By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only

Ten Rules for Eating

There was a time in my life when I only ate one meal per
day. That meal began at about 8 AM and lasted for 14 hours
until 10 PM. I called it "break-fast," because that single
and continuous meal ended an 8-hour fasting period
consisting of sleepy dreams filled with visions of

I looked in the mirror and saw Hungry Mungry.

(Excerpted from Shel Silverstein's, Hungry Mungry, Where the
Sidewalk Ends, 1974)

"Hungry Mungry sat at supper, took his knife and fork, Ate a
bowl of mushroom soup, ate a slice of roasted pork, Ate a
bowl of stewed tomatoes, twenty-seven deviled eggs, Fifteen
shrimps, nine baked potatoes, 32 fried chicken legs, A shank
of lamb, a boiled ham, two bowls of grits, some black-eyed
peas, Four chocolate shakes, eight angel cakes, nine custard
pies with Muenster cheese, Ten pots of tea, and after he had
eaten all that he was able, He poured some broth on the
tablecloth and ate the kitchen table."

When is the proper time to eat? How often should we eat? How
many meals per day? Which should be the major meal? Dietary
advice can be so confusing.

One hundred years ago, there lived a health reformer whose
dietary wisdom I now try to follow. Her name was Ellen G.
White, and I've gleaned ten rules about eating from her
55,000 pages of text. The more I read and study White's
work, the more her visions make sense to me.

Rule #1

"You should understand that every organ of the body is to be
treated with respect. In the matter of diet, you must reason
from cause to effect." (1908)

Rule #2

"It is possible to eat immoderately, even of wholesome food.
It does not follow that because one has discarded the use of
hurtful articles of diet, he can eat just as much as he
pleases. Overeating, no matter what the quality of the food,
clogs the living machine, and thus hinders it in its work."

Rule #3

"Masticate slowly, and allow the saliva to mingle with the
food. The more liquid there is taken into the stomach with
the meals, the more difficult it is for the food to digest;
for the liquid must first be absorbed." (1890)

Rule #4

"Do not have too great a variety at a meal; three or four
dishes are a plenty. At the next meal you can have a change.
The cook should tax her inventive powers to vary the dishes
she prepares for the table, and the stomach should not be
compelled to take the same kinds of food meal after meal."

Rule #5

"Puddings, custards, sweet cake, and vegetables, all served
at the same meal, will cause a disturbance in the stomach."

Rule #6

"Many professed health reformers are nothing less than
gluttons. They lay upon the digestive organs so great a
burden that the vitality of the system is exhausted in the
effort to dispose of it. It also has a depressing influence
upon the intellect; for the brain nerve power is called upon
to assist the stomach in its work." (1870)

Rule #7

"My brother, your brain is benumbed. A man who disposes of
the quantity of food that you do, should be a laboring man.
Exercise is important to digestion, and to a healthy
condition of body and mind. You need physical exercise. You
move and act as if you were wooden, as though you had no
elasticity. Healthy, active exercise is what you need. This
will invigorate the mind." (1901)

Rule #8

"The influence of pure, fresh air is to cause the blood to
circulate healthfully through the system. It refreshes the
body, and tends to render it strong and healthy, while at
the same time its influence is decidedly felt upon the mind,
imparting a degree of composure and serenity. It excites the
appetite, and renders the digestion of food more perfect,
and induces sound and sweet sleep." (1868)

Rule #9

"In order to secure healthy digestion, food should be eaten
slowly. Those who wish to avoid dyspepsia, and those who
realize their obligation to keep all their powers in a
condition which will enable them to render the best service
to God, will do well to remember this. If your time to eat
is limited, do not bolt your food, but eat less, and
masticate slowly. The benefit derived from food does not
depend so much on the quantity eaten as on its thorough
digestion; nor the gratification of taste so much on the
amount of food swallowed as on the length of time it remains
in the mouth. Those who are excited, anxious, or in a hurry,
would do well not to eat until they have found rest or
relief; for the vital powers, already severely taxed, cannot
supply the necessary digestive fluids." (1890)

Rule #10

"Custom has decreed that the food should be placed upon the
tables in courses. Not knowing what is coming next, one may
eat a sufficiency of food which perhaps is not the best
suited to him. When the last course is brought on, he often
ventures to overstep the bounds, and take the tempting
dessert, which, however, proves anything but good for him.
If all the food intended for a meal is placed on the table
at the beginning, one has opportunity to make the best
choice." (1905)

These rules make so much sense. Next time you serve dinner,
put the dessert on the table at the same time as the entree.
Apply rule number ten to your life for a simple change, and
you shall benefit by having better digestion.

Robert Cohen, author of:   MILK A-Z
Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

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