Vocalized overdevelopment of any member of the human body is an unfortunate occurrence. Likewise, over-emphasis of any single feature of the healthful-living program distorts and gives to the message an imbalance that is unfortunate. And thus authentic health principles are sometimes presented in a way that gives rise to prejudice and false opinions.
I am impressed not only by the scientific soundness of the principles of hygienic living as taught in the Spirit of prophecy, but also by the cautions given against extreme and narrow views. Fanaticism is never taught in this instruction to the church, but is injected by enthusiasts who, by their teaching, violate the very principles set forth in the Testimonies. The diet reform has gone through periods in which obviously the zeal and enthusiasm of some advocates of reform were ill-advised and their practices deleterious. The majority of our readers have at least heard of some of the fads that have marked periods of the past; for example, the graham-mush and peanut-butter eras. From my study of Testimony counsels on diet and foods, I am unable to find in them any justifiable basis for these or similar rather extreme positions held in temporary popularity.
I am confident that had it not been for the wise counsel of the Spirit of prophecy and the balance and conservatism given thereby to the health reform message, many fanatical views and fanciful notions would have come in to, confuse and embarrass the church. The following quotation is a case in point, illustrating the way in which caution was given against perverted ideas and overemphasis of a single feature:
"Many have misinterpreted health reform and have received oerverted ideas as to what constitutes right living. Some honestly think that a proper dietary consists largely of porridge. To eat largely of porridge would not ensure health to the digestive organs, because it is too much like a liquid."—Youth's Instructor, May 3, 1894.
Note likewise the wholesome moderation that was urged in respect to the use of nuts:
"I have been instructed that the nut foods are often used unwisely, that too large a proportion of nuts is used, that some nuts are not as wholesome as others. Almonds are preferable to peanuts; but peanuts, in limited quantities, may be used in connection with grains to make nourishing and digestible food."—"Testimonies," Vol. VII, p. 134.
The Spirit of prophecy plainly teaches that where an ample supply and variety of foodstuffs is available, it is more healthful to abstain from eating flesh food. The dangers arising from meats are specifically given and warnings as to the moral effects of a flesh diet are clearly set forth. There is a tendency in some quarters, however, to make the matter of a vegetarian dietary the sole feature of the health reform program. Individuals not infrequently state that they are strict health reformers, and give the one reason as conclusive proof of their claim, that they have not eaten meat for a certain number of years.
It should be pointed out, however, that a person, while abstaining from all flesh food, may at the same time be grossly violating other principles of hygienic reform. It is a matter of, This we ought to do, and not to leave the other undone. The principles of healthful living are broad, balanced, practical, and authentic. In a single sentence in "Ministry of Healing" we find many of the basic principles of hygiene that make for health and the wellbeing of the whole man—mind, body, and soul: "Pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in divine power,—these are the true remedies." —Page 127. Not one of these is to be discarded as of little worth.
No single feature of hygienic reform is to be made sufficiently prominent to eclipse all other factors. The servant of the Lord urged sound, comprehensive principles that are to be thoroughly studied, heartily received, and intelligently observed.
"In order to preserve health, temperance in all things is necessary,—temperance in labor, temperance in eating and drinking. Our heavenly Father sent the light of health reform to guard against the evils resulting from a debased appetite, that those who love purity and holiness may know how to use with discretion the good things He has provided for them, and that by exercising temperance in early life, they may be sanctified through the truth."—"Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene," p. 52.
H. M. W.