Your Metabolism Isn’t Static
Even if this limited the combinations of food they could prepare, there was still ample room for artistic variation by the chef. While an average peasant household often made do with firewood collected from the surrounding woodlands, the major kitchens of households had to cope with the logistics of daily providing at least two meals for several hundred people. Should I just jump to all at once then slowly increase from there? Though rich in protein , the calorie -to-weight ratio of meat was less than that of plant food. I would be better off if I never tried! How best to make this last 6 disappear? Even dietary recommendations were different:
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Here's how the plans stack up. See the handy chart at the bottom of the page for a side-by-side comparison. The oldest national weight-loss program, its members rave about the encouragement they get at weekly meetings led by former Weight Watchers dieters. Nutritionists praise the portion-control points system: Each food is assigned points based on its serving size, calories, fiber, and fat; and no foods are forbidden. Your point allowance is based on your weight, height, gender, age, and activity level.
A recent clinical study in the New England Journal of Medicine linked group counseling sessions to weight-loss success. That explains why Weight Watchers has impressive short-term results.
A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed participants lost an average of about 5 percent of their body weight 10 pounds in six months.
Two years later, they had kept about half the weight off. To help members stay on track, Weight Watchers encourages them to attend meetings until they've stayed within 2 pounds of their goal weight for six weeks. After that, you get free lifetime membership. The company says members using its online tools in addition to attending meetings lost 50 percent more weight than those going to meetings alone.
Cost to lose 20 pounds: We looked at two plans from eDiets - one that offers support alone, and another with meal delivery. You can choose from among more than 20 diet plans, including ones for diabetics and vegetarians. Online tools let you set goals, plan menus and generate shopping lists.
There's no face-to-face support, but you get support through online message boards and a mentor program that connects newbies with an experienced member. Also, you can reach a registered dietitian or personal trainer by phone at any time. The optional meal delivery service offers freshly prepared, calorie-controlled meals delivered by FedEx.
But telephone support has some evidence in its favor: Yes, it's a bargain for round-the-clock support. For about the same money, other services offer better track records. For the first two weeks, you eat three extremely low-carb meals a day plus mandatory snacks.
After that, you gradually add "good carbs," such as fruits and whole grains. You can customize menus, search a database of more than 1, recipes and get a personalized shopping list. There's online support from staff dieticians and members plus daily motivational emails. Studies have shown that after one year, carb-restricted diets led to greater weight loss and increased heart health than low-fat diets.
However, the advantage disappeared over the long term. How much can you expect to lose? Figure on 8 to 13 pounds during the two- week kick-start phase, then 1 to 2 pounds a week thereafter.
It doesn't cost much, but you don't get as much support as with Weight Watchers or eDiets. The Zone diet is mostly meat, fruits, and vegetables.
You eat three meals per day plus two Zone protein-powder snacks. A study of people in the Journal of American Medical Association found the Zone diet helped people achieve modest weight loss after one year, comparable with those on the Atkins , Weight Watchers and Ornish diets, and improved cardiac risk factors. Premium-priced Jenny Craig lets you order its heart-healthy, nutritionally balanced packaged food by phone and pick it up at a Jenny Craig center or have it delivered through Jenny Direct.
You eat three Jenny Craig meals plus a snack per day, and supplement with fruit, vegetables and dairy. Once a week, you get a weigh-in and pep talk with a consultant - who is not a dietician and who earns commissions from selling you products.
There's also round-the-clock phone support. Jenny Craig has a good track record for short-term weight loss up to one year. In a UC San Diego clinical trial of dieters funded by Jenny Craig , Jenny Craig clients lost 11 percent of their initial weight after 12 months, compared with 3 percent weight loss by those who were dieting on their own.
The "doctor-designed" Bistro M. How did I get here? Your advice is so helpful. I look forward to your response. Oops, I forgot to say that I exercise daily, alternating cardio and cardio plus weight lifting every other day.
Hi Cynthia, 11lbs in 5 weeks is actually really good. It takes time for the weight to come off. A pound a week for a year is 52lbs. Would you be happy with that? Thank you for responding to my question! I will use this time to work concurrently on my body image, as you suggested.
It is very kind of you to take the time to help those struggling with weight. Hi, I am sitting at lb and 5ft 7. I have just recently started training and counting calories, averaging about a day. I train for 45 mins twice a week, bootcamp stuff, cardio and weights etc. Any advise would be appreciated. Check out this explanation — https: Should I cut back calories even further?
How best to make this last 6 disappear? Not much though — a 50 calorie cut, whether via diet or exercise should get things going. The lowest with hours of killing myself days a week doing cardio and lifting was lbs. I had to stop that as it just became too time consuming and honestly to discouraging.
All that time and not the desired results. This was done for a period of a min 2 years. My calculator indicates I should be eating 1,ish calories a day to lose 2lbs a week. Bowflex Max trainer mins during cal or more min times a week Walking normal hours a week. Mild Lifting nothing extreme. Calories from food range from 1, — ish. What in the world am i doing wrong….. The inches are not falling off the gut and the scale is not budging.
I sometimes really have to fight myself to do a workout which really is not the norm for me. I usually am super energetic. ANY tips, advice, are more than welcomed as this not fun anymore and getting that much older, having extra weight I also know can start to play a role on overall health.
Muscle and fat are 2 different things. Otherwise, you will lose size even if you put on muscle, as muscle is denser than fat on a lb for lb basis. Point being, your goal should be to put on muscle. Toning is just a matter of reducing body fat. Just worry about getting your weight trending in the right direction eating as many calories as you can.
Fuel the fat loss. Check out this article — https: Great article and solid advice! I have lost 45 pounds over the past 8 months. My weight loss has always been very difficult except when I was doing gymnastics four hours a day. I ate calories a day to drop the weight low carb keto diet.
However I plateaued at the beginning of September. I decided to bump my calories up to a day, because I figured my body had adapted to the calories. I have put back on six pounds not water weight — I am still on the keto plan.
How long does it take the body to reset? Thanks for any tips! A calorie bump overnight is a big one and very well could be too many calories for you depending on your stats. Thanks for the article! I am the person who left a question about greek yogurt a week ago. Thanks to your advice, my sleep quality has been perfect! However, now I am in a dilemma. Just to recap, I am 5ft2in, Ib, and 18 yr old.
I do have a history of yo-yo dieting for 3 yrs due to the lack of knowledge on metabolism silly me. Fortunately, my T2D is now reversed! I do have signs of suppressed metabolism, such as crankier mood, low body temp, significantly lighter period although it still occurs once a month and feeling weaker during strength training, and that really concerns me because my goal is to take care of my health.
My weight loss has slowed down a lot since I have started strength training I only lost 1Ib in three weeks , but my major concern is the intense hunger signal and starvation symptoms. Also, since I had T2D, I am now on a ketogenic diet. It has been working really well for me, and I would like to stick with it even during the reverse diet phase so no carb increase. Thank you so much for reading this long post! You might need calories. Maybe start with and see if those feelings go away in a few days.
If not you can always increase more. I have to raise myself to , as with my short height and being lb, calculators tell me to go around calories! But the goal of the article is to encourage people to start higher and only get to that number if you have to. Since August I have been watching what I eat and on a plan with a nutritionist eating roughly calories a day however i would have lots of cheat days and went from to the I just reimplemented physical activity and am doing 5 miles a day at 3.
I have now been stuck at Should I eat a little more or do a little less of physical activity, seeing the number not change and doing the pa is discouraging. Take a look at this article — https: I have been consuming calories per day and I have been gaining. I do workout almost everyday, burning around calories per day.
Overall, I guess that would be calories consumed during the week. But, on the weekends I am not as strict. I figure the additional calories I consume that weekend evens out the week. Is it that I am eating too much or too little? If I consume mon-fri with calories burned per day so cals consumed , but sat-sun I most likely consume more with exercise of cals burned — is my amount per day still too little or too much?
Is it wrong to make the weekend even out my week? Hopefully that makes sense! I am just trying to figure out why I have gained weight. If so, there could be something else at play.
I am now trying a 4th way of changing my eating to lose weight. I have tried low-carb, Trim Healthy Mama, intermittent fasting with 2 mi.
I have 70lbs to lose. Each and every diet I have been on I gain and lose the same 1lb for the 4 weeks I have tried each of them. I am so discouraged and frustrated.
I stop a diet, discouraged and go back to my bad way of eating and then gain several lbs a week for my trouble. I would be better off if I never tried! I am being very conscious of all I eat when following a plan. I used to eat horribly bad, thus the weight gain. I have cut out all sodas, added sugars, mochas, fast food. What else can I do? I had my thyroid checked a year ago and was borderline so doctor said that is not it.
I have the will and motivation, but nothing is working!! What do you recommend I do to find out what is wrong?? If you do that you end up getting stuck in the yoyo dieting cycle. Instead, do it because it makes you feel your best. Eating whole foods and moving your body gives you more energy, mental clarity, improves health, strength, and is fun. Get consistent with your eating and look to make small improvements to your eating, exercise, and mindset over time.
There is no magic diet. I take two workout classes per week and eat exactly calories per day. I cannot get the scale to budge. Do you think calories sounds like a good number for me? Just take that and subtract a couple hundred calories to start. See if your weight starts trending down. If not, cut calories every couple of weeks until it is. Did you start there? Is it based on something?
Have you come down to that level over time? I went to a store and had my BMR read. It says that my body burns calories a day. I have recently started working out CrossFit 4 times a week. I usually burn anywhere from calories during my workout. My Fitbit says I burn around a day. I have also started eating a high protein diet with veggies with low sugars. I am having a hard time getting more than calories a day while eating 6 times a day.
I am scared that I am going to shut down my metabolism. I eat when I am hungry but again high protein, veggies, staying around 32g of sugar. Will I see weight loss? How many calories should I actually get? I need to lose 30 lbs to be at a healthy weight for my height. Have you considered adding in some starches or healthy fats? Take a look at this article for how many calories to eat — https: Hi Tony, so glad I found your site.
Been reading my brains out all morning. What you say makes perfect sense. I am using a calorie counter and staying around calories a day. So careful about what I eat. Small meals all the time. I gag when I try. I went on weight watchers for 3 weeks and gained 2 pounds. Thanks Tony for this site and all your great information. Hi Susan, I would work towards getting over your fear of food. Food is your friend, not your enemy.
Will you gain weight? Already started that a few days ago since I read all you had to say here. But am not losing weight should I be eating more calories to lose weight? I eat very clean and have tried everything from cal to eating 6 small meals a day no carbs after 10 am And I can not lose..
Nobles dined on fresh game seasoned with exotic spices, and displayed refined table manners; rough laborers could make do with coarse barley bread, salt pork and beans and were not expected to display etiquette.
Even dietary recommendations were different: The digestive system of a lord was held to be more discriminating than that of his rustic subordinates and demanded finer foods. In the late Middle Ages, the increasing wealth of middle class merchants and traders meant that commoners began emulating the aristocracy, and threatened to break down some of the symbolic barriers between the nobility and the lower classes.
The response came in two forms: Medical science of the Middle Ages had a considerable influence on what was considered healthy and nutritious among the upper classes. One's lifestyle—including diet, exercise, appropriate social behavior, and approved medical remedies—was the way to good health, and all types of food were assigned certain properties that affected a person's health.
All foodstuffs were also classified on scales ranging from hot to cold and moist to dry, according to the four bodily humours theory proposed by Galen that dominated Western medical science from late Antiquity until the 17th century. Medieval scholars considered human digestion to be a process similar to cooking.
The processing of food in the stomach was seen as a continuation of the preparation initiated by the cook. In order for the food to be properly "cooked" and for the nutrients to be properly absorbed, it was important that the stomach be filled in an appropriate manner. Easily digestible foods would be consumed first, followed by gradually heavier dishes. If this regimen were not respected it was believed that heavy foods would sink to the bottom of the stomach, thus blocking the digestion duct, so that food would digest very slowly and cause putrefaction of the body and draw bad humours into the stomach.
It was also of vital importance that food of differing properties not be mixed. Before a meal, the stomach would preferably be "opened" with an apéritif from Latin aperire , "to open" that was preferably of a hot and dry nature: As the stomach had been opened, it should then be "closed" at the end of the meal with the help of a digestive, most commonly a dragée , which during the Middle Ages consisted of lumps of spiced sugar, or hypocras , a wine flavoured with fragrant spices, along with aged cheese.
A meal would ideally begin with easily digestible fruit, such as apples. It would then be followed by vegetables such as lettuce , cabbage , purslane , herbs, moist fruits, light meats, such as chicken or goat kid , with potages and broths. After that came the "heavy" meats, such as pork and beef , as well as vegetables and nuts, including pears and chestnuts, both considered difficult to digest. It was popular, and recommended by medical expertise, to finish the meal with aged cheese and various digestives.
The most ideal food was that which most closely matched the humour of human beings, i. Food should preferably also be finely chopped, ground, pounded and strained to achieve a true mixture of all the ingredients. White wine was believed to be cooler than red and the same distinction was applied to red and white vinegar.
Milk was moderately warm and moist, but the milk of different animals was often believed to differ. Egg yolks were considered to be warm and moist while the whites were cold and moist.
Skilled cooks were expected to conform to the regimen of humoral medicine. Even if this limited the combinations of food they could prepare, there was still ample room for artistic variation by the chef. The caloric content and structure of medieval diet varied over time, from region to region, and between classes. However, for most people, the diet tended to be high-carbohydrate, with most of the budget spent on, and the majority of calories provided by, cereals and alcohol such as beer.
Even though meat was highly valued by all, lower classes often could not afford it, nor were they allowed by the church to consume it every day. In one early 15th-century English aristocratic household for which detailed records are available that of the Earl of Warwick , gentle members of the household received a staggering 3.
In the household of Henry Stafford in , gentle members received 2. In monasteries, the basic structure of the diet was laid down by the Rule of Saint Benedict in the 7th century and tightened by Pope Benedict XII in , but as mentioned above monks were adept at "working around" these rules.
This was circumvented in part by declaring that offal , and various processed foods such as bacon , were not meat. Secondly, Benedictine monasteries contained a room called the misericord , where the Rule of Saint Benedict did not apply, and where a large number of monks ate.
Each monk would be regularly sent either to the misericord or to the refectory. When Pope Benedict XII ruled that at least half of all monks should be required to eat in the refectory on any given day, monks responded by excluding the sick and those invited to the abbot's table from the reckoning.
The overall caloric intake is subject to some debate. As a consequence of these excesses, obesity was common among upper classes. The regional specialties that are a feature of early modern and contemporary cuisine were not in evidence in the sparser documentation that survives.
Instead, medieval cuisine can be differentiated by the cereals and the oils that shaped dietary norms and crossed ethnic and, later, national boundaries.
Geographical variation in eating was primarily the result of differences in climate, political administration, and local customs that varied across the continent. Though sweeping generalizations should be avoided, more or less distinct areas where certain foodstuffs dominated can be discerned.
In the British Isles , northern France , the Low Countries , the northern German-speaking areas, Scandinavia and the Baltic , the climate was generally too harsh for the cultivation of grapes and olives. In the south, wine was the common drink for both rich and poor alike though the commoner usually had to settle for cheap second pressing wine while beer was the commoner's drink in the north and wine an expensive import.
Citrus fruits though not the kinds most common today and pomegranates were common around the Mediterranean. Dried figs and dates were available in the north, but were used rather sparingly in cooking. Olive oil was a ubiquitous ingredient in Mediterranean cultures, but remained an expensive import in the north where oils of poppy , walnut, hazel and filbert were the most affordable alternatives.
Butter and lard , especially after the terrible mortality during the Black Death made them less scarce, were used in considerable quantities in the northern and northwestern regions, especially in the Low Countries. Almost universal in middle and upper class cooking all over Europe was the almond , which was in the ubiquitous and highly versatile almond milk , which was used as a substitute in dishes that otherwise required eggs or milk, though the bitter variety of almonds came along much later.
In Europe there were typically two meals a day: The two-meal system remained consistent throughout the late Middle Ages. Smaller intermediate meals were common, but became a matter of social status, as those who did not have to perform manual labor could go without them. For practical reasons, breakfast was still eaten by working men, and was tolerated for young children, women, the elderly and the sick.
Because the church preached against gluttony and other weaknesses of the flesh, men tended to be ashamed of the weak practicality of breakfast. Lavish dinner banquets and late-night reresopers from Occitan rèire-sopar , "late supper" with considerable amounts of alcoholic beverage were considered immoral.
The latter were especially associated with gambling, crude language, drunkenness, and lewd behavior. As with almost every part of life at the time, a medieval meal was generally a communal affair. The entire household, including servants, would ideally dine together. To sneak off to enjoy private company was considered a haughty and inefficient egotism in a world where people depended very much on each other. When possible, rich hosts retired with their consorts to private chambers where the meal could be enjoyed in greater exclusivity and privacy.
Being invited to a lord's chambers was a great privilege and could be used as a way to reward friends and allies and to awe subordinates. It allowed lords to distance themselves further from the household and to enjoy more luxurious treats while serving inferior food to the rest of the household that still dined in the great hall.
At major occasions and banquets, however, the host and hostess generally dined in the great hall with the other diners. However, it can be assumed there were no such extravagant luxuries as multiple courses , luxurious spices or hand-washing in scented water in everyday meals. Things were different for the wealthy.
Before the meal and between courses, shallow basins and linen towels were offered to guests so they could wash their hands, as cleanliness was emphasized.
Social codes made it difficult for women to uphold the ideal of immaculate neatness and delicacy while enjoying a meal, so the wife of the host often dined in private with her entourage or ate very little at such feasts. She could then join dinner only after the potentially messy business of eating was done. Overall, fine dining was a predominantly male affair, and it was uncommon for anyone but the most honored of guests to bring his wife or her ladies-in-waiting. The hierarchical nature of society was reinforced by etiquette where the lower ranked were expected to help the higher, the younger to assist the elder, and men to spare women the risk of sullying dress and reputation by having to handle food in an unwomanly fashion.
Shared drinking cups were common even at lavish banquets for all but those who sat at the high table , as was the standard etiquette of breaking bread and carving meat for one's fellow diners. Food was mostly served on plates or in stew pots, and diners would take their share from the dishes and place it on trenchers of stale bread, wood or pewter with the help of spoons or bare hands. In lower-class households it was common to eat food straight off the table.
Knives were used at the table, but most people were expected to bring their own, and only highly favored guests would be given a personal knife. A knife was usually shared with at least one other dinner guest, unless one was of very high rank or well-acquainted with the host. Forks for eating were not in widespread usage in Europe until the early modern period , and early on were limited to Italy.
Even there it was not until the 14th century that the fork became common among Italians of all social classes. The change in attitudes can be illustrated by the reactions to the table manners of the Byzantine princess Theodora Doukaina in the late 11th century. She was the wife of Domenico Selvo , the Doge of Venice , and caused considerable dismay among upstanding Venetians. The foreign consort's insistence on having her food cut up by her eunuch servants and then eating the pieces with a golden fork shocked and upset the diners so much that there was a claim that Peter Damian , Cardinal Bishop of Ostia , later interpreted her refined foreign manners as pride and referred to her as " All types of cooking involved the direct use of fire.
Kitchen stoves did not appear until the 18th century, and cooks had to know how to cook directly over an open fire. Ovens were used, but they were expensive to construct and only existed in fairly large households and bakeries. It was common for a community to have shared ownership of an oven to ensure that the bread baking essential to everyone was made communal rather than private.
There were also portable ovens designed to be filled with food and then buried in hot coals, and even larger ones on wheels that were used to sell pies in the streets of medieval towns. But for most people, almost all cooking was done in simple stewpots, since this was the most efficient use of firewood and did not waste precious cooking juices, making potages and stews the most common dishes.
This was considered less of a problem in a time of back-breaking toil, famine, and a greater acceptance—even desirability—of plumpness; only the poor or sick, and devout ascetics , were thin. Fruit was readily combined with meat, fish and eggs. The recipe for Tart de brymlent , a fish pie from the recipe collection Forme of Cury , includes a mix of figs , raisins , apples and pears with fish salmon , codling or haddock and pitted damson plums under the top crust.
This meant that food had to be "tempered" according to its nature by an appropriate combination of preparation and mixing certain ingredients, condiments and spices; fish was seen as being cold and moist, and best cooked in a way that heated and dried it, such as frying or oven baking, and seasoned with hot and dry spices; beef was dry and hot and should therefore be boiled ; pork was hot and moist and should therefore always be roasted.
In a recipe for quince pie, cabbage is said to work equally well, and in another turnips could be replaced by pears. The completely edible shortcrust pie did not appear in recipes until the 15th century. Before that the pastry was primarily used as a cooking container in a technique known as ' huff paste '. Extant recipe collections show that gastronomy in the Late Middle Ages developed significantly.
New techniques, like the shortcrust pie and the clarification of jelly with egg whites began to appear in recipes in the late 14th century and recipes began to include detailed instructions instead of being mere memory aids to an already skilled cook. In most households, cooking was done on an open hearth in the middle of the main living area, to make efficient use of the heat. This was the most common arrangement, even in wealthy households, for most of the Middle Ages, where the kitchen was combined with the dining hall.
Towards the Late Middle Ages a separate kitchen area began to evolve. The first step was to move the fireplaces towards the walls of the main hall, and later to build a separate building or wing that contained a dedicated kitchen area, often separated from the main building by a covered arcade. This way, the smoke, odors and bustle of the kitchen could be kept out of sight of guests, and the fire risk lessened.
Many basic variations of cooking utensils available today, such as frying pans , pots , kettles , and waffle irons , already existed, although they were often too expensive for poorer households.
Other tools more specific to cooking over an open fire were spits of various sizes, and material for skewering anything from delicate quails to whole oxen. Utensils were often held directly over the fire or placed into embers on tripods.
To assist the cook there were also assorted knives, stirring spoons, ladles and graters. In wealthy households one of the most common tools was the mortar and sieve cloth, since many medieval recipes called for food to be finely chopped, mashed, strained and seasoned either before or after cooking.
This was based on a belief among physicians that the finer the consistency of food, the more effectively the body would absorb the nourishment. It also gave skilled cooks the opportunity to elaborately shape the results. Fine-textured food was also associated with wealth; for example, finely milled flour was expensive, while the bread of commoners was typically brown and coarse.
A typical procedure was farcing from the Latin farcio , "to cram" , to skin and dress an animal, grind up the meat and mix it with spices and other ingredients and then return it into its own skin, or mold it into the shape of a completely different animal. The kitchen staff of huge noble or royal courts occasionally numbered in the hundreds: While an average peasant household often made do with firewood collected from the surrounding woodlands, the major kitchens of households had to cope with the logistics of daily providing at least two meals for several hundred people.
Guidelines on how to prepare for a two-day banquet can be found in the cookbook Du fait de cuisine "On cookery" written in in part to compete with the court of Burgundy  by Maistre Chiquart, master chef of Amadeus VIII, Duke of Savoy. Food preservation methods were basically the same as had been used since antiquity, and did not change much until the invention of canning in the early 19th century.
The most common and simplest method was to expose foodstuffs to heat or wind to remove moisture , thereby prolonging the durability if not the flavor of almost any type of food from cereals to meats; the drying of food worked by drastically reducing the activity of various water-dependent microorganisms that cause decay. In warm climates this was mostly achieved by leaving food out in the sun, and in the cooler northern climates by exposure to strong winds especially common for the preparation of stockfish , or in warm ovens, cellars, attics, and at times even in living quarters.
Subjecting food to a number of chemical processes such as smoking , salting , brining , conserving or fermenting also made it keep longer. Most of these methods had the advantage of shorter preparation times and of introducing new flavors. Smoking or salting meat of livestock butchered in autumn was a common household strategy to avoid having to feed more animals than necessary during the lean winter months.
Vegetables, eggs or fish were also often pickled in tightly packed jars, containing brine and acidic liquids lemon juice , verjuice or vinegar. Another method was to seal the food by cooking it in sugar or honey or fat, in which it was then stored. Microbial modification was also encouraged, however, by a number of methods; grains, fruit and grapes were turned into alcoholic drinks thus killing any pathogens, and milk was fermented and curdled into a multitude of cheeses or buttermilk.
The majority of the European population before industrialization lived in rural communities or isolated farms and households. The norm was self-sufficiency with only a small percentage of production being exported or sold in markets. Large towns were exceptions and required their surrounding hinterlands to support them with food and fuel. The dense urban population could support a wide variety of food establishments that catered to various social groups. Many of the poor city dwellers had to live in cramped conditions without access to a kitchen or even a hearth, and many did not own the equipment for basic cooking.
Food from vendors was in such cases the only option. Cookshops could either sell ready-made hot food, an early form of fast food , or offer cooking services while the customers supplied some or all of the ingredients.
Travellers, such as pilgrims en route to a holy site, made use of professional cooks to avoid having to carry their provisions with them. For the more affluent, there were many types of specialist that could supply various foods and condiments: Well-off citizens who had the means to cook at home could on special occasions hire professionals when their own kitchen or staff could not handle the burden of throwing a major banquet.
Urban cookshops that catered to workers or the destitute were regarded as unsavory and disreputable places by the well-to-do and professional cooks tended to have a bad reputation. Geoffrey Chaucer 's Hodge of Ware, the London cook from the Canterbury Tales , is described as a sleazy purveyor of unpalatable food. French cardinal Jacques de Vitry 's sermons from the early 13th century describe sellers of cooked meat as an outright health hazard.
The stereotypical cook in art and literature was male, hot-tempered, prone to drunkenness, and often depicted guarding his stewpot from being pilfered by both humans and animals. In the early 15th century, the English monk John Lydgate articulated the beliefs of many of his contemporaries by proclaiming that "Hoot ffir [fire] and smoke makith many an angry cook.
The period between c. More intense agriculture on an ever-increasing acreage resulted in a shift from animal products, like meat and dairy, to various grains and vegetables as the staple of the majority population.
A bread-based diet became gradually more common during the 15th century and replaced warm intermediate meals that were porridge- or gruel-based. Leavened bread was more common in wheat-growing regions in the south, while unleavened flatbread of barley, rye or oats remained more common in northern and highland regions, and unleavened flatbread was also common as provisions for troops.
The most common grains were rye , barley , buckwheat , millet and oats. Rice remained a fairly expensive import for most of the Middle Ages and was grown in northern Italy only towards the end of the period.
Wheat was common all over Europe and was considered to be the most nutritious of all grains, but was more prestigious and thus more expensive.