The 1940sExperiment for a Year – Take 2

I’m done. I’m literally the lowest I’ve been in regards to my health and quality of life in many, many years and coupled with Covid, The Cost of Living Crisis, and the looming possibility of WW3 (whether this happens or not the war in Ukraine will undoubtedly impact us economically), I simply cannot become unhealthy. I have no partner, I’m the sole wage earner, there is no back-up….quite honestly I’m petrified!

In recent months, especially since contracting Covid, my weight has soared and I feel very unhealthy indeed. I know you have likely heard this from me several times before, and trust me I try so hard for a while and then something life changing happens and I turn to food for reassurance and comfort. I’m so fed up with it all, I hate living like this. I’m hurting and only I can change this.

With seemingly only able to achieve success when I throw myself into something 100%, to the point of obsession, it seems to me that I need to commit to living another year on WW2 rations as a historical project to eat simpler, eat healthier, lose weight, use less, make do and tackle the cost of living that we are all struggling with by learning from our ancestors who had to endure those tough and uncertain times. Something serious has to be done, I’m honestly concerned that I’m on the way to becoming impacted medically by my over eating and living such a long time with morbid obesity.

It’s now got to the stage recently where I am seriously out of breath walking up the stairs and my back pain is just awful and am finding it super difficult to walk to work (it’s a mile there and a mile back). Where is that woman who just two years ago could walk several miles, who 5 years ago ran the London Marathon?

On January the 8th I’ll be 57 years old and want to commit to a life changing journey for a year to:

  • Lose 100 lbs (7 stone) by eat simply using WW2 rationing and continue researching and recreating historical recipes while doing so.
  • Live simply and make do with what I’ve got, be more environmentally mindful, avoid waste
  • Attempt to live on very little and save as much money as possible
  • Record details of the experiment on my blog
  • Start some therapy to deal with my eating issues
  • Increase my stamina and health again by walking more as my weight comes off

Essentially the focus of my blog in 2023 will be what the blog was originally about coupled with making do with less in every aspect of my life.

If you are new to my blog here’s some back story:

The 1940s Experiment is a personal journey and social experiment living for one year on a wartime ration book diet to conquer obesity.  100 wartime recipes will be recreated with photos as well as experiences of living on a 1940s WW2 ration diet… 1 authentic wartime recipe will be re-created for every 1 lb lost.

My highest ever weight was 345 lbs… I started the 1st full 1 year1940s Experiment in 2011 (but had done shorter challenges before then) at 315 lbs and lost 80 lbs, today I am 296 lbs. I’ve had a few stops and started along the way since but now I’m committed to seeing this through.

This will be my second proper attempt to live on wartime rationing for a full year.

Here was the result of my 1st full year original challenge: HERE

Thank you for your time reading this, you know I wear my heart and my troubles on my sleeve, some say it’s setting myself up for failure but it’s just the way I cope with things.

Hope everyone is OK, looking forward to Christmas and some proper rest. What changes do you think you will make in 2023? What will your focus be?

Lots of love as always, C xxxx

59 thoughts on “The 1940sExperiment for a Year – Take 2

  1. Carolyn, I can identify with your struggle. I’m in the midst of a similar struggle. I am going to try to join you in your attempt to live on wartime rations during the coming year. You do inspire me and by observing your journey, I,too, am better able to live accordingly. Thank you for your honesty and example of not just throwing in the towel.

    • It would be great being a support to each other, I’ll look forward to your updates! I will be starting mine on January 9th, the day after my birthday. This gives me a chance to have a house devoid of junk food after the Christmas Holiday and prepare for the challenge! Good luck Nancy and sending you hugs xxxx

      • Carolyn, you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders and it’s depressing you. You may be suffering from the after effects of Covid too which can cause lethargy, winter is a contributing factor causing SAD. It’s all come together at the same time compounding your anxieties, don’t despair. In the spirit of WW2, have a stiff upper lip then just keep calm and carry on.

  2. Carolyn….I have read you for a number of years, perhaps making your plan to lose accountable to your audience may help…..I hope so as you don’t deserve to do this to yourself. Get on your losing bus and let us know how you are doing. Pounds don’t mean much to me, just a slow loss with healthy food does it. Ww 2 diet may be your choice, just make sure you add lots of veggies and fruit. We are all cheering you on, just another marathon of sorts! Hugs. Ann lee s. Bc canada

    • Thanks Ann, I totally love my veggies but have lost control in recent months eating processed snacks which I’m looking forward to eradicating from my life. “Just a slow loss with healthy food” ….yes!!! You are so right xxxx Thanks and hugs back, C xxxx

  3. Stop beating yourself up! You haven’t given up and you have good plans and ideas, but I would just say that I think you need to build some ‘treats’ into your life. I don’t necessarily mean food, a manicure, a blow dry, a nice walk on a sunny day, a trip to the seaside… You get the drift, everyone needs some pleasure in life, please don’t deprive yourself of it.

    • I should just say that I have reached a weight where I am comfortable and can stay at, but 2023 is the year for me of frugality, I want to retire on my 60th birthday in November and am saving like crazy. There isn’t a corner I haven’t contemplated cutting and I don’t have a big income to start with, so maybe I could join in with the frugal bit, it would be nice to see how others manage.

      • Retiring at 60 sounds like a wonderful plan, life is so short and the most previous thing is time, imagine days ahead that can be filled with activities that bring joy…would love to retire at 60 too and will certainly aim for it. Wishing you success with your plans, how exciting!!! C xxxx

    • Yes absolutely. My happiest times are walks in the countryside and a leisurely pot of coffee at a coffee shop. Dropping some weight will allow me to start walking again which will bring much happiness xxxx

  4. Dear Carolyn, This is the low point of the year, you have been very poorly, there is a pandemic still, and the news is grim.
    I wish I could give you a big, “make it better hug.
    You are in your prime, and you know we have come through worse times than this, and we will get through this, one day at a time.
    Try to limit the time you spend on the bad news, look for the joy in the small things.
    My parents were busy in the house and garden, and didn’t listen to the news, and completely missed the Gulf War!
    I leaned this week that the panic in the night, with the mind racing, can be beaten by an audio book. Harry Potter read by Stephen Fry was a popular choice. I listen to the Georgette Heyer novels on Open Library. My other night time support is a flask of proper loose leaf tea.
    Know that people you have never met, love you and wish you well.

    • Sounds such sound advice! I have been giving negative media a lot of thought this past month and my New Year’s resolution is to read positive news every morning instead of sensationalised, negative news. It is so easy to get sucked into that void. Love your story about your parents! Thanks for your great suggestions and wonderful virtual hug xxxx C

  5. Carolyn, I’ve been following your blog for many years and your journey had always been so inspiring. Life is very scary right now and everyone copes differently. What matters is your ability to always get back on track. Many just let setbacks control them! You should feel so proud of your ability to realize when you need to change course.
    I think I will join you again! The scales have slowly been creeping as I’ve been off work and I think this will be a wonderful way to get back to health and save some on groceries and living expenses.

    • Thank you for your message Marina xxxx Totally agree, picking yourself up and trying yet again is so much better than just giving up and will really look forward to hearing of your experiences too! Xxxx C

  6. Carolyn, I was planning to do the same thing in 2023! What are the odds? 😀
    I’m a bit worried about having a family not on rationing, and balancing school/work with the 40s lifestyle, but, I’m eager to try it out!
    I can relate to your problems surrounding food, as I have really struggled with emotional eating. I’m actually doing better right now, but I’m also surrounded by Christmas food. We’ll see how it ends up, hehe.
    I know that I’m not going to be on rations 100%*, but I hope to stick pretty strictly to the rules. For a year! Ahhhh!
    (*I need to modify a few rations for health reasons. And I am training as a pastry chef. So I’m kind of surrounded by amazing baked goods all the time. :D)

    • Hi Hannah, this sounds really interesting and I hope you update us on your experiences. I first started recreating WW2 recipes when my kids were young, they tried some of the things I made but they were old enough to be set in their ways so would definitely turn their nose up so mostly just cooked for 40s for myself. Hope to hear more about your experience! Yep, Christmas food!!! Going to just enjoy Christmas and start my year of rationing on January 9, the day after my birthday xxxx

  7. A big hug! Retaining water, shortness of breath, heart racing are all symptoms of Congested Heart Failure. How hard is it for you to get into see a doctor or a nurse?

    • My New Year’s priority list is to see the Doctor in January for a really good check up. Luckily, because I’ve been here many times before at this particular weight or more, the same symptoms have appeared especially as I become more sedentary…I really hope it isn’t CHF but I do know at the heart of it is changing once and for all xxxx Thanks Judy xxxxx

  8. You have kept off 48 lbs. Congratulations! It is not easy to keep weight off long term. Sounds like getting a therapist is a great idea. Best wishes. I am on a weight loss journey that has involved learning not to binge by managing my stress in different ways. And eating well balanced meals. Best wishes. It takes longer to lose weight this way but it is sustainable long term.

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    • Good luck in your own personal journey too….bingeing and overeating is like taking drugs to manage stress and anxiety…I know where you are coming from. YES I’ve never had therapy before. Going to get some money saved in the New Year and book myself in for several sessions. Hugs xxx

  9. Carolyn, you’re not alone in this. Furthermore your blog is an inspiration to many. Your honest account of the struggles of life is something lots of your readers can relate to. We are all wishing you the best for 2023. Be encouraged and be blessed! Wishing you a Christmas full of joy and love, and a new year blessed with peace and hope ❤️👍🙏😊🎄🎅

    • Thank you so very much. Loved reading this message 🙂 Truly hope 2023 will be wonderful for you and hope you have a fantastic Christmas holiday xxxx Hugs C

  10. Oh Carolyn darling girl, you sound so down. I just want to say make 2023 a “year of joy” for yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be the Carolyn you want to be. Wishing you every happiness and success in achieving this in 2023, The Year of Carolyn. Sending love and hugs to the wonder that is Carolyn.💕

    • Awwww thank you so much xxxx I am a little down but am excited about making changes in 2023. I am already in planning mode and I am signed up to see the nurse to visit regularly regarding my weight. A weight loss club isn’t for me, I honestly do know what to eat and what is healthy, the problem is more psychological so therapy will help and hope to take advantage of all I can get through my nurse visits. Thank you so much for your lovely warm comment and hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year C xxxxx

  11. Oh Carolyn, I so know exactly how you are feeling but you can turn this around , I am so sorry that you feel so rotten . Food has been my comfort for many years ,my life is very stressful due to things that are totally out of my control and affect every day of my life but a phone call on the 14th September from my GP following a routine blood test changed things . She said that I was pre diabetic, just one point away from full blown diabetes and cholesterol was too high, she wanted to prescribe metformin and statins but I said no thankyou I would rather have the chance to right things by diet, she agreed so on the 15th I started I have now lost 2 stone and 8 pounds . Having control has improved my mental health as well as physical ,I still have several more stone to go but I know I can do it ,I don’t count calories or follow a diet plan ,I just eat less ,have a smaller plate or bowl, reduced carbs eg I make a sandwich with one slice of bread and fill the plate with salad and I don’t cook with fat ,one day a week I have a one meal day, usually a big bowl of porridge with berries, seeds and a few nuts, usually late afternoon and I am mainly plant based but have fish twice a week , this way of eating seems to suit me. I still have the stress but it helps me to cope by dealing with the one thing I can have control over also no goals that put me under stress to achieve, just one day at a time and yes I have had chips from the chippy but boy did I have a tummy ache afterwards and I will have some Christmas cake but not my usual great hunk, a normal size piece. I wish you the best of luck, you haven’t failed, you have just had a hiccough ( or maybe a huge burp 🙂 ) , you can do this and by the way you are really pretty. Take care, Chrissie.

    • Hi Chrissie, these are such GREAT tips and ideas and you seem to have found a way that is really working for you…you’ve done amazing changing things around like this! I know how hard this is to do!! Incredibly hard!!! Like you I have moderately high cholesterol but when I make an effort to not overeat and not eat high sugar, highly processed and saturated fats and eat lots of natural fibre and leafy green veg it drops so will work on mine again too, I don’t want to take statins either (my Mum and Dad eat pretty healthy and are not overweight but both have to take them). Wishing you continued success with getting healthy, sounds like you are doing so well. Congrats! Oh and thank you xxxxx C

  12. Hello Carolyn,
    thanks for the lovely blog and all your hard work about WWII cooking.
    You might want to try the short version of Wim Hof breathing exercise, it is about 10 minutes. I skip the cold shower part but you may want to try it.
    It completely normelized my blood pressure and helps a lot for the mood.
    And maybe add a 7 minutes workout or even less but daily.
    It’s the only way I found to curb my appetite, it may work for you as well.
    Don’t despair and thank you for everything.

    • Hi Delphine, Oooo I’ve never heard of Wim Hof breathing!! I am going to sit down with a coffee later and read about it, find a YouTube video, I’m all for trying something that improves health! Thank you so much! C xxxxx

  13. I’ve only just come across your blog. I wish you well during your forthcoming WWII project and hope you feel better as the days lengthen. I don’t go out when it is cold, (lung problems) and can’t walk far, but I find I can walk on the spot at home and get my steps in that way. I use theconquerorchallenge app to encourage me on my way; tossing up between virtually climbing Everest or going round Yosemite for my next challenge! Cardiologist is all in favour of walking on spot too; during ad breaks on TV!

    • Hi Kirsten, I need to do me some walking on the spot too! What a great idea! I remember doing some Conqueror Challenges a number of years ago and they REALLY helped keep me moving more, little bits soon add up! (and loved the medals too!!!). Sending you best wishes for Christmas and the new year xxxx C

  14. Hi Carolyn,
    Your fears are entirely understandable but you are not alone. I traditionally restart my diet year on January 8th, which was the day after my anniversary and 2 days after Ukrainian Christmas. It is a really good time to start because as you say, it gives time to rid the fridge of the ” Yule Yuckies” (or Christmas baddies). While you are doing this, might I suggest reading the articles on
    It’s hard to eat healthy on a tight budget but not impossible. I will trade my pound of meat for a brick of tofu or a bag of beans, my cheese for cashews and my milk for soy or oat milk. I have broccoli seeds to sprout on my window sill for extra sprouts greens.
    You’ve got this! The medical studies show that health markers can be greatly improved in as little as three months of taking stringent care of your diet. No matter what 2023 throws at us, we have the power to make the best of our selves.
    Good Luck, Be Well.
    Blessed Be!

    • Yes definitely! I think January 1st can be quite a difficult time to reset if one is trying to eat healthier as there is often still so much temptation lingering around the house! xxxx Sounds like you have got a great plan for animal free supplies! I’m going to use meat and dairy free alternatives and use my points on lots of lentils, kidney beans etc and look forward to lots of vegetables. I didn’t realise that Ukrainian Christmas was on the 6th January! I need to Google and find out more. Take care, thanks for your comment and hope you have a Happy and Healthy New Year XXX C

  15. You are so brave to put yourself on the line here and you now know that we will all be here holding you accountable … but more importantly cheering you on.

    You created something very special with the ‘Living on WW2 Rations’ Facebook group and helped so many people. Perhaps now it’s our turn to help you. I won’t be doing the ration experiment next year as instead I am doing a Low Spend Challenge and Use it Up Challenge on my blog, so similar but different as it were.

    I hope you have a lovely Christmas and that you can get ready for gearing up to a successful and healthy New Year. All the very best to you Carolyn. xx

    • Awwww thank you and oooo will definitely be reading your blog as will be trying hard to spend very little this year and fill the coffers again! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas too xxxx C

    • Fantastic!!! I will be using meatless options for my meat ration so I will have mince, sausage and bacon but vegan varieties! Look forward to hearing how you get on! xxxxx C

      • I don’t like vegan options of meat, would you happen to know how much lentils/ beans/ dried peas I could have instead? Good luck to you, you’ve done it before and succeeded

  16. Please know I stand with you. Weight has always been an issue for me. Like you there is no support here for me. I encourage you to be positive as you renew your efforts.

    • We should all encourage each other. I just know health and well-being is so precious and something I certainly have taken for granted for way too long and my bod is saying enough is enough. Much love to you xxxx C

  17. Hi Carolyn, I’m in a similar boat. I’ve been very ill over the last year, getting progressively worse. My weight is a really issue caused by a combination of compulsive overeating disorder, menopause and ill health that means I can’t exercise often. I have very little money, I’m struggling to pay my bills and I’m starting to struggle with my mental health as a result. I woke up this morning knowing I have to change things, and for a long time now I’ve thought that living a 1940’s style life might be the answer for me. The last time I did rationing was for a month but I felt so much healthier for it and I lost a stone. I’ve always loved the music and the clothes, and even the furniture from this era so if you don’t mind I think I might join you in living a year on rations, doing with less, using less of everything and wasting nothing. Maybe looking back in this way is the way forward. I hope you have a lovely Christmas and I’ll raise a glass to a better year for us both is 2023. All the best x

    • Dear Katharyn, what you just wrote really resonated with me (luckily I haven’t been ill though hugs xxx ). You are so right about struggling to pay bills and mental health too. Several years ago financially I was in dire straights, it such a heavy burden. Slowly over a number of years I turned it around by making lots of little changes and some big ones but it slowly began to accumulate and although this past couple of years my emergency fund has depleted, I have enough to get by for 3 or 4 months should I lose my job. It makes such a difference psychologically and helps with anxiety to know there is a little bit there. I want to seriously save this year though and add a bit more rainy day fund to that. The way I look at it is returning to a simple, inexpensive way of life based on 1940s rationing is an interesting way to do a years reset and I hope it will help me the way you want it to help you. Cheers to you too and I would love to hear how you get on and sincerely wish you a much better 2023. C xxxxx

  18. Dear Carolyn,

    My heart goes out to you!  I have yoyo’ed my diet for nearly 70 years. 
    I finally decided that I was like an alcoholic, I needed my fix!  The
    problem was that alcoholics only had to give up the BOOZE.  Us poor food
    addicts had to have our three fixes a day or die!

    I know alcoholics have the 12 steps to recovery.  I never bothered with
    it, but I know you need someone to give you strength and to boost your
    morale, it may be that some of these steps may help.

    Whatever you need, please be aware that there are so many people like me
    who are cheering you on.  GO GIRL AND SHOW THEM WHOSE THE BOSS.

    God bless and keep well Merry Christmas. Lotsa Luv Valerie

  19. Carolyn, Happy christmas eve from the united state. I’ve been a following of your amazing blog for almost 10 years, I think I started right when you were leaving Canada. I appreciate you articulating the struggle right. Staying positive right now is so important, yet feels like it takes a huge amount of emotional energy.
    I have yet to master the full rationing diet, and my weight has been up and down and up for the past three years.
    So 2023 is my second fifth try. 😁
    Also I really want to thank you for…1) some great articles over the years on the frugality and minimalism of the life during war time, those have been total game changers.
    And the 1940s ration challenge group. The christmas card exchange was an absolute highlight of the year, and my sisters were so jealous. It was great.
    Thank you again and I really hope you can enjoy the gift a new year always bring.
    Thinking of you and your Hobbits and sends warm christmas greetings from across the pond.

  20. Dear Carolyn,

    I am so sorry to read this post; you sound so desperately low. I wish I could hug you and say we can do this together.

    Not a lot of consolation, I’m sure, but you really are not alone.

    In my experience, the comfort and pleasure gained from eating are very common, especially when money is tight, ‘healthy’ food is the more expensive option, and a food treat is the only affordable treat. We celebrate with food, commiserate with food, alleviate boredom with food and, of course, sate our appetites with food, and that full tummy feeling due to a lack of portion control is very comforting. Then add into the mix above the old adage that you can’t save time and money, so the cheaper food, which has longer preparation and cooking times, becomes completely impracticable, and the more costly and frequently higher calorie food becomes the only tenable solution at the end of the working day.

    I think many of us feel desperately fearful of this new world we are living in. I know I am. I have never felt as teary as I have for the last 9 months. (I’m 62 this April.) During the pandemic, we all spoke about our ‘new normal’, but I don’t think any of us envisaged needing to also cope with a war on our doorstep, being afraid to warm our homes, and being unable to afford to eat healthily. As an aside, my teariness has been worse since I had my first, and thankfully only encounter with Covid in April this year; I was very teary while testing positive and have been since. I have a friend 11 months younger than me, and she has also been exceptionally teary while being infectious and post covid. I’ve always cried at sad films etc., but not at this level of teariness.

    As you correctly say, it is all too much. Not helped by the continual bombardment from the media and general social pressure about how our lives would be perfect if we purchased their product or behaved in a certain way.

    When it comes to dieting, I am also of the disposition that unless I can follow the diet perfectly, I go completely off the rails. I am 175 lbs and 5’2″, so am obese. (It really is a detestable word, isn’t it!) I have struggled to control my weight since my mid-teens. So I completely understand what you mean about being in pain, knowing that if you weighed less, you wouldn’t be in as much pain and yet being completely helpless to break that overeating cycle.

    However, the fact that you are still walking to work is such an achievement in itself; so many people would have completely given up by now. And all your aims for the new year are really good aims and achievable, but you need to try to remember that to ere is human, and I am sure that in the 1940s, many women would have been saving foodstuffs for a special family treat and lost the will power and eaten it themselves! Try to forgive yourself when you succumb to temptation; none of us is perfect, and start afresh from that point forward, don’t let that setback ruin the future, as tomorrow is always a brand new day that nobody has touched.

    I love to knit and sew, and as I join you on your journey this year, I intend to try and employ the same patience with regard to my healthy eating as I do when my knitting and sewing go wrong. If I make an error in my work, I unpick it, re-read the instructions and start again, as I keep trying to get it right. Sometimes I leave the work on one side and start again when I’m in the right mood, and I need to learn to do this with regard to food, not beat myself up about it when I overeat but accept that I have made a mistake. I work as a childminder in my own home, so food is always accessible.

    Perhaps you could add to your list of aims for 2023, one of my aims for me, which is to be patient and forgiving with yourself.

    Take care, Carolyn; I so enjoy reading your blogs and looking at all the WW2 publications you have so kindly posted; they are always so interesting. I simply wish there was something I could do for you.

    Kind regards,

    Frances xxx

    • Dear Frances, I nearly missed your wonderful and thought provoking comment, I found it three pages back, I’m so glad I saw it as it was wonderful to read your thoughts. I agree with so much that you have expressed. Food for me is comfort and happiness. I usually eat three highly nutritious meals a day, balanced with good fats, fresh vegetables, slow complex carbs, legumes, beans, mixed berries, seeds, raw salads etc BUT I will also eat rubbish, highly processed rubbish in between (and large quantities of these things) on bad days, I am not even hungry. I have to learn to change the psychology behind my over eating so will work hard on that this year with the help of a therapist. Like you and your friend, I too have been exceptionally teary since Covid. I cry every day, not because I’m depressed but I can be triggered by sadness and happiness in the world, everything feels heightened. Thanks once again for taking the time to wright such a lovely response and hope you have a wonderful and Happy New year. C xxxx

  21. Over on facebook, I’ve joined a no-spend group to reinforce my plan to buy food ingredients that I will cook at home instead of highly-processed snacks and fast food. Feel free to join us. It’s a great place to find support for sticking to a grocery list. 2023 No Spend Challenge

  22. I’ve been bartering and trading for the past few years to get rid of stuff and reduce spending! I hope it becomes more of a normal transaction especially during these times. There’s for services and have though I haven’t used those myself.

  23. Do you think full on immersing yourself into the 1940s with clothing and style would really put you in the mode of 1940s (within reason) rationing. Because if you don’t have modern distractions it might help keep you on track. I’ve been watching old movies and listening to music (I can’t stand most modern music anyways). I got some great music from

  24. I am just finding your updates now, I feel you and am in a similar place. Looking forward to following along with you!

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