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Counsels on Diet and Foods

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    Chapter 5—Physiology of Digestion

    The Reward of Respecting Nature's Laws

    153. Respect paid to the proper treatment of the stomach will be rewarded in clearness of thought and strength of mind. Your digestive organs will not be prematurely worn out to testify against you. We are to show that we appreciate our God-given intelligence by eating and studying and working wisely. A sacred duty devolves upon us to keep the body in such a state that we shall have a sweet, clean breath. We are to appreciate the light God has given on health reform, by word and practice reflecting clear light to others upon this subject.—Letter 274, 1908CD 101.1

    Physical Effects of Overeating

    154. What influence does overeating have upon the stomach? It becomes debilitated, the digestive organs are weakened, and disease, with all its train of evils, is brought on as the result. If persons were diseased before, they thus increase the difficulties upon them, and lessen their vitality every day they live. They call their vital powers into unnecessary action to take care of the food that they place in their stomachs.—Testimonies for the Church 2:364, 1870CD 101.2

    155. Often this intemperance is felt at once in the form of headache, indigestion, and colic. A load has been placed upon the stomach that it cannot care for, and a feeling of oppression comes. The head is confused, the stomach is in rebellion. But these results do not always follow overeating. In some cases the stomach is paralyzed. No sensation of pain is felt, but the digestive organs lose their vital force. The foundation of the human machinery is gradually undermined, and life is rendered very unpleasant.—Letter 73a, 1896CD 101.3

    156. I advise you to make your diet abstemious. Be sure that as a rational Christian sentinel you guard the door of your stomach, allowing nothing to pass your lips that will be an enemy to your health and life. God holds you responsible to obey the light He has given you on health reform. The rush of blood to the head must be overcome. There are large blood vessels in the limbs for the purpose of distributing the life-giving current to all parts of the body. The fire you kindle in your stomach is making your brain like a heated furnace. Eat much more sparingly, and eat simple food, which does not require heavy seasoning. Your animal passions should be starved, not pampered and fed. The congestion of blood in the brain is strengthening the animal instincts and weakening spiritual powers....CD 102.1

    What you need is less temporal food and much more spiritual food, more of the bread of life. The simpler your diet, the better it will be for you.—Letter 142, 1900CD 102.2

    Clogs the Machinery

    157. My brother, you have much to learn. You indulge your appetite by eating more food than your system can convert into good blood. It is sin to be intemperate in the quantity of food eaten, even if the quality is unobjectionable. Many feel that if they do not eat meat and the grosser articles of food, they may eat of simple food until they cannot well eat more. This is a mistake. 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. Overeating, even of the simplest food, benumbs the sensitive nerves of the brain, and weakens its vitality. Overeating has a worse effect upon the system than overworking; the energies of the soul are more effectually prostrated by intemperate eating than by intemperate working.CD 102.3

    The digestive organs should never be burdened with a quantity or quality of food which it will tax the system to appropriate. All that is taken into the stomach, above what the system can use to convert into good blood, clogs the machinery; for it cannot be made into either flesh or blood, and its presence burdens the liver, and produces a morbid condition of the system. The stomach is overworked in its efforts to dispose of it, and then there is a sense of languor, which is interpreted to mean hunger, and without allowing the digestive organs time to rest from their severe labor, to recruit their energies, another immoderate amount is taken into the stomach, to set the weary machinery again in motion. The system receives less nourishment from too great a quantity of food, even of the right quality, than from a moderate quantity taken at regular periods.—Testimonies for the Church 2:412, 413, 1870CD 103.1

    Digestion Aided By Moderate Exercise

    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. Neither study nor violent exercise should be engaged in immediately after a full meal; this would be a violation of the laws of the system. Immediately after eating there is a strong draft upon the nervous energy. The brain force is called into active exercise to assist the stomach; therefore, when the mind or body is taxed heavily after eating, the process of digestion is hindered. The vitality of the system, which is needed to carry on the work in one direction, is called away and set to work in another.CD 103.2

    158. Exercise aids the dyspeptic by giving the digestive organs a healthy tone. To engage in deep study or violent exercise immediately after eating, hinders the digestive process; for the vitality of the system, which is needed to carry on the work of digestion, is called away to other parts. But a short walk after a meal, with the head erect and the shoulders back, exercising moderately, is a great benefit. The mind is diverted from self to the beauties of nature. The less the attention is called to the stomach, the better. If you are in constant fear that your food will hurt you, it most assuredly will. Forget your troubles; think of something cheerful.—Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 101, 1890CD 103.3

    [Overeating Causes Excess Flow of Blood to the Brain—276]

    [Exercise Especially Needful to Those of Sluggish Temperament—225]

    [Disturbed Sleep Resulting from Late Suppers—270]

    [The Cause of that Faint Feeling—213, 218, 245, 269, 270, 561, 705, 707]

    [Indulgence Weakens Digestive Organs and Lessens Power to Assimilate—202]

    [The Stomach Needs Quiet Rest—267]

    Aided by Pure Air

    159. 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.—Testimonies for the Church 1:702, 1868CD 104.1

    160. The lungs should be allowed the greatest freedom possible. Their capacity is developed by free action; it diminishes if they are cramped and compressed. Hence the ill effects of the practice so common, especially in sedentary pursuits, of stooping at one's work. In this position it is impossible to breathe deeply. Superficial breathing soon becomes a habit, and the lungs lose their power to expand. A similar effect is produced by tight lacing....CD 104.2

    Thus an insufficient supply of oxygen is received. The blood moves sluggishly. The waste, poisonous matter, which should be thrown off in the exhalations from the lungs, is retained, and the blood becomes impure. Not only the lungs, but the stomach, liver, and brain are affected. The skin becomes sallow, digestion is retarded; the heart is depressed; the brain is clouded; the thoughts are confused; gloom settles upon the spirits; the whole system becomes depressed and inactive, and peculiarly susceptible to disease.—The Ministry of Healing, 272, 273, 1905CD 104.3

    Hindered by Liquid Diet

    161. Had your physical health been unimpaired, you would have made an eminently useful woman. You have long been diseased, and this has affected your imagination so that your thoughts have been concentrated upon yourself, and the imagination has affected the body. Your habits have not been good in many respects. Your food has not been of the right quantity or quality. You have eaten too largely, and of a poor quality of food, which could not be converted into good blood. You have educated the stomach to this kind of diet. This, your judgment has taught you, was the best, because you realized the least disturbance from it. But this was not a correct experience. Your stomach was not receiving that vigor that it should from your food. Taken in a liquid state, your food would not give healthful vigor or tone to the system. But when you change this habit, and eat more solids and less liquids, your stomach will feel disturbed. Notwithstanding this, you should not yield the point; you should educate your stomach to bear a more solid diet.—Testimonies for the Church 3:74, 1872CD 105.1

    162. I told them that the preparation of their food was wrong, and that living principally on soups and coffee and bread was not health reform; that so much liquid taken into the stomach was not healthful, and that all who subsisted on such a diet placed a great tax upon the kidneys, and so much watery substance debilitated the stomach.CD 105.2

    I was thoroughly convinced that many in the establishment were suffering with indigestion because of eating this kind of food. The digestive organs were enfeebled and the blood impoverished. Their breakfast consisted of coffee and bread with the addition of prune sauce. This was not healthful. The stomach, after rest and sleep, was better able to take care of a substantial meal than when wearied with work. Then the noon meal was generally soup, sometimes meat. The stomach is small, but the appetite, unsatisfied, partakes largely of this liquid food; so it is burdened.—Letter 9, 1887CD 105.3

    [Fruit Will Allay the Irritation That Calls for So Much Drink at Meals—475]

    Food to Be Warm, but Not Hot

    163. I would advise all to take something warm into the stomach, every morning at least. You can do this without much labor.—Testimonies for the Church 2:603, 1870CD 106.1

    164. Hot drinks are not required, except as a medicine. The stomach is greatly injured by a large quantity of hot food and hot drink. Thus the throat and digestive organs, and through them the other organs of the body, are enfeebled.—Letter 14, 1901CD 106.2

    Vital Force Depleted by Cold Food

    165. Food should not be eaten very hot or very cold. If food is cold, the vital force of the stomach is drawn upon in order to warm it before digestion can take place. Cold drinks are injurious for the same reason; while the free use of hot drinks is debilitating.—The Ministry of Healing, 305, 1905CD 106.3

    [Vitality Drawn upon in Warming Much Cold Food in Stomach—124]

    166. Many make a mistake in drinking cold water with their meals. Food should not be washed down. Taken with meals, water diminishes the flow of saliva; and the colder the water, the greater the injury to the stomach. Ice water or ice lemonade, taken with meals, will arrest digestion until the system has imparted sufficient warmth to the stomach to enable it to take up its work again. Masticate slowly, and allow the saliva to mingle with the food.CD 106.4

    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.—[Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 51] Counsels on Health, 119, 120, 1890CD 106.5

    [Drinking Water with Meals—731]

    A Caution to Busy People

    167. I am instructed to say to the workers in our sanitariums and to the teachers and students in our schools that there is need of guarding ourselves upon the point of appetite. There is danger of becoming lax in this respect, and of letting our individual cares and responsibilities so absorb our time that we shall not take time to eat as we should. My message to you is, Take time to eat, and do not crowd into the stomach a great variety of foods at one meal. To eat hurriedly of several kinds of food at a meal is a serious mistake.—Letter 274, 1908.CD 107.1

    Eat Slowly, Masticate Thoroughly

    168. 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.—[Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 51, 52] Counsels on Health, 120, 1890CD 107.2

    169. Food should be eaten slowly, and should be thoroughly masticated. This is necessary, in order that the saliva may be properly mixed with the food, and the digestive fluids be called into action.—The Ministry of Healing, 305, 1905CD 107.3

    A Lesson to Be Repeated

    170. If we would work for the restoration of health, it is necessary to restrain the appetite, to eat slowly, and only a limited variety at one meal. This instruction needs to be repeated frequently. It is not in harmony with the principles of health reform to have so many different dishes at one meal.—Letter 27, 1905CD 107.4

    171. Great care should be taken when the change is made from a flesh meat to a vegetarian diet to supply the table with wisely prepared, well-cooked articles of food. So much porridge eating is a mistake. The dry food that requires mastication is far preferable. The health food preparations are a blessing in this respect. Good brown bread and rolls, prepared in a simple manner yet with painstaking effort, will be healthful. Bread should never have the slightest taint of sourness. It should be cooked until it is most thoroughly done. Thus all softness and stickiness will be avoided.CD 108.1

    For those who can use them, good vegetables, prepared in a healthful manner, are better than soft mushes or porridge. Fruits used with thoroughly cooked bread two or three days old will be more healthful than fresh bread. This, with slow and thorough mastication, will furnish all that the system requires.—Manuscript 3, 1897CD 108.2

    172. To make rolls, use soft water and milk, or a little cream; make a stiff dough, and knead it as for crackers. Bake on the grate of the oven. These are sweet and delicious. They require thorough mastication, which is a benefit both to the teeth and to the stomach. They make good blood, and impart strength.—The Review and Herald, May 8, 1883CD 108.3

    Avoid Undue Anxiety

    173. It is impossible to prescribe by weight the quantity of food which should be eaten. It is not advisable to follow this process, for by so doing the mind becomes self-centered. Eating and drinking become altogether too much a matter of thought.... There are many who have carried a heavy weight of responsibility as to the quantity and quality of food best adapted to nourish the system. Some, especially dyspeptics, have worried so much in regard to their bill of fare that they have not taken sufficient food to nourish the system. They have done great injury to the house they live in, and we fear have spoiled themselves for this life.—Letter 142, 1900CD 108.4

    174. Some are continually anxious lest their food, however simple and healthful, may hurt them. To these let me say: Do not think that your food will injure you; do not think about it at all. Eat according to your best judgment; and when you have asked the Lord to bless the food for the strengthening of your body, believe that He hears your prayer, and be at rest.—The Ministry of Healing, 321, 1905CD 109.1

    [Extremes in Prescribing Exact Number and Quantity of Foods—317]

    175. Another serious evil is eating at improper times, as after violent or excessive exercise, when one is much exhausted or heated. Immediately after eating there is a strong draft upon the nervous energies; and when mind or body is heavily taxed just before or just after eating, digestion is hindered. When one is excited, anxious, or hurried, it is better not to eat until rest or relief is found.CD 109.2

    The stomach is closely related to the brain; and when the stomach is diseased, the nerve power is called from the brain to the aid of the weakened digestive organs. When these demands are too frequent, the brain becomes congested. When the brain is constantly taxed, and there is lack of physical exercise, even plain food should be eaten sparingly. At mealtime cast off care and anxious thought; do not feel hurried, but eat slowly and with cheerfulness, with your heart filled with gratitude to God for all His blessings.—The Ministry of Healing, 306, 1905CD 109.3

    Combination of Foods

    176. Knowledge in regard to proper food combinations is of great worth, and is to be received as wisdom from God.—Letter 213, 1902CD 109.4

    177. 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.—The Review and Herald, July 29, 1884CD 109.5

    178. There should not be many kinds at any one meal, but all meals should not be composed of the same kinds of food without variation. Food should be prepared with simplicity, yet with a nicety which will invite the appetite.—Testimonies for the Church 2:63, 1868CD 110.1

    179. It would be much better to eat only two or three different kinds of food at a meal than to load the stomach with many varieties.—Letter 73a, 1896CD 110.2

    180. Many are made sick by the indulgence of their appetite.... So many varieties are introduced into the stomach that fermentation is the result. This condition brings on acute disease, and death frequently follows.—Manuscript 86, 1897CD 110.3

    181. The variety of food at one meal causes unpleasantness, and destroys the good which each article, if taken alone, would do the system. This practice causes constant suffering, and often death.—Letter 54, 1896CD 110.4

    182. If your work is sedentary, take exercise every day, and at each meal eat only two or three kinds of simple food, taking no more of these than will satisfy the demands of hunger.—Letter 73a, 1896CD 110.5

    [Further Suggestions to Sedentary Workers—225]

    183. Disturbance is created by improper combinations of food; fermentation sets in; the blood is contaminated and the brain confused.CD 110.6

    The habit of overeating, or of eating too many kinds of food at one meal, frequently causes dyspepsia. Serious injury is thus done to the delicate digestive organs. In vain the stomach protests, and appeals to the brain to reason from cause to effect. The excessive amount of food eaten, or the improper combination, does its injurious work. In vain do disagreeable premonitions give warning. Suffering is the consequence. Disease takes the place of health.—Testimonies for the Church 7:257, 1902CD 110.7

    War in the Stomach

    184. Another cause, both of ill health and of inefficiency in labor, is indigestion. It is impossible for the brain to do its best work when the digestive powers are abused. Many eat hurriedly of various kinds of food, which set up a war in the stomach, and thus confuse the brain.—Gospel Workers, 174, 1892 (old edition)CD 111.1

    185. It is not well to take a great variety of foods at one meal. When fruit and bread, together with a variety of other foods that do not agree, are crowded into the stomach at one meal, what can we expect but that a disturbance will be created?—Manuscript 3, 1897CD 111.2

    186. Many eat too rapidly. Others eat at one meal food which does not agree. If men and women would only remember how greatly they afflict the soul when they afflict the stomach, and how deeply Christ is dishonored when the stomach is abused, they would be brave and self-denying, giving the stomach opportunity to recover its healthy action. While sitting at the table we may do medical missionary work by eating and drinking to the glory of God.—Manuscript 93, 1901CD 111.3

    Peaceful Stomachs and Peaceful Dispositions

    187. We must care for the digestive organs, and not force upon them a great variety of food. He who gorges himself with many kinds of food at a meal is doing himself injury. It is more important that we eat that which will agree with us than that we taste of every dish that may be placed before us. There is no door in our stomach by which we can look in and see what is going on; so we must use our mind, and reason from cause to effect. If you feel all wrought up, and everything seems to go wrong, perhaps it is because you are suffering the consequences of eating a great variety of food.CD 111.4

    The digestive organs have an important part to act in our life happiness. God has given us intelligence, that we may learn what we should use as food. Shall we not, as sensible men and women, study whether the things we eat will be in agreement, or whether they will cause trouble? People who have a sour stomach are very often of a sour disposition. Everything seems to be contrary to them, and they are inclined to be peevish and irritable. If we would have peace among ourselves, we should give more thought than we do to having a peaceful stomach.—Manuscript 41, 1908CD 112.1

    [Harmful Effects of Too Great Variety of Food and Wrong Combinations 141, 225, 226, 227, 264, 387, 546, 551, 722]

    [Combination of Many Foods in Our Restaurants—415]

    [Care in Food Combination for the Sick—441, 467]

    [E. G. White careful in her food combinations—Appendix 1:19, 23, 25]

    Fruits and Vegetables

    188. There should not be a great variety at any one meal, for this encourages overeating, and causes indigestion.CD 112.2

    It is not well to eat fruit and vegetables at the same meal. If the digestion is feeble, the use of both will often cause distress, and inability to put forth mental effort. It is better to have the fruit at one meal, and the vegetables at another.CD 112.3

    The meals should be varied. The same dishes, prepared in the same way, should not appear on the table meal after meal and day after day. The meals are eaten with greater relish, and the system is better nourished, when the food is varied.—The Ministry of Healing, 299, 300, 1905CD 112.4

    Rich Desserts and Vegetables

    189. Puddings, custards, sweet cake, and vegetables, all served at the same meal, will cause a disturbance in the stomach.—Letter 142, 1900CD 112.5

    190. You need to keep in your house the very best kind of help for the work of preparing your food. In the night seasons, it seemed that Elder ----- was taken sick, and an experienced physician said to you, “I took notice of your diet. You eat too great a variety at one meal. Fruit and vegetables taken at one meal produce acidity of the stomach; then impurity of the blood results, and the mind is not clear because the digestion is imperfect.” 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.—Letter 312, 1908CD 112.6

    Sugar and Milk

    191. Far too much sugar is ordinarily used in food. Cakes, sweet puddings, pastries, jellies, jams, are active causes of indigestion. Especially harmful are the custards and puddings in which milk, eggs, and sugar are the chief ingredients. The free use of milk and sugar taken together should be avoided.—The Ministry of Healing, 302, 1905CD 113.1

    192. Some use milk and a large amount of sugar on mush, thinking that they are carrying out health reform. But the sugar and the milk combined are liable to cause fermentation in the stomach, and are thus harmful.—[Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 57] Counsels on Health, 154, 1890CD 113.2

    [See Milk And Sugar—533, 534, 535, 536]

    Rich and Complicated Mixtures

    193. The less that condiments and desserts are placed upon our tables, the better it will be for all who partake of the food. All mixed and complicated foods are injurious to the health of human beings. Dumb animals would never eat such a mixture as is often placed in the human stomach....CD 113.3

    The richness of food and complicated mixtures of food are health destroying.—Letter 72, 1896CD 113.4

    [Rich Foods and Variety of Dishes Not Best for Camp Meeting Diet—74]

    [Combination of Spiced Meat, Rich Cakes and Pies—673]

    [See Section XIX, “Desserts”]

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