Did The Victorians Have It Cracked?

Sefton10

Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2019
Messages
56
How the Mid-Victorians Worked, Ate and Died

Long time lurker here and first post. As many of you, I've worked my way through most 'diets' in the quest for health and found the work of Ray Peat following several months of very low carb/carnivore. Inevitably (in hindsight of course) I tanked my metabolism and have been trying to work out those issues in the last year or so (cold hands/feet, low HR, short fuse, low energy, disturbed sleep etc.), essentially the classic hypothyroid symptoms.

With a developing understanding and appreciation of the bioenergetic approach (from hours spent reading these boards, listening to the usual podcasts etc.), I feel I'm gradually working things out. I turned 40 this year and am generally in good shape physically, standing 6' 2" with a decent bit of muscle and otherwise no health issues. Ironically, the best I've ever 'looked' (usual misguided stuff of ripped with a 6 pack) was around a year ago and it is hands down the worst I have ever felt. I now realise it wasn't just the way I was eating but I was chronically overexercising with intense workouts (mostly lifting) too. Combined with the classic low carb and fasting combo, I really did a number on myself and was essentially a stress hormone factory.

Recently, I've learned a lot from reading @CLASH and some of his ideas on upping fat alongside carbs and just getting sufficient protein (I fell into a trap of pounding protein at the expense of energy in the last few years, easily eating 200g+ a day, and lots of that being oily fish). I've been gradually feeling better and becoming more in tune with cause and effect of different foods and this turned a light bulb on for me. Despite upping carbs a lot (300g+ a day), I think I'd subconsciously swapped one problem for another by going too low fat and I came to realise I had a real yearning to simplify and balance was probably where I needed to be.

This led me to start thinking about my direct ancestors (Northern European/Germanic) and what they would have eaten, as well as reading more on traditional diets. I landed on the linked paper outlining the Mid-Victorian diet (1850-1880) and it struck me that this was likely one of the last genuinely 'healthy' diets before hyper-industrialisation and food processing really got going.


Their whole way of eating was actually pretty 'Peaty':
  • Meat on the bone, Offal (brains, heart, sweetbreads, liver, kidneys)
  • Eggs, Beef Dripping, Hard Cheeses, some Milk, Bone broths
  • White fish (Cod, Haddock), Mussels, Oysters, Herring
  • FRUIT/VEG: 8-10 portions per day. Apples, Cherries, Plums, Dried Fruit and Candied Peel, Chestnuts. Onions, Carrots, Turnips.
Mostly everything they consumed was seasonal and locally/organically grown, with genuinely free range animal products. Disease and ill health was pretty much none existent, and they were slim despite eating around 4000+ calories a day (although they were admittedly VERY active).

Anyway, I'm not entirely sure on the point of my post, I just felt inspired to share the article and thought others might find it interesting. My plan moving forward is to go back to basics and base my food choices on the Victorian 'tradition' while incorporating the principles of being pro-metabolic and reducing other causes of stress. I think quite naturally it should hit pretty much all my micronutrient requirements in balance, and should provide a balanced macronutrient split in line with what @CLASH switched me onto, i.e. adequate protein (around 130g), enough carbs for the brain, nervous system etc. (around 300g) and enough fat for digestion, satiety etc. (around 100g).
 

Nebula

Member
Joined
May 30, 2018
Messages
222
Lots of good food to appetite + low intensity movement most of the day + occasional high intensity = good health in my experience. I don’t think it needs to be any more complicated than that. Restoring health can be trickier, but this should maintain good health.

Every time I’ve tried some strict diet it backfires. A roughly equal amount of carbs, fat and adequate protein is usually what I end up eating intuitively too. But I do find that higher fat causes metabolic problems if I am too sedentary, which I don’t enjoy being anyways. A half hour intense exercise most days and a couple miles of walking while eating to complete satisfaction seems like the right balance for me right now.
 

Drareg

Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2016
Messages
2,768
How the Mid-Victorians Worked, Ate and Died

Long time lurker here and first post. As many of you, I've worked my way through most 'diets' in the quest for health and found the work of Ray Peat following several months of very low carb/carnivore. Inevitably (in hindsight of course) I tanked my metabolism and have been trying to work out those issues in the last year or so (cold hands/feet, low HR, short fuse, low energy, disturbed sleep etc.), essentially the classic hypothyroid symptoms.

With a developing understanding and appreciation of the bioenergetic approach (from hours spent reading these boards, listening to the usual podcasts etc.), I feel I'm gradually working things out. I turned 40 this year and am generally in good shape physically, standing 6' 2" with a decent bit of muscle and otherwise no health issues. Ironically, the best I've ever 'looked' (usual misguided stuff of ripped with a 6 pack) was around a year ago and it is hands down the worst I have ever felt. I now realise it wasn't just the way I was eating but I was chronically overexercising with intense workouts (mostly lifting) too. Combined with the classic low carb and fasting combo, I really did a number on myself and was essentially a stress hormone factory.

Recently, I've learned a lot from reading @CLASH and some of his ideas on upping fat alongside carbs and just getting sufficient protein (I fell into a trap of pounding protein at the expense of energy in the last few years, easily eating 200g+ a day, and lots of that being oily fish). I've been gradually feeling better and becoming more in tune with cause and effect of different foods and this turned a light bulb on for me. Despite upping carbs a lot (300g+ a day), I think I'd subconsciously swapped one problem for another by going too low fat and I came to realise I had a real yearning to simplify and balance was probably where I needed to be.

This led me to start thinking about my direct ancestors (Northern European/Germanic) and what they would have eaten, as well as reading more on traditional diets. I landed on the linked paper outlining the Mid-Victorian diet (1850-1880) and it struck me that this was likely one of the last genuinely 'healthy' diets before hyper-industrialisation and food processing really got going.


Their whole way of eating was actually pretty 'Peaty':
  • Meat on the bone, Offal (brains, heart, sweetbreads, liver, kidneys)
  • Eggs, Beef Dripping, Hard Cheeses, some Milk, Bone broths
  • White fish (Cod, Haddock), Mussels, Oysters, Herring
  • FRUIT/VEG: 8-10 portions per day. Apples, Cherries, Plums, Dried Fruit and Candied Peel, Chestnuts. Onions, Carrots, Turnips.
Mostly everything they consumed was seasonal and locally/organically grown, with genuinely free range animal products. Disease and ill health was pretty much none existent, and they were slim despite eating around 4000+ calories a day (although they were admittedly VERY active).

Anyway, I'm not entirely sure on the point of my post, I just felt inspired to share the article and thought others might find it interesting. My plan moving forward is to go back to basics and base my food choices on the Victorian 'tradition' while incorporating the principles of being pro-metabolic and reducing other causes of stress. I think quite naturally it should hit pretty much all my micronutrient requirements in balance, and should provide a balanced macronutrient split in line with what @CLASH switched me onto, i.e. adequate protein (around 130g), enough carbs for the brain, nervous system etc. (around 300g) and enough fat for digestion, satiety etc. (around 100g).

I don’t think the Victorian was an era of exemplary health, they had huge issues with opium , the sanitary conditions were terrible, it caused a cholera outbreak, tuberculosis was rampant.
1 in 5 children died before the age of 5.

The average life expectancy was between 30’s to 48 years old.

The wealthy ruling class would have had it a touch better but not by much, many of them were hooked on opium also.

I think people looked better because their BMI was low from poverty and drugs, generally people look their best with a lower BMI, some crack addicts could be glammed up and look better than someone who is morbidly obese that never touched drugs or alcohol.
 

Sefton10

Member
Thread starter
Joined
Oct 19, 2019
Messages
56
Lots of good food to appetite + low intensity movement most of the day + occasional high intensity = good health in my experience. I don’t think it needs to be any more complicated than that. Restoring health can be trickier, but this should maintain good health.

Every time I’ve tried some strict diet it backfires. A roughly equal amount of carbs, fat and adequate protein is usually what I end up eating intuitively too. But I do find that higher fat causes metabolic problems if I am too sedentary, which I don’t enjoy being anyways. A half hour intense exercise most days and a couple miles of walking while eating to complete satisfaction seems like the right balance for me right now.

I don't think you're far wrong here. Trying to tune back into appetite and eating more intuitively from a baseline of pro-metabolic, high-quality foods makes most sense to me at this point. The question will be whether that is enough in the short/mid term to fix the hypothyroid symptoms. What does your intense exercise tend to look like each day? I was thinking that mini/micro workouts spaced throughout the day might be better for me. Pick 2 0r 3 movements (chin ups, pistol squats, push ups etc.) and do some sets spaced over several hours. That soon mounts up over the course of a week volume wise, yet I'd avoid the potential for going too intense for too long when it's a ring fenced 'workout' (which I'm susceptible to doing). I usually get a good 10-15k steps of walking with the dog each day too.
 

Ashoka

Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2015
Messages
191
How the Mid-Victorians Worked, Ate and Died

Long time lurker here and first post. As many of you, I've worked my way through most 'diets' in the quest for health and found the work of Ray Peat following several months of very low carb/carnivore. Inevitably (in hindsight of course) I tanked my metabolism and have been trying to work out those issues in the last year or so (cold hands/feet, low HR, short fuse, low energy, disturbed sleep etc.), essentially the classic hypothyroid symptoms.

With a developing understanding and appreciation of the bioenergetic approach (from hours spent reading these boards, listening to the usual podcasts etc.), I feel I'm gradually working things out. I turned 40 this year and am generally in good shape physically, standing 6' 2" with a decent bit of muscle and otherwise no health issues. Ironically, the best I've ever 'looked' (usual misguided stuff of ripped with a 6 pack) was around a year ago and it is hands down the worst I have ever felt. I now realise it wasn't just the way I was eating but I was chronically overexercising with intense workouts (mostly lifting) too. Combined with the classic low carb and fasting combo, I really did a number on myself and was essentially a stress hormone factory.

Recently, I've learned a lot from reading @CLASH and some of his ideas on upping fat alongside carbs and just getting sufficient protein (I fell into a trap of pounding protein at the expense of energy in the last few years, easily eating 200g+ a day, and lots of that being oily fish). I've been gradually feeling better and becoming more in tune with cause and effect of different foods and this turned a light bulb on for me. Despite upping carbs a lot (300g+ a day), I think I'd subconsciously swapped one problem for another by going too low fat and I came to realise I had a real yearning to simplify and balance was probably where I needed to be.

This led me to start thinking about my direct ancestors (Northern European/Germanic) and what they would have eaten, as well as reading more on traditional diets. I landed on the linked paper outlining the Mid-Victorian diet (1850-1880) and it struck me that this was likely one of the last genuinely 'healthy' diets before hyper-industrialisation and food processing really got going.


Their whole way of eating was actually pretty 'Peaty':
  • Meat on the bone, Offal (brains, heart, sweetbreads, liver, kidneys)
  • Eggs, Beef Dripping, Hard Cheeses, some Milk, Bone broths
  • White fish (Cod, Haddock), Mussels, Oysters, Herring
  • FRUIT/VEG: 8-10 portions per day. Apples, Cherries, Plums, Dried Fruit and Candied Peel, Chestnuts. Onions, Carrots, Turnips.
Mostly everything they consumed was seasonal and locally/organically grown, with genuinely free range animal products. Disease and ill health was pretty much none existent, and they were slim despite eating around 4000+ calories a day (although they were admittedly VERY active).

Anyway, I'm not entirely sure on the point of my post, I just felt inspired to share the article and thought others might find it interesting. My plan moving forward is to go back to basics and base my food choices on the Victorian 'tradition' while incorporating the principles of being pro-metabolic and reducing other causes of stress. I think quite naturally it should hit pretty much all my micronutrient requirements in balance, and should provide a balanced macronutrient split in line with what @CLASH switched me onto, i.e. adequate protein (around 130g), enough carbs for the brain, nervous system etc. (around 300g) and enough fat for digestion, satiety etc. (around 100g).

Hey, I’m not expert, but I’ve seen some of these articles on the Victorian diet. It seems pretty good to me! Personally I found it inspiring, in many ways in line with what we know now. I think it gives an interesting historical basis to a lot of things discussed here, in the same way that reading Weston A Price can be helpful.
 

Sefton10

Member
Thread starter
Joined
Oct 19, 2019
Messages
56
Progress update since initial post

I've fallen into eating the same way pretty consistently for a good 10 weeks or so now and feel the benefits are accruing slowly over time. Resting pulse is up a good 10bpm from where it was and my chronically cold hands and feet are much less of an issue. Hands especially are much warmer on a consistent basis. Sleep is good but I still have the odd 4am wake up (I'm up at 5am anyway, 9pm to bed) where I can feel liver glycogen has run out, but don't get any of the 1-2am hot sweats and adrenaline rush anymore.

Most days look pretty similar with 4 or 5 'meals', which was a big change for me. I tend to eat the same things most days and feel better in terms of digestion than I have for a long time. I cut out starches which seems to have played a big role in this and I must admit I haven't missed them at all. I'm also amazed at how little typical 'junk' foods that I would binge on previously now appeal. Feeling satisfied/satiated without bloating has been huge for me, as has the lack of 'hanger' swings'. I feel I'm on a much more even keel during the day now - I'll eat more if hungry and less if not and don't stick to any specific timings.

Typical day of foods (pretty much everything organic)

- Dates (probably around 300g split over 2 meals, usually breakfast and dinner). This is my main carb source in terms of density and fills the starch void for me. The only concern is I've heard some say dates can be estrogenic, but I haven't noticed any ill effects. They are really cheap bought in bulk too and store for ages.
- OJ and/or pineapple juice with coconut water.
- Raw whole milk and cheese.
- Raw egg yolks (I find the whites lead to bloating/stomach ache).
- Raw carrot and cooked mushrooms, I tend to mix them in with meals rather than eating on their own as a salad.
- Stewed organic fruit (Raisins, Dried Figs, Dried Apricots, Blueberries, Cherries, Apples, Banana (with skin), teaspoon of cinnamon and ginger). I stick a big batch in a pyrex bowl in the Instantpot and cook for 30 mins then this will last a week in the fridge.
- Coffee (1 caffeinated after breakfast, 1 decaf later in the day) with collagen/gelatin and milk with maple syrup.
- Cottage Cheese and Skyr. I'll add some organic cream or coconut cream/milk and an egg yolk and have it with the stewed fruit.
- Raw honey and bee pollen. My wife makes strawberry and raspberry jams this time of year too, I stopped marmalade as found it gave me acid reflux.
- Bone broth that I make in the Instantpot with organic beef bones. I'll chuck in some onions, celery, garlic and maybe some kale.
- Steak mince (around 150g raw weight a day). Less frequently some oxtail. I also use lamb bones for broth and often get quite a bit of meat off those.
- White fish, usually frozen cod or haddock. I replace this with frozen cooked mussels or tinned oysters maybe once a week. Beef liver once a fortnight or so.
- My main added fat is cocoa butter, sometimes beef tallow that I save from the bone broth, but I use these quite sparingly.
- I have 5g or so of unfortified nutritional yeast a day.

I find there is minimum prepping of foods involved and I can batch prepare lots of it for convenience. I can also buy lots of it in bulk (dates, raw milk, honey, maple syrup, meat, bones etc.), which I like as it reduces costs and I can then just shop the fresh stuff easily each week.

It probably sounds weird to most, but my go to 'meal' is raw grated carrot mixed with dates and boiled mushrooms that I fry off in a little cocoa butter, some grated raw cheese and ground beef or white fish, all together in a bowl. I feel really warm and satisfied after that and follow it up with a milky coffee or bone broth 30 mins or so later.

I haven't tracked for ages but last time I did on Cronometer I was hitting pretty much all micros. I think calories will be somewhere around 3500, not sure on macro split, but it intuitively feels like relatively low/moderate fat, moderate protein, high carb (pretty much all coming from sugar). My weight is maintaining and I'm making strength gains week on week doing a twice weekly full body resistance training workout. My only other exercise is maybe 90 mins of low intensity walking a day.

I wanted to cut down on supplements so now I just alternate Vit K and Vit E over a few days to fill those gaps. I salt foods and get extra Vit C from Camu Camu powder and I have some magnesium carbonate dissolved in Apple Cider Vinegar when I remember (I believe this forms mag acetate, which then turns into mag bicarbonate in the body). I was trying taurine but it doesn't seem to make any noticeable difference. I know dental health is largely internal, but I'm still a little paranoid given the amount of sugar I eat, so I have a little jar of Xylitol and bicarbonate of soda mix that I swoosh with and spit after eating. I also get red light first thing on a morning and last thing before bed and make sure I'm out in the sun during the day. I did get a Sperti Vit D sun lamp for winter in the UK but not used it yet.

Hopefully there's something of use in here for someone. Any comments/feedback on potential long term gaps or issues appreciated. I know a trend on here is for posts by people saying they've found the holy grail then next minute they are doing something entirely different, but this seems to be working for me thus far.

Cheers.
 

boris

Member
Joined
Oct 1, 2019
Messages
1,848
Their whole way of eating was actually pretty 'Peaty':
  • Meat on the bone, Offal (brains, heart, sweetbreads, liver, kidneys)
  • Eggs, Beef Dripping, Hard Cheeses, some Milk, Bone broths
  • White fish (Cod, Haddock), Mussels, Oysters, Herring
  • FRUIT/VEG: 8-10 portions per day. Apples, Cherries, Plums, Dried Fruit and Candied Peel, Chestnuts. Onions, Carrots, Turnips.
Mostly everything they consumed was seasonal and locally/organically grown, with genuinely free range animal products. Disease and ill health was pretty much none existent, and they were slim despite eating around 4000+ calories a day (although they were admittedly VERY active).

Sounds amazing :hungry:
 

CLASH

Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2017
Messages
1,011
@Sefton10
This is the first time I've ever seen this post. I didn't get any notifications about this. I'm glad that some of my ideas were able to help out.

Your template is pretty similar to mine and many of my friends and families. As you mentioned on the previous thread the only difference is the dairy. The only reason I don't eat it is personal intolerance, but some of my friends do well with it so in that case I dont see any issues with it. Either way, keep me updated on how your doing going forward. Interested to see how everything goes for you.
 

DMF

Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2012
Messages
212
Please sir...I want some more....
"Mid - Victorians" - what rung of society are we talking about?
Diet had a lot to do not necessarily with social class but also where you lived.
 

Hgreen56

Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2020
Messages
495
FRUIT/VEG: 8-10 portions per day. Apples, Cherries, Plums, Dried Fruit and Candied Peel, Chestnuts. Onions, Carrots, Turnips..
how did Mid-Victorian' stored there fruit?
answer: they probably couldn't? so this fruit was only 1 month a year available.
8-10 portions is a lot for every men so i think in overall that they eat lot less than you think.
 
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