Quick Question: On average how much did Henry VIII eat?
Unfortunately I am not sure exactly how much Henry VIII would have eaten in his younger years, especially when he was participating in hunts from dawn to dusk, jousts, wrestling, tennis and many other physical activities. But the fascinating documentary “Inside The Body of Henry VIII” presented by historian Robert Hutchinson, historian Dr Lucy Worlsey and Dr Catherine Hood, a medical doctor, does look at how much Henry VIII would have eaten in his later years of life.
At age thirty six Henry VIII suffered from Varicose Ulcers in his legs from continual wearing of tight garters. At age forty, in January 1536 he fell from his horse and was crushed by the weight of his own armour and the weight of his horse. As well as being knocked unconscious, possible brain damage the King also reopened the ulcers in his legs.
Due to Henry’s bad legs he was increasingly unable to participate in exercise and sports, activities he loved greatly. He started to binge eat and was often constipated and suffered from terrible mood swings. The documentary “Inside The Body of Henry VIII” looked at how much Henry actually ate in his later years. They suggest that Henry ate around 5000 calories a day, which is twice the average for a man of today’s times. Henry ate all the wrong types of foods, including too much ale and red wine, far too much bread and meat and not enough vegetables and fruits. Dr Lucy Worlsey then did a weekly shop for Henry and the amount of food that had to be bought was absolutely staggering. (Not to mention the cost of all the food that Henry consumed each week! I’m amazed his coffers weren’t even more bankrupt than they already were!) Of course back in the Tudor period they did not have anywhere as much knowledge or understanding about the types of foods and the appropriate amounts of foods required to keep the body functioning in a healthy manner. Certainly Henry VIII did eat to the extreme!
But still, 5000 calories a day, an unbalanced, unhealthy died and little exercise, no wonder Henry ended up being the obese figure history often remembers him as!
Henry VIII by Hans Holbein
“Inside The Body of Henry VIII” 2009, documentary presented by Robert Hutchinson, historian Dr Lucy Worlsey and Dr Catherine Hood