Important was the work of Samson that his mother was given complete dietetic instruction before the birth of the child. "Neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe." Judges 13 :P4. Daniel and his companions, although young, had seen the injurious effects of wine and luxurious living upon physical and mental health. And he "purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank." "The Lord regarded with approval the firmness and self-denial of these Hebrew youth, and His blessing attended them."—Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 31.
The parents of John the Baptist were instructed by the angel Gabriel, direct from heaven, upon health reform. They were told that "he should not drink wine or strong drink, and that he should be filled with the Holy Ghost from his birth."—Ibid., p. 71.
And of our Saviour it was prophesied, "Butter and honey shall He eat, that He may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good." Isa. 7:15. If a simple diet was essential for Christ, the perfect One, how can we hope to overcome evil without self-control in eating? "The Redeemer of the world knew that the indulgence of appetite would bring physical debility, and so deaden the perceptive organs that sacred and eternal things would not be discerned."—Ibid., p. 186.
God has given us very definite instruction on the principles of diet. Had we always followed this instruction we would have made greater progress in our spiritual development. As we study into the principles of healthful living, we see that they include much more than abstaining from certain harmful substances such as tobacco, tea, coffee, liquor, and unclean meats.
How often do you eat during the day ? Physiologists tell us that under circumstances of relative well-being and emotional security an ordinary well-balanced meal will remain in the stomach from five to six hours. This time is prolonged by increasing the fat in the meal or by the ingestion of large quantities of complicated mixtures of foods. The statement in the Spirit of prophecy that "at least five or six hours should intervene between meals" has been amply vindicated by scientific study.
Do you eat too rapidly? This is probably one of the most common dietetic errors. "In order to secure healthy digestion, food should be eaten slowly. Those who wish to avoid dyspepsia . . . will do well to remember this."—Ibid., p. 107.
How much time do you allow for your meals? Mastication is the first step in preparing the food for use by the body. It is a mechanism over which we have very definite control. How important it is that we take time to perform this task efficiently, because if we do not the whole body will suffer sooner or later. Mastication serves the double purpose of breaking up the coarser particles of food and mixing it with the saliva. The extent of starch digestion in the mouth is determined by the degree of saliva that is mixed with the food.
The following statement by Max Einhorn, M.D., it is safe to say, could be substantiated by many practicing physicians. "Every physician has observed cases of gastric and intestinal catarrh, hyperchlorhydria (excess acid in the stomach) and other tedious digestive disturbances, the etiological factors of which could be found in existing tachyphagia [rapid eating]."
Were you happy today as you ate your meals? Or were you sad, worried, and anxious? We have all experienced the fact that emotional attitudes affect digestion. Fear, sadness, and worry depress the gastric functions. "Fear prolongs the emptying time of the stomach by at least one hour. Anxiety and resentment hasten the emptying, but decrease the acidity of the stomach."—WOLF AND WOLF, Human Gastric Function, p. 139.
Those who are excited or anxious would do well not to eat until they have found relief, "for the vital powers already severely taxed, cannot supply the necessary digestive fluids."—Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 107.
Do you eat when tired? Physical fatigue as well as adverse mental condition can interfere with the process of digestion. "Another serious evil is eating at improper times, as after violent or excessive exercise, when one is much exhausted or heated."—Ibid., p. 109. This truth is also borne out by physiologists and physicians who state that meals are best taken when the body is at rest.
Do you indulge excessively in sweets?
Sweets are irritating to the delicate lining of the stomach, and pave the way for digestive upsets. Some who pride themselves on not using sugar on cereals or refraining from patronizing the candy dish too frequently, indulge in quantities of soft drinks, especially during the summer months. It may not be known that a sweetened carbonated beverage contains two-thirds of an ounce of sugar (approximately 2 tablespoons). It is inconsistent to think oneself virtuous by refusing sugar or a piece of candy only to take the equivalent or more in each carbonated drink. "Sugar is not good for the stomach. It causes fermentation, and this clouds the brain and brings peevishness into the disposition."—Ibid., p. 327.
Do you overeat? Heading the list of mistakes in eating is that of overeating. It is well to remember that a sense of satiety can be quite as valuable as the sense of hunger. "A common cause of indigestion is overloading the stomach."—F. L. MEREDITH, M.D., The Science of Health, p. 63.
"The alarming increase of degenerative diseases which affect the vital organs—the heart, blood vessels, liver, pancreas, and kidneys—has been found to be generally due to over-eating."—Hygeia, March, 1946.
"There is no greater fallacy than the idea that a man or woman can eat as if finishing himself or herself for a live-stock market, and at the same time realize many of the worth-while things of life."— MCCOLLUM AND SIM M ONDS, Food, Nutrition, and Health, p. 116.
Studies in digestion have shown that a normal individual usually can digest a certain substance within a certain time. But if the quantity of that substance is increased, the digestion time will be prolonged, sometimes as much as two hours. ( REHFUSS, Indigestion, Its Diagnosis and Management, p. 175.)
"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."—Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 103.
If it is not overeating it may be eating at the wrong time, eating the wrong kinds of food, or some other bad habit, but in one way or another we all violate the laws of health and life, and invariably we pay the penalty. For a number of years medical and scientific literature has been filled with the results of experiments on how the kind and amount of food eaten affects the health and well-being of the individual.
Dr. Tom Spies of the Nutrition Clinic, Birmingham, Alabama, reports success in rehabilitating workers to industry through dietary treatment. (Medical Clinics of North America, May, 1945, pp. 794-806.) Other nutritional workers have found that the learning ability of children is higher when the diet is adequate. (American Journal of Medical Science, November, 1944, P. 631.) At the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, a group of women were given an inadequate diet, but similar to that eaten by many American families. After a number of weeks the women all became depressed, irritable, quarrelsome, and fearful. Their disposition was restored to normal again after some weeks of a diet adequate in all nutrition factors. (E. N. TODH UNTER, Everyday Nutrition for School Children.) Food does made a difference.
"The body is a most important medium through which the mind and the soul are developed for the upbuilding of character."—Prophets and Kings, p. 488.
"Hence it is that the adversary of souls directs his temptations to the enfeebling and degrading of the physical powers. His success here often means the surrender of the whole being to evil."—Prophets and Kings, p. 488.
As Jesus was first tempted where Adam failed, so will every one of His followers be tempted to disregard the laws of health. This is one of the strongest temptations that man has to meet. Satan endeavors to ensnare every individual through the channel of hereditary weakness. (See Counsels on Diet and Foods, pp. 16, 40.) God has given us great light, and if we walk in that light, then will our minds be clear to understand His will concerning us.