Friday, May 15, 2009

Retro nutritional advice

Who out there remembers this?

Last week Wordshed featured one of ABC's vintage Saturday-morning PSAs with "Timer," that strange, top-hatted yellow...something that--in the clip Jim posted--taught us how to make "sunshine on a stick" with orange juice. [For a stunningly complete history of "Timer," check out this Toon Tracker page.]

The spot above, though, is the one I hold near, if not so dear, to my heart. As a fat kid, I lived in fear that other kids would sing it to me. I don't think they ever did, but I certainly sing it to myself from time to timer when I catch myself reaching for the Cheez-Its for no good reason. (Which begs the question, is there ever a good reason for Cheez-Its? Probably not.)

To the claims that being "bored or blue" will bring on the Munchies, I'd also add "stressed out" and "angry."

In hindsight, the advice here is pretty on-target; certainly more so than Timer's suggestions elsewhere that we regularly eat a hunk of cheese, or have steak for breakfast. Did the scientific evidence that exercise was one of the most effective anti-depressants exist in the 70s? The recommendations here seem ahead of the curve, for once.

I'd be curious to hear from other folks who grew up in that era about their memories of both school- and media-taught ideas about nutrition. I seem to recall some sort of contest in 3rd grade where we all had to keep track of what we ate for breakfast, and the more eggs, bacon, and sausage you ate, the better you did...the idea being that loadin' up on all that protein (and fat) at 6 a.m. was a good thing. And yet, the obesity rate then was much lower, especially among children. Better to eat eggs and bacon than high-fructose-laden cereal and Pop Tarts, I suppose.

[Speaking of breakfast, my partner in blogging and I are off to the land of the "fry up" for a couple weeks...though personally, the very thought of baked beans, broiled tomatoes, and fried bread for breakfast makes me want to puke. See you on our return, faithful readers!]


Erica said...

I've found an old educational film about exercise that I was going to blog about next week sometime. Produced sometime in the 50's or 60's I think, it advocated regular exercising as a cure for various adolescent problems -- shyness, chronic poor health, and excessive stress among them. While it promised a bit much, there was at least slight recognition that regular physical activity helped one relax; not a direct connection to anti-depressant effect, but the basic logic seemed to be in place.

Regarding breakfast choices: I think (and I am *not* a nutritionist, nor do I have especially good eating habits) protein is more likely to give you energy to last through lunchtime, whereas refined carbs will make you run down about halfway through the morning. I don't think fat is much help, though :)

Historiann said...

I remember these videos--more the Time for Timer ones (Why? What does "Time for Timer" mean?) The breakfast one isn't bad advice--it's telling kids that they should eat something, even if it's not a perfectly balanced nutritious breakfast. (I agree with Erica that a chicken leg or slice of cheese will probably stick around longer than a bowl of fruit loops.)

I didn't grow up in a particularly nutrition-conscious household. We didn't eat sugary kids' cereals, mostly because of cost. (We were free to dump all the sugar we wanted on corn flakes or rice krispies!) White bread and grape jelly sandwiches, a bag of chips, and a Little Debbie was a typical packed lunch for me (with a Thermos of Kool-Aid). My lunches were probably healthier than most kids, of whom I was envious because they got to have the TWO snowballs or TWO twinkies that came in a package, whereas I had to split mine with my brother.

What I remember about my childhood--despite the prodigious amounts of refined white sugar and white flour I consumed--was that I played outside all day long most every day during the summer, and frequently after school during the school year. The parents I know now would probably look at a diet like mine as a kid as justification for a Child Welfare investigation. But I think it mattered less then, because we were so active outside.

Have a great trip! Come back with lots of pictures and funny stories to share here.

Christy said...

I loved Timer ('and a peanut-butter sandwich any time of day's a treat'). But I also loved, and continue to love, Cheez-Its, so maybe my judgement is not the best on this issue.

My mother was a nutritionist, and the things she used to bring home as alternative snacks boggle the mind: fruit roll-ups and banana shakes, sure. But there was also something called a Tiger's Milk bar -- so loaded with saturated fats and carob (egads; there's just no logic to justify carob) that I can't believe we didn't keel over from heart disease on the spot.

One of my fondest memories is a tv show called Mulligan Stew, where the kids sang a song about nutrition called 4-4-3-2. This was the number of servings you were supposed to have of the various food groups (probably fruit/veg, dairy, bread, and meat . . . in that order). It stuck with me, though, and I think that while our principles have changed a bit, the whole mantra protected me against ridiculous myths like those surrounding the Atkins diet: sure, load up on pounds and pounds of meat and nothing else; just be sure to consume a gas tank full of water everyday (so you don't keel over from heart disease on the spot!)


Thanks for these most excellent memories. Hope you're enjoying your trip!