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Counsels on Diet and Foods

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    Appendix 1

    Personal Experience of Ellen G. White as a Health Reformer

    [In reading the statements from Mrs. White's pen regarding her dietetic practices, the thoughtful student will recognize the following principles:CD 481.1

    First: “The diet reform should be progressive.”—The Ministry of Healing, 320. The light was not given in its fullness at the first. It was bestowed with increasing force from time to time as people were prepared to understand and act upon it, and it was fitted to the general practices and customs of eating at the time the instruction was given.CD 481.2

    Second: “We do not mark out any precise line to be followed in diet.”—Testimonies for the Church 9:159. Repeated warnings were given against certain specific injurious foods. But in the main, general principles were laid down, and detailed application of these broad principles must sometimes be determined by experimentation, and by the best scientific conclusions available.CD 481.3

    Third: “I make myself a criterion for no one else.”—Letter 45, 1903. Having by intelligent experimentation adopted certain rules for herself, Mrs. White at times described the dietetic regimen of her own home, but not as a rule by which others must be rigidly governed.—Compilers.]CD 481.4

    The First Health Reform Vision

    1. It was at the house of Brother A. Hilliard, at Otsego, Michigan, June 6, 1863, That the great subject of health Reform was opened before me in vision.—The Review and Herald, October 8, 1867CD 481.5

    Revealed as Progressive Work

    2. In the light given me so long ago (1863), I was shown that intemperance would prevail in the world to an alarming extent, and that every one of the people of God must take an elevated stand in regard to reformation in habits and practices.... The Lord presented a general plan before me. I was shown that God would give to His commandment-keeping people a reform diet, and that as they received this, their disease and suffering would be greatly lessened. I was shown that this work would progress.—[The General Conference Bulletin, April 12, 1901] Counsels on Health, 531CD 481.6

    [To Steadily Progress toward the Ideal Diet—651]

    [A Caution against Advancing Too Fast—803]

    A Personal Acceptance of the Message

    3. I accepted the light on health reform as it came to me. It has been a great blessing to me. I have better health today, notwithstanding I am seventy-six years old, than I had in my younger days. I thank God for the principles of health reform.—Manuscript 50, 1904CD 482.1

    After One Year's Trial—Benefits Received

    4. I have thought for years that I was dependent upon a meat diet for strength. I have eaten three meals a day until within a few months. It has been very difficult for me to go from one meal to another without suffering from faintness at the stomach, and dizziness of the head. Eating would remove these feelings. I seldom allowed myself to eat anything between my regular meals, and have made it a practice to often retire without supper. But I have suffered greatly for want of food from breakfast to dinner, and have frequently fainted. Eating meat removed for the time these faint feelings. I therefore decided that meat was indispensable in my case.CD 482.2

    But since the Lord presented before me, in June, 1863, the subject of meat eating in relation to health, I have left the use of meat. For a while it was rather difficult to bring my appetite to bread, for which, formerly, I had but little relish. But by persevering, I have been able to do this. I have lived for nearly one year without meat. For about six months most of the bread upon our table has been unleavened cakes, made of unbolted wheat meal and water, and a very little salt. We use fruits and vegetables liberally. I have lived for eight months upon two meals a day.CD 482.3

    I have applied myself to writing the most of the time for above a year. For eight months have been confined closely to writing. My brain has been constantly taxed, and I have had but little exercise. Yet my health has never been better than for the past six months. My former faint and dizzy feelings have left me. I have been troubled every spring with loss of appetite. The last spring I had no trouble in this respect.CD 482.4

    Our plain food, eaten twice a day, is enjoyed with a keen relish. We have no meat, cake, or any rich food upon our table. We use no lard, but in its place, milk, cream, and some butter. We have our food prepared with but little salt, and have dispensed with spices of all kinds. We breakfast at seven, and take our dinner at one. It is seldom I have a faint feeling. My appetite is satisfied. My food is eaten with a greater relish than ever before.—Spiritual Gifts 4a:153, 154, 1864CD 483.1

    [Some Salt Essential to Blood—571, 572]

    The Battle for Victory

    5. I have not changed my course a particle since I adopted the health reform. I have not taken one step back since the light from heaven upon this subject first shone upon my pathway. I broke away from everything at once,—from meat and butter, and from three meals,—and that while engaged in exhaustive brain labor, writing from early morning till sundown. I came down to two meals a day without changing my labor.CD 483.2

    I have been a great sufferer from disease, having had five shocks of paralysis. I have been with my left arm bound to my side for months, because the pain in my heart was so great. When making these changes in my diet, I refused to yield to taste, and let that govern me. Shall that stand in the way of my securing greater strength, that I may therewith glorify my Lord? Shall that stand in my way for a moment? Never!CD 483.3

    I suffered keen hunger, I was a great meat eater. But when faint, I placed my arms across my stomach, and said, “I will not taste a morsel. I will eat simple food, or I will not eat at all.” Bread was distasteful to me. I could seldom eat a piece as large as a dollar. Some things in the reform I could get along with very well; but when I came to the bread, I was especially set against it. When I made these changes, I had a special battle to fight. The first two or three meals, I could not eat. I said to my stomach, “You may wait until you can eat bread.” In a little while I could eat bread, and graham bread, too. This I could not eat before; but now it tastes good, and I have had no loss of appetite.CD 483.4

    Acted on Principle

    When writing “Spiritual Gifts,” Volumes III and IV [1863-64], I would become exhausted by excessive labor. I then saw that I must change my course of life, and by resting a few days I came out all right again. I left off these things from principle. I took my stand on health reform from principle. And since that time, brethren, you have not heard me advance an extreme view of health reform that I have had to take back. I have advanced nothing but what I stand to today. I recommend to you a healthful, nourishing diet.CD 484.1

    I do not regard it a great privation to discontinue the use of those things which leave a bad smell in the breath and a bad taste in the mouth. Is it self-denial to leave these things, and get into a condition where everything is as sweet as honey; where no bad taste is left in the mouth; and no feeling of goneness in the stomach? These I used to have much of the time. I have fainted away with my child in my arms again and again. I have none of this now; and shall I call this a privation, when I can stand before you as I do this day? There is not one woman in a hundred that could endure the amount of labor that I do. I moved out from principle, not from impulse. I moved because I believed Heaven would approve of the course I was taking to bring myself into the very best condition of health, that I might glorify God in my body and spirit, which are His.—Testimonies for the Church 2:371, 372, 1870CD 484.2

    A Battle Against the Vinegar Habit

    6. I have just read your letter. You seem to have an earnest desire to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. I encourage you to do this. I counsel you to discard everything that would cause you to do halfway work in seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Put away every indulgence that would hinder you in the work of overcoming. Ask for the prayers of those who can comprehend your need of help.CD 484.3

    There was a time when I was in a situation similar in some respects to yours. I had indulged the desire for vinegar. But I resolved with the help of God to overcome this appetite. I fought the temptation, determined not to be mastered by this habit.CD 485.1

    For weeks I was very sick; but I kept saying over and over, The Lord knows all about it. If I die, I die; but I will not yield to this desire. The struggle continued, and I was sorely afflicted for many weeks. All thought that it was impossible for me to live. You may be sure we sought the Lord very earnestly. The most fervent prayers were offered for my recovery. I continued to resist the desire for vinegar, and at last I conquered. Now I have no inclination to taste anything of the kind. This experience has been of great value to me in many ways. I obtained a complete victory.CD 485.2

    I relate this experience to you for your help and encouragement. I have faith, my sister, that you can come through this trial, and reveal that God is the helper of His children in every time of need. If you determine to conquer this habit, and will fight it perseveringly, you can obtain an experience of the highest value. When you set your will resolutely to break off this indulgence, you will have the help you need from God. Try it, my sister.CD 485.3

    As long as you acknowledge this habit by indulging it, Satan will retain his hold on your will, and bring it into obedience to himself. But if you will determine to overcome, the Lord will heal you, and will give you strength to resist every temptation. Ever remember that Christ is your Saviour and Keeper.—Letter 70, 1911CD 485.4

    A Spare, but Adequate Diet

    7. I eat enough to satisfy the wants of nature; but when I get up from the table, my appetite is just as good as when I sat down. And when the next meal comes, I am ready to take my portion, and no more. Should I eat a double amount now and then because it tastes good, how could I bow down and ask God to help me in my work of writing, when I could not get an idea on account of my gluttony? Could I ask God to take care of that unreasonable load upon my stomach? That would be dishonoring Him. That would be asking to consume upon my lust. Now I eat just what I think is right, and then I can ask Him to give me strength to perform the work that He has given me to do. And I have known that Heaven has heard and answered my prayer, when I have offered this petition.—Testimonies for the Church 2:373, 374, 1870CD 485.5

    A Well-supplied Table

    8. I have a well-set table on all occasions. I make no change for visitors, whether believers or unbelievers. I intend never to be surprised by an unreadiness to entertain at my table from one to half a dozen extra who may chance to come in. I have enough simple, healthful food ready to satisfy hunger and nourish the system. If any want more than this, they are at liberty to find it elsewhere. No butter or flesh meats of any kind come on my table. Cake is seldom found there. I generally have an ample supply of fruits, good bread, and vegetables. Our table is always well patronized, and all who partake of the food do well, and improve upon it. All sit down with no epicurean appetite, and eat with a relish the bounties supplied by our Creator.—Testimonies for the Church 2:487, 1870CD 486.1

    [Food Sweetened as Required, No Sugar on Table—532]

    On the Cars

    9. While parents and children were eating of their dainties, my husband and myself partook of our simple repast, at our usual hour, at 1 P.M., of graham bread without butter, and a generous supply of fruit. We ate our meal with a keen relish, and with thankful hearts that we were not obliged to carry a popular grocery with us to provide for a capricious appetite. We ate heartily, and felt no sense of hunger until the next morning. The boy with his oranges, nuts, popcorn, and candies, found us poor customers—The Health Reformer, December, 1870CD 486.2

    [In 1873, a little milk and some sugar—532]

    Encountering Difficulties and Resultant Compromises

    10. Over thirty years ago I was often in great weakness. Many prayers were offered in my behalf. It was thought that flesh meat would give me vitality, and this was, therefore, my principal article of diet. But instead of gaining strength, I grew weaker and weaker. I often fainted from exhaustion. Light came to me, showing me the injury men and women were doing to the mental, moral, and physical faculties by the use of flesh meat. I was shown that the whole human structure is affected by this diet, that by it man strengthens the animal propensities and the appetite for liquor.CD 487.1

    I at once cut meat out of my bill of fare. After that I was at times placed where I was compelled to eat a little meat.—Letter 83, 1901CD 487.2

    [At times compelled to eat a little meat when other food was not available—699]

    [Note.—From the time of her girlhood, Mrs. White was burdened with writing and public ministry, and was therefore obliged to place the responsibilities of the domestic work in her home largely upon housekeepers and cooks. She was not always able to secure the services of those trained in hygienic cookery. So there were times in her own home when various compromises had to be made between the ideal standards, and the knowledge, experience, and standards of a new cook. Then, too, much of the time while traveling, she was dependent for her food upon those whom she was visiting. Although able to subsist upon a spare diet, it sometimes seemed necessary to eat some meat, which she knew was not the best food and which was not of her own choosing.—Compilers.]CD 487.3

    Lament for Want of a Cook—1892

    11. I am suffering more now for want of some one who is experienced in the cooking line,—to prepare things I can eat.... Food is prepared in such a way that it is not appetizing, but is having the tendency to dry up the desire for food. I would pay a higher price for a cook than for any other part of my work.—Letter 19c, 1892CD 487.4

    Final Pledge for Teetotal Nonflesh Diet

    12. Since the camp meeting at Brighton (January, 1894) I have absolutely banished meat from my table. It is an understanding that whether I am at home or abroad, nothing of this kind is to be used in my family, or come upon my table. I have had much representation before my mind in the night season on this subject.—Letter 76, 1895CD 488.1

    13. We have plenty of good milk, fruit, and bread. I have already consecrated my table. I have freed it from all flesh meats. It is better for physical and mental soundness to refrain from living upon the flesh of animals. As far as possible we are to come back to God's original plan. From henceforth my table shall be free from the flesh of dead animals, and devoid of those things in desserts which take much time and strength to prepare. We may use fruit freely, and in different ways, and run no risk of incurring the diseases that are incurred by using the flesh of diseased animals. We should bring our appetite under control, so that we shall enjoy plain, wholesome food, and have an abundance of it, that none may suffer hunger.—Manuscript 25, 1894CD 488.2

    One Year After the Advance Step

    14. We have a large family, and besides have many guests, but neither meat nor butter is placed upon our table. We use the cream from the milk of the cows which we feed ourselves. We purchase butter for cooking purposes from dairies where the cows are in healthy condition, and have good pasture.—Letter 76, 1895CD 488.3

    Two Years After the Advance Step

    15. I have a large family which often numbers sixteen. In it there are men who work at the plow and who fell trees. These have most vigorous exercise, but not a particle of the flesh of animals is placed on our table. Meat has not been used by us since the Brighton camp meeting. It was not my purpose to have it on my table at any time, but urgent pleas were made that such a one was unable to eat this or that, and that his stomach could take care of meat better than it could anything else. Thus I was enticed to place it on my table....CD 488.4

    All who come to my table are welcome, but I place before them no meat. Grains, vegetables, and fresh and canned fruit constitute our table fare. At present we have plenty of the best oranges, and plenty of lemons. This is the only fresh fruit we can get at this season of the year....CD 489.1

    I have written this to give you some idea of how we live. I never enjoyed better health than I do at the present time, and never did more writing. I rise at three in the morning, and do not sleep during the day. I am often up at one o'clock, and when my mind is especially burdened, I rise at twelve o'clock to write out matter that has been urged upon my mind. I praise the Lord with heart and soul and voice for His great mercy toward me.—Letter 73a, 1896CD 489.2

    Moderate Use of Nut Foods

    16. We eat no meat or butter, and use very little milk in cooking. There is no fresh fruit at this season. We have a good yield of tomatoes, but our family think much of the nuts prepared in a variety of ways. We use one fifth as much as the recipe specifies.—Letter 73, 1899CD 489.3

    [Tomatoes Especially Good—523]

    An Adequate Diet—but No Meat

    17. When I was at Cooranbong, many that were great meat eaters came into my family, and when they would sit at my table, where not a particle of meat was served, they would say, “Well, if you have food like this, I could do without meat.” I think that our food satisfies our family. I tell our family, “Whatever you do, do not get a poverty-stricken diet. Place enough on the table to nourish the system. You must do this. You must invent and invent and study all the time, and get up the very best dishes you can, so as not to have a poverty-stricken diet.”—Manuscript 82, 1901CD 489.4

    Tea and Coffee

    18. I have not bought a penny's worth of tea for years. Knowing its influence, I would not dare to use it, except in cases of severe vomiting when I take it as a medicine, but not as a beverage....CD 490.1

    I am not guilty of drinking any tea except red-clover-top tea, and if I liked wine, tea, and coffee, I would not use these health-destroying narcotics, for I prize health and I prize a healthful example in all these things. I want to be a pattern of temperance and of good works to others.—Letter 12, 1888CD 490.2

    [Statement Regarding Diet in 1902-522]

    Simple Food

    19. My health is good. My appetite is excellent. I find that the simpler my food, and the fewer varieties I eat, the stronger I am.—Letter 150, 1903CD 490.3

    Following the Light in 1903

    20. In our family we have breakfast at half past six o'clock, and dinner at half past one. We have no supper. We would change our times of eating a little, were it not for the fact that these are the most convenient hours for some of the members of the family.CD 490.4

    I eat but two meals a day, and still follow the light given me thirty-five years ago. I use no meat. As for myself, I have settled the butter question. I do not use it. This question should easily be settled in every place where the purest article cannot be obtained. We have two good milch cows, a Jersey and a Holstein. We use cream, and all are satisfied with this.—Letter 45, 1903CD 490.5

    21. I am seventy-five years old; but I do as much writing as I ever did. My digestion is good, and my brain is clear.CD 490.6

    Our fare is simple and wholesome. We have on our table no butter, no meat, no cheese, no greasy mixtures of food. For some months a young man who was an unbeliever, and who had eaten meat all his life, boarded with us. We made no change in our diet on his account; and while he stayed with us he gained about twenty pounds. The food which we provided for him was far better for him than that to which he had been accustomed. All who sit at my table express themselves as being well satisfied with the food provided.—Letter 62, 1903CD 491.1

    The Family Not Bound With Rigid Rules

    22. I eat the most simple food, prepared in the most simple way. For months my principal diet has been vermicelli and canned tomatoes, cooked together. This I eat with zwieback. Then I have also stewed fruit of some kind and sometimes lemon pie. Dried corn, cooked with milk or a little cream, is another dish that I sometimes use.CD 491.2

    But the other members of my family do not eat the same things that I do. I do not hold myself up as a criterion for them. I leave each one to follow his own ideas as to what is best for him. I bind no one else's conscience by my own. One person cannot be a criterion for another in the matter of eating. It is impossible to make one rule for all to follow. There are those in my family who are very fond of beans, while to me beans are poison. Butter is never placed on my table, but if the members of my family choose to use a little butter away from the table, they are at liberty to do so. Our table is set twice a day, but if there are those who desire something to eat in the evening, there is no rule that forbids them from getting it. No one complains or goes from our table dissatisfied. A variety of food that is simple, wholesome, and palatable, is always provided.—Letter 127, 1904CD 491.3

    A Statement for Those Who Question Mrs. White's Manner of Eating

    23. It is reported by some that I have not lived up to the principles of health reform, as I have advocated them with my pen. But I can say that so far as my knowledge goes, I have not departed from those principles. Those who have eaten at my table know that I have not placed flesh meats before them....CD 491.4

    It is many years since I have had meat on my table at home. We never use tea or coffee. Occasionally I have used red-clover-blossom tea for a warm drink, but few of my family drink any fluid at our meals. The table is provided with cream instead of butter, even though we have company present. I have not used butter for many years.CD 492.1

    Yet we do not have an impoverished diet. We have an abundance of dried and canned fruit. If our own fruit crop is short, we buy some in the market. Sister Gray sends me the seedless grapes, and these stewed make a very appetizing dish. We raise our own loganberries, and use them freely. Strawberries do not grow well in this locality, but from our neighbors we purchase blackberries, raspberries, apples, and pears. We have also an abundance of tomatoes. We also raise a fine variety of sweet corn, and dry a large amount for use during the winter months. Near by us is a food factory, where we can supply ourselves with the grain preparations.CD 492.2

    [Use of Dried Corn and Peas—524]

    We endeavor to use good judgment in determining what combinations of food best agree with us. It is our duty to act wisely in regard to our habits of eating, to be temperate, and to learn to reason from cause to effect. If we will do our part, then the Lord will do His part in preserving our brain-nerve power.CD 492.3

    For more than forty years I have eaten but two meals a day. And if I have a specially important work to do, I limit the quantity of food that I take. I regard it as my duty to refuse to place in my stomach any food that I have reason to believe will create disorder. My mind must be sanctified to God, and I must guard carefully against any habit that would tend to lessen my powers of intellect.CD 492.4

    I am now in my eighty-first year, and I can bear testimony that we do not, as a family, hunger for the fleshpots of Egypt. I have known something of the benefits to be received by living up to the principles of health reform. I consider it a privilege as well as a duty to be a health reformer.CD 492.5

    Yet I am sorry that there are many of our people who do not strictly follow the light on health reform. Those who in their habit transgress the principles of health, and do not heed the light that the Lord has given them, will surely suffer the consequences.CD 493.1

    I write you these details, that you may know how to answer any who may question my manner of eating....CD 493.2

    I consider that one reason why I have been able to do so much work both in speaking and in writing, is because I am strictly temperate in my eating. If several varieties of food are placed before me, I endeavor to choose only those that I know will agree. Thus I am enabled to preserve clear mental faculties. I refuse to place in my stomach knowingly anything that will set up fermentation. This is the duty of all health reformers. We must reason from cause to effect. It is our duty to be temperate in all things.—Letter 50, 1908CD 493.3

    General Principles of Reform

    24. I have had great light from the Lord upon the subject of health reform. I did not seek this light; I did not study to obtain it; it was given to me by the Lord to give to others. I present these matters before the people, dwelling upon general principles, and sometimes, if questions are asked me at the table to which I have been invited, I answer according to the truth. But I have never made a raid upon any one in regard to the table or its contents. I would not consider such a course at all courteous or proper.—Manuscript 29, 1897CD 493.4

    Tolerance of Others

    25. I make myself a criterion for no one else. There are things that I cannot eat without suffering great distress. I try to learn that which is best for me, and then saying nothing to any one, I partake of the things that I can eat, which often are simply two or three varieties that will not create a disturbance in the stomach.—Letter 45, 1903CD 493.5

    26. There is a wide difference in constitutions and temperaments, and the demands of the system differ greatly in different persons. What would be food for one, might be poison for another; so precise rules cannot be laid down to fit every case. I cannot eat beans, for they are poison to me; but for me to say that for this reason no one must eat them would be simply ridiculous. I cannot eat a spoonful of milk gravy, or milk toast, without suffering in consequence; but other members of my family can eat these things, and realize no such effect; therefore I take that which suits my stomach best, and they do the same. We have no words, no contention; all moves along harmoniously in my large family, for I do not attempt to dictate what they shall or shall not eat.—Letter 19a, 1891CD 494.1

    “I Have Been a Faithful Health Reformer”

    27. When the message of health reform first came to me, I was weak and feeble, subject to frequent fainting spells. I was pleading with God for help, and He opened before me the great subject of health reform. He instructed me that those who are keeping His commandments must be brought into sacred relation to Himself, and that by temperance in eating and drinking they must keep mind and body in the most favorable condition for service. This light has been a great blessing to me. I took my stand as a health reformer, knowing that the Lord would strengthen me. I have better health today, notwithstanding my age, than I had in my younger days.CD 494.2

    It is reported by some that I have not followed the principles of health reform as I have advocated them with my pen; but I can say that I have been a faithful health reformer. Those who have been members of my family know that this is true.—Testimonies for the Church 9:158, 159, 1909CD 494.3

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