My (very slimming) week as a 50s housewife. Amanda Cable loses weight and finds inner peace.
By Amanda Cable
Last updated at 11:40 AM on 12th April 2011
Scientists say Fifties housewives consumed far fewer calories and were much fitter and healthier than modern women.
We asked writer Amanda Cable to spend five days as a housewife in still-rationed 1953 and keep a diary.
My day begins at 7am with a bloodcurdling scream. My children have discovered I have confiscated their phones and gadgets. They storm into my room but stop dead at the sight of me in a tight-waisted cotton dress, and applying full make-up and red lipstick.
Back in the Fifties, few households had a car. So it will mean a bus ride and a 15-minute each-way walk to Charlie and Archie’s primary school, two miles from our house.
Women in 1953 consumed just 1,818 calories a day, but their busy lives helped them burn off 1,000 calories. Today’s women consume 2,178 calories and burn off just 556.
As a result, obesity 60 years ago was a rare thing — something I remind myself as I carry two swimming bags and a bassoon to the bus.
Normally, my drive to school takes just five minutes. Today the return journey takes more than an hour.
I usually like to relax when back from the school run by reading a bit of online news. But computers are banned, and I’ve no time to waste.
In my hand is a 1950s Good Housekeeping plan of work for ‘a small servantless house’, and what an unforgiving tome it is. Each task is illustrated by a cartoon Fifties housewife effortlessly completing her duties. Within minutes I am red-faced, perspiring and wheezing.
I have just time to eat a boiled egg for lunch, before setting off once more on foot, this time to the shops. In 1953, less than one in ten households owned a fridge, so I have to buy the ingredients fresh each day.
I walk ten minutes into Blackheath village to buy meat from the butchers, fruit from the grocers and milk. There’s only time left to walk swiftly home before I catch the bus once more to pick up the twins.
Normally, when the boys get home from school, they immediately switch on the TV. Today, they go and play football outside. For their supper I settle for grilled gammon, topped with pineapple and served with cauliflower.
Ruby looks utterly lost without Facebook or texting. I give her the Crackerjack Book for Girls and to my surprise I later find her deeply engrossed in it.
When Ray gets home from work, there’s no television for us to slump in front of. Instead, with the children asleep, we listen quietly to the radio and talk.
Exhausted, I’m in bed by 9.30pm.