Our ancestors had nutritional deficiencies

Eating habits today and 50 years ago

Germany is fatty - more and more people are overweight. That was not the case 50 years ago. Is it perhaps because we used to eat differently? Dr. Gesa Schönherr, nutritionist and managing director of Dr. Rainer Wild Foundation, Foundation for Healthy Eating in Heidelberg, assesses our eating behavior over the years and the resulting consequences.

"In the sixties it was normal for women to stay at home and take care of the family," said Schönberger. The women had more time to cook than they do today and also needed this time to process the staple foods. In times of food shortages, they had learned to conjure up a meal from practically nothing. Cooking skills during this time were high. "

Today women work too

"The ability to cook has decreased over the years," says the nutritionist. There are several reasons for this. For one thing, a lot of women work today and therefore spend significantly less time in the kitchen - like men. In addition, there is now a huge range of ready-made meals that make cooking unnecessary. "

If you want to know exactly what you are eating, you will generally prefer a meal made from fresh ingredients to a ready-made meal. He or she knows what foods are in the pot. In addition: Fats, salt and sometimes allergy-inducing ingredients such as nuts or milk are often hidden in ready-made meals.

Before: Three meals a day

People used to eat three meals a day. Usually together and at home. The men came home at noon, school ended at noon. The family gathered around the dinner table.

Today, many people take their lunch in the canteen, at work or in a restaurant. "This is due to the fact that labor mobility has increased significantly," explains Schönberger. Very few work so close to home that they can spend their lunch break at home. In addition, there would often be no one around to prepare lunch anyway. The children also eat outside, as school often doesn't end until the afternoon.

Breakfast is the meal that is most often eaten at home. But here, too, there are more and more people who eat their coffee and croissants on the go. It is always good to make time for meals and to eat with other people.

You can see it in the figure of many: The snack culture in Germany has changed significantly. A chocolate bar at the kiosk in the morning, a pizza baguette on hand after work. The calories are quickly consumed and forgotten - and still settle on your hips.

Food has changed - there is more meat today

The food that ends up on the table has changed over the years. The distribution ratio has not stayed the same either. "Compared to today, people used to eat a small piece of meat, some vegetables and a lot of potatoes on Sundays. Today the proportion of meat has increased, but the amount of potatoes has been significantly reduced," says Schönberger. Of course, this development is not recommended. Vegetables are healthier than meat.

Around 1970 the potato consumption per capita and year was 110 kilograms. In 2005, Germans only ate an average of 75 kilograms. Pasta, on the other hand, played a very minor role in the 1960s. At that time people also ate pasta, but more dumplings, spaetzle or Maultaschen - depending on the region. Today pasta is one of the favorite foods of the Germans.

We also eat more fruits and vegetables than before

The consumption of fruit and vegetables has increased over the years, a positive development. "This is because nowadays fruit and vegetables are available all year round," explains Schönberger. We get fruit and vegetables from abroad and the storage conditions have improved a lot from a technical point of view.

One disadvantageous development affects drinking behavior: the consumption of soft drinks, soft drinks and juices has increased significantly. These drinks are often high in calories. This also applies to juices, which actually have a healthy reputation. But it is precisely liquid calories that do not fill you up that lead to obesity. Better: drink water more often.

Health education has improved

Already 50 years ago there were health-educated people. "Since women took their role as housewives seriously, they were already interested in feeding their families properly and healthily," says Schönberger. However, through the media and the Internet, health education is much better and more widespread these days. In addition, there are many new findings in nutritional research.

The fact that more people now know what healthy eating means does not mean that they apply their knowledge.

But the hectic pace and impatience have also increased

"Housework actually means work," says Schönberger. "Many people find standing by the stove every day monotonous and exhausting." That was the case in the past, but nowadays it is easier to avoid working in the kitchen. Fast food restaurants and ready-made products have enormous sales. You don't have to cook, tidy up, or wash up - that is in keeping with the times.

Many people today have a sedentary lifestyle

In addition to our eating habits, another important point has changed over the years: We are moving less and less. Almost every German household owns a car, there are elevators and escalators. We talk on the phone instead of walking to our colleague in the next room. The time we spend in front of the TV and on the internet has increased dramatically.

The lack of exercise, coupled with the possibility of getting to any food imaginable at any time, has meant that Germans are getting fatter. Diet plays an even bigger role: "Normally, increased exercise does not achieve the same level of weight regulation as changed eating habits," explains Schönberger.

Four tips for an easier, healthier life

  • Often cook yourself with fresh ingredients
  • Use less fat and sugar
  • Move more
  • To eat together