By Susan A.J. Lyttek
One of the treasures my grandmother passed down to me is an old book entitled the Manual of Child Development. Published in 1927, it is an extensive—over 800 pages—and lengthy compilation of many books and articles that had been published previously on the subject of children. While some tidbits may seem strange or even blatantly false based on our current knowledge and research, it is amazing that nearly ninety years ago (or more for some of the book’s inclusions), they already knew much of what we are relearning today, including the topic of nutrition facts for kids.
Nutrition Facts For Kids, Then and Now
Each chapter of the book runs from thirty to fifty pages and is full of information, research, suggestions, and advice. Much of it is useful for the home that wants to live more simply, off-the-grid, or to establish a self-sufficient homestead. This time, we will look at the chapter on advice and nutrition facts for kids.
The Odd, Untrue, or No Longer Valid
Our current knowledge says these pointers and nutrition facts for kids no longer apply. However, additional research and scientific testing could always reconfirm any one of these.
- Seven-month old babies should have strained fruit juice once a day for good health.
- Eating eggs—hard-boiled or hard cooked—is not good for the digestion and the stomach can’t cope with either. Eggs should be served soft.
- Meals should be at the exact same times every day.
- Fruit and milk should not be consumed within the same half hour. This is especially dangerous for toddlers.
- Egg lemonade, or raw eggs beaten with sugar and then added to lemon juice and water is one of the recommended summer drinks. (Maybe back then, or if you know the health of your chickens, but this is not advised with modern commercial eggs.)
- Breakfast requires five courses, lunch/dinner needs eleven courses, and supper needs eight courses for the good health of the family. (True, the luncheon meal should be larger than supper for optimum weight and energy, but such elaborate meals would be too much for a primarily sedentary lifestyle.)
- Melons are very high in water and thus have little nutritive value.
- Jams, jellies, and marmalades are good ways to preserve the nutrients of fruit for winter consumption.
- Children (through 18) should never eat tough meat, smoked meat, pork, veal, fried food, hot breads, pastries, rich desserts, vinegar or pickles, strong spices, unripe fruit, over-ripe fruit, candy between meals, tea, coffee, cider, beer, wine, or sodas. (I think most parents would agree with the no alcohol, but the rest?)
Amazingly Close to Truth Based on the Knowledge They Had
- Foods are divided into six groups: Carbohydrates, Proteids (sic), Fats and Oils, Water, Mineral Matter, and Vitamines (sic). “The real danger lies in always providing too little or too much of some one nutriment.”
- The body averages 60 percent water by weight. (We now say it averages 65 percent water.)
- Fruit and vegetables in season and from sources closer to home will have more taste and nutrition.
- Apples have laxative properties and small amounts of each of the vitamins A, B, and C.
- Drying fruits is a good way to preserve them. However, the articles believed that factories and modern machinery would do a better job of drying than the home cook.
- Denying all sweets will encourage children to want too many of them.
- Sometimes tasty and clear water will hold harmful bacteria. Boiling water will make it safe. (We now know that sometimes that step is not enough and that just getting it to a boil won’t kill everything.)
- Make it really popular to like a particular food and the majority will love it.
- A child’s digestive organs must be trained to accommodate “adult” food gradually, as in working them like a muscle.
- Minerals build up the bones and purify the blood.
Absolutely Accurate Nutrition Facts For Kids Advised in 1927
- Fruit should be thoroughly washed before eating.
- Fruit aids digestion and can be served at every meal.
- Prunes are nutritious and delicious.
- Legumes are cheap source of protein. “Peanut butter also makes a wholesome, delicious filling for sandwiches.”
- If parents set the right example with foods, their children will, too.
- If you want children to like different foods, make sure the new foods they try are of the best quality and preparation.
- Too many highly flavored or sweetened foods will diminish the appetite for anything the body truly needs. (If we had heeded this, many of the artificial flavorings would never have been tolerated.)
- Natural honey has more nutritional value than sugar.
- Co-op buying is a good way to let several neighbors share a bulk price on an item.
- Butter is better than butter substitutes because of naturally occurring vitamins like A. It is also easier to digest than substitutes.
- The thorough mastication of food helps digestion.
Instructions For The Self-Sufficient Household
In addition to the three levels of detail highlighted above, the book provides many interesting instructions for the self-sufficient household. For instance, according to the text, if you are raising your own chicken for meat, make certain to avoid feeding them for at least a day before the slaughter. Allow plenty of water, but no food. After killing the bird, first pluck the feathers then singe all the fine hairs over a flame. Finally, scrape the skin to get any remaining pieces of quill or feather that the first steps left behind.
The book also gives an excellent lemonade recipe, along with several variations, and a recipe for homemade meat broth.
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 cups water
- 6 lemons, juiced
Heat sugar and water to form a syrup. Chill and then add the lemon juice.
- Berry Lemonade: Add two cups of crushed berries and their juice to the recipe above.
- Juice Lemonade: Add two cups of your favorite juice to the plain lemonade recipe.
- Orange Ade: Make as lemonade, but juice four oranges and two lemons.
- 2 pounds meat with bone, trimmed of fat
- 1 quart water
- 1 tsp salt
Heat meat in water gradually until just shy of the boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for four hours. Remove meat and cool to remove fat. The broth should gelatinize when cold. Vegetables and grains may be added for more flavor and nutrition.
Some Nutritional Advice for Children Never Changes
In addition, the timeless wisdom in one section of the chapter sounds reminiscent of the Book of Proverbs. Training the child from birth will help your offspring have healthy appetites—particularly if they watch you to try to eat well and make good choices. Begin early, be consistent, and set a good example.
I think we can all stand a reminder to live by those principles.
Susan A. J. Lyttek, author of the kids’ comedy, Guzzy Goofball and the Homeschool Play from Outer Space (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) and The Talbott Family Mystery Series by Harbourlight Books, including the recent release, Plundered Christmas, writes early mornings in the shadow of our nation’s capital. She also enjoys training up the next generation of writers online through Write At Home, and by teaching homeschoolers at middle and high school co-op classes.