It was while teaching a church school in one of our large Southern cities that the truthfulness of a certain passage from the Spirit of prophecy was deeply impressed upon my mind. In this small community of Adventists where my association with the children was very close, and where I could not help becoming familiar with the home life of each child, there was brought forcibly to my mind the great need for a thorough knowledge of nutrition. The quotation reads:
"Health is an inestimable blessing, and one more closely related to conscience and religion than many realize. It has a great deal to do with one's capability for service, and should be as sacredly guarded as the character; for the more perfect the health, the more perfect will be our efforts for the advancement of God's cause and for the blessing of humanity. There is an important work to be done in our schools in teaching the youth the principles of health reform. . . . Youth is the time to lay up knowledge in those lines that can be pu into daily practice throughout the life. Youth is the time to establish good habits. . . Youth is the sowing time that determines the harvest of this life and the life beyond the grave."—Counsels to Teachers, pp. 294, 295.
The children were the thermometers, as it were, of the homes. From the homes where mothers spent little thought upon their children came my behavior and discipline problems. The lunches brought by these children were an indication of their daily diet. One lunch I particularly remember, consisted of cold potato-pancake sandwiches. Others were similar. How could such lunches and diets build strong bodies, calm nerves, well-balanced minds? To me it was clear that they could not. It was also clear that in order to combat such conditions, one must have a thorough knowledge of the relation that exists between diet and health.
As time has gone on and I have worked in the field of nutrition, the bearing that an individual's dietary and health habits exert upon his behavior has been impressed more forcibly upon my mind. The need for a knowledge of good dietary habits among the people of our denomination, well as of the world, seems greater than ever as my horizon has widened from one little church school to the masses.
Such a statement as the following surely presents a challenge to us. Are we ready to meet it? "As we near the close of time, we must rise higher and still higher upon the question of health reform and Christian temperance, presenting it in a more positive and decided manner."—Counsels on Health, p. 467.
Today science is corroborating the health principles which have so long been a part of our program. Quoting from a nutrition magazine: "Modern knowledge of nutrition can build a better and stronger race, with greater resistance to disease, a longer life span, and increased mental powers. Our job today is to bring these facts home to our entire population forcefully enough to make people listen and act."
If a job such as this presents itself to our nation, should it not also become a part of our denominational program? Should we not as health workers bend every effort to follow the health rules ourselves, and then teach, direct, and guide others to do likewise?
Although dietetics is the youngest profession in the medical work, it should by no means be the least. For many years the dietitian spent most of her time in properly feeding the sick, seeking to guide them back to health; but as time has gone by, her field has widened so that today her services are sought not only in hospitals but in health clinics, educational programs, schools, and industrial plants.
No one is better equipped to give instruction concerning nutrition than the dietitian. She can help low-income groups to plan their diet to the best advantage. She can help those who omit meat from its place. She can plan the diet for the growing child and the future mother. She can teach the family how to cook their foods so as to conserve the vitamins and minerals so essential to well-being.
Especially should the dietitian, by precept and example, lead those whom she is teaching to a thor-ough knowledge of our health principles, not only in diet, but in other ways as well. As one author has put it: "In the physiological sciences experts may discover and point the way, but it takes education and the will to change habits if we are to benefit from recent scientific knowledge of nutrition."
This then is our problem: We must stimulate our people, and especially the youth, to want to live in harmony with the laws of health. We must give them the right kind of information, and then we must help them make the application.
"Educate, educate, educate," should be the slogan of every health worker. Eternal vigilance should be the watchword. So let all who are working for the uplifting of mankind redouble their efforts a greater dissemination of our health principles, not only in theory but in practice. Let us be such leaders that none who follow our example will go astray.