Last year I looked up rations for UK citizens during World War 2 out of curiosity.  It is often said that Britons were never healthier, although I’m not sure when we started measuring.  It crossed my mind that it might be an interesting idea to eat the ration for a period.

Although rationing was necessary, research was done when planning it. Dr Elsie Widdowson had been working  Dr Robert McCance for some time, patiently unlocking the energy and nutrient secrets of everyday foodstuffs. Updated, their publication ‘The Chemical Composition of Foods’ is still in use today.

These experts were asked to plan for rationing, and their proposals caused concern – they looked far too meagre.  Along with several colleagues, they lived on the diet for three months, at the end of this, McCance, Widdowson and two colleagues spent a couple of days in January 1940 marching up and down peaks in the English Lake District.

Rationing was never as severe as that tested by the team, but the fortification of bread with added calcium dates from this time.

In 1940s Britain, people were more active (less cars, more walking and cylcing) and lived in colder, draughty houses.  My energy needs are likely to be a bit lower, so I shall have to watch the high GI cabohydrates, but three weeks or four on UK WWII rations could be just the way to kick-start my march back to healthier eating.