The Diet of 1776… a look back

Posted: July 4, 2013 in Healthy Eating
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In honor of my nation’s independence day (sorry UK), I wanted to look back at something historic, yet still relevant to my blog’s typical subject matter. I did some research about how the colonists might have been eating in 1776, and some of what I found was rather thought-provoking. Were they eating healthier than some of the folks we know who live outside of the fitness community? While there is no such thing as a prototypical meal from this era, there are some common threads to be found. You can decide after reading.

Let’s start with breakfast, which had a defined time based on your economic standing. Poorer people usually ate early in the morning, while richer ones ate later in the morning. This sounds innocuous at first, but it actually was rather important, since there was no formal “lunch”. Poorer folks would therefore have to go far longer without eating than their rich counterparts.

The colonists must have believed that it was “5 o’clock somewhere”, because beer was the most popular morning beverage of the time. Some took it immediately after rising. My research yielded that breakfast foods would be bread, cornmeal mush or some type of rudimentary muffin that is nothing like the ones we have today. Milk would accompany many of these offerings (which must’ve tasted lovely after that morning beer was downed beforehand).

“Dinner” was the next meal on the docket for these folks. This was eaten at some point in the afternoon. It was served in two courses, Meat puddings and pies were a commonality during the first course, and cabbage was a common side. Course two was more like modern-day dessert. One could find dried or fresh fruits during this course, or some type “sweet meat”. I still have yet to find out what that is, and I’m probably happy I don’t know.

“Supper” was the final meal of the day for our colonists. Many historians speak about how small this meal was. There is some mention of “sallats”, which has been interpreted to mean “salad”. For some colonists, they would revert back to breakfast food, more coastal citizens could dine on a few oysters or mussels. Beer was once again on the drink menu. “Supper” was eaten very close to bedtime in most households.

So there you have it, a basic review of what people were eating when my country was formed. I hope you enjoyed this one. It’s a bit off the beaten path, but I had fun doing a little research. Did they eat better than some folks now? Leave me a few comments and weigh in! Stay fit and be well!

  1. Very interesting post! They did eat healthier than some people, since it seems like they didn’t eat a lot of carbs or sugars. But those beers first thing in the morning don’t sound the best.

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