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Diet - The Daily Ration

( Originally Published 1904 )

The general idea has been given of the kinds of food which should go to make up a meal. That forms the diet. The quantity of those which should go to make up a daily supply forms the ration. This daily supply of food goes to satisfy two wants. First, the need of a certain number of materials to repair the loss of tissues, and, second, the need of a certain supply of force, or energy.

In the choice of a daily ration, one must know the conditions of life of those for whom it is prescribed. The social conditions which affect it are very complex. There is a very marked difference between the condition of life of a la-borer, and one of the leisure class, or one of a sedentary occupation. In the case of a- laborer, there is need of a greater supply of food to re-pair the waste of the tissues through muscular exercise, and also of those foods which will sup-ply the necessary force for the daily work.

The influence of climate demands that the supply of fat be increased during cold weather, and correspondingly diminished in hot weather. Dr. Kane, the Arctic explorer, tells us that an Esquimau will drink ten or twelve gallons of train-oil a day. Inhabitants of the tropical regions, on the contrary, are known to live upon fruits all the year around. Heat is the great essential in cold weather, and that is best sup-plied by fats and carbonaceous matter. In warm countries man must see to it that the food is not too heating. We, too, must see to it in our own climate that the proper balance is maintained in winter and summer. In winter we need a liberal diet of meat, butter, potatoes, sugar, and similar food, while in summer these are to be avoided. Neglect to properly adjust the food to the varying seasons is a prolific cause of indigestion and other ailments.

Another essential factor to be observed in . choosing food is its digestibility. And this is a rather difficult point to decide upon, for there is no relation between the nutritive qualities of a food and its digestibility. Still another difficulty in estimating the digestibility of food, is the fact that so much more depends upon the condition of health of the consumer, than upon the food itself. A young person of good health, and taking plenty of exercise, is able to digest almost any food. But young children whose constitutions are forming, sick persons, and those of a sedentary life are very much harder to cater to. In speaking of sedentary occupation, we must discriminate between those who do a great deal of brain work -Ind those who do not. The diet of students should be very liberal. Labor of the brain is much more exhausting to, the system than is muscular labor. Therefore it is not right to hastily conclude that because a person does not perform much muscular labor, he does not require so much or such nourishing food as a laborer does. It is said that three hours of hard study exhausts the system and causes more waste of tissue than a whole day of manual labor. The only way in which this waste of tissue can be supplied is by means of proper food. In general, it may be said that the greatest amount of nourishment is to be derived from partaking of the sort of food that one likes best, and that in the pleasantest surroundings possible.

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