only a false strength.”

“In the treatment of disease, most modern physicians consider that proper diet is more important that medicine.” – what the heck happened to this thought over the past century?

“nuts are a very nourishing food, and like cheese contain a large amount of nutriment in small space. Because of this fact it is unwise to eat nuts at the close of a hearty meal. In all cases the pulverizing is necessary, otherwise nuts are difficult of digestion.”

“most people do not realize the advantages of a salad as an every-day article of food. As a matter of fact, a salad should be an ordinary dish served as often as possible rather than an uncommon one.”

“The dry vegetables (beans) contain the largest proportion of strength, but the green vegetables give more tonic to the blood, and if they are used are a safeguard against certain diseases.”

When talking about the function of different food groups:

“Vegetables and fruits, to harden then bones, to purify the blood, and to keep the blood in good order.”

On how to buy milk:

“buy it from a reputable firm, and from whose dairies, bottling plant, shipping depots are freely open to inspection.”

On the definition of nutrition:

“a well-fed person is one whose food contains materials for keeping him warm, for building muscle, for making flesh, for keeping the blood right, for making the bones firm, and in short, for keeping the body in perfect condition”.

More on Milk:

“eminent physicians argue the question “to pasteurize or not to pasteurize”. – interesting that this topic is still be questioned today.

Food Suggestions for the ill:

  • Gruel – watered down hot cereal
  • Beef juice – the juice squeezed out of a cooked steak.
  • Beef tea – like tea but with beef instead of leaves.
  • Brewis – bread crumbs and milk
  • Egg and Orange: juice of one fresh orange mixed with an egg
  • Egg nog (with brandy)
  • Ice cream

Did any of this advice resonate with you?

Until next time,




Marilyn February 25, 2014 at 9:05 am

A very old book, still very good advise!

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