|By Robert Cohen Executive Director|
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 sugarplums. 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." (1890) 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." (1884) Rule #5 "Puddings, custards, sweet cake, and vegetables, all served at the same meal, will cause a disturbance in the stomach." (1900) 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dairy Education Board
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