This latest blog has been prompted by an article I just read on LinkedIn titled Food on our plate: friend or foe.
As a Western developed society we seem to have lost a great deal of the simple stuff that was about in our grandparents days that contributed to us doing more exercise as a part of our daily lives. Most people in Green Hammerton, the village where my Grandma lived, did not have a car or a telephone. My Grandad used to ride to work on his bicycle.
There was the village shop/post office that everyone walked to, they also walking to visit neighbours and kids walked to school – including me when we lived in the village for a few months during the 6 day war period in Jerusalem as Dad decided, the family would all be safer in England while he stayed on in Jerusalem. If we wanted to use the telephone we needed walk to the red public box located near the shop and bus stop whilst remembering to make sure we had sufficient coins for our call. Some years later Grandma did get a nice shiny new telephone in her house – I remember it vividly being green and us having to running to answer the phone, which was located in the hall, if we were all out in the garden – no cordless or mobiles back then.
As a child my grandparents had a large garden that Grandad grew vegetable in, he spent hours digging, weeding and gentle tendering to his crops of potatoes, peas, broad beans, rhubarb, strawberries and lots more. Gardening and fly fishing were Grandad’s passions both physical activities.
We’d take walks up to the farm to see our Aunty Nell, down the country lanes picking blackberries to go into the beautiful pies and jams that Grandma used to make. Yes, we ate lovely hot pies (Grandma’s pastry was the best!) with lashing of fresh cream, toast with real butter and home made jams too. Whilst we did not play organised sports our days were filled with activities that did not allow us to become couch potatoes.
Even the washing was a production as it had to be lifted from the tub and pushed through a mangle to squeeze out the excess water (watch out for fingers!). Eventually the mangle was replaced with a twin tub machine but that still meant lifting from the washing tub into the spin dry compartment. Not like today when we just press one button and it’s all done. The most exercise we get today is hanging our washing on and taking it off the line – although some people even have all in one machines that dry clothes too! Back in Grandma’s day our arms got a work out lifting the heavy, water logged clothes.
Whether I was in England, Singapore, Jerusalem, Rawalpindi, Kashmir or Beirut, as kids we were always active without really thinking about it. In England we would take long walks down country lanes, go on picnics in the Lake District, walks in the Bronte country and more. In Singapore we would play in the garden, roller skate in the park and walk round the markets. Ín Kashmir we swam daily in the lake, walked along the Bund, rode horses in the mountains and went fly fishing. In Rawalpindi we rode bicycles and played in the gardens. In the Middle East we played in the fields behind our houses, played tag and hide n’ seek with kids in the neighbourhood.In the school yard games of hopscotch were daily occurrences. We also walked to the shops, ran up and down the stairs to our classes and to each others dorms.
My point is that all these are physical activities which were built into our daily lives – we did not think about exercise, we just did it unawares and we didn’t really think about food as a friend or foe either – we just ate what we were given.
There’s lot I could add about fast foods, nutrition and more but I’m going to leave it here for now but I would love your feedback on what has disappeared since your Grandma’s days that you feel might be contributing to us becoming physically more unfit and battling with weight.