When Do We Eat?
( Originally Published 1930's )
The question of when to eat has never been a controversial one. It seems as though some fellow, way back when, became hungry about every six hours, and, being an early riser, he decided that six, twelve, and six just about fitted his needs. So, we have breakfast and dinner and supper. A few people have made some changes in the hour for one or another of these meals, but the vast majority of people follow the set rule of going to their meals when a certain hour arrives. It makes no difference whether one is hungry or not.
There is just about as much reason to a set and certain time of eating as there is in the manner in which we built our roads. A long time ago a calf became lost in the woods and was forced to wind around while trying to reach its mother by the sound of the cow bell. A pioneer drove his ox cart over the calf trail and then, the commissioners stoned the calf trail. In the horse and buggy days these same commissioners made even better roads over the same winding trail. When the automobile came into use, the commissioners paved these roads. Finally, it dawned upon some man who was elected to an official capacity that it would be well to straighten the dangerous curves which the calf made. Somewhat senseless don't you think, to wait until it costs the most to tear up a good pavement instead of straightening the road before it was paved ?
There is just about as much sense in going to meals when the clock says, six, twelve, and six. Yet, the only change that has ever been made is that some people go to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And most people will not take the dangerous curves out of the road to meals until they have an accident; an accident caused by eating every six hours whether we need it, or want it, or not. This set and staid rule of eating on the hour has caused half the digestive misery suffered by the human race.
Animals, unrestricted, eat when they are hungry. That is what man should do. Most animals live five times the period of years beyond their maturity. An animal maturing at two or three years will live until ten or fifteen years old. Man matures at twenty-one and should live to be one hundred and five years old or more. The only reason, barring accident, that man does not live to this age is because he does not eat right, either in the time of eating, or the selection of his food.
The person who eats when not hungry, or when worried, or when in a hurry, can not handle food through its proper digestive channels, especially, those who do light work or none at all. The only person who can eat every six hours and get away with it is the man who does hard labor. He burns it up.
The sick should not eat, if they feel the food offered does not appeal. Even the dog refuses to eat if not well. Yet, when the human animal falls ill, relative and friend moves heaven and earth to find something nice and gooey and hard to digest for the sick to eat. Don't do it. A light soup and some fruit juices and, perhaps a little milk is sufficient until desire takes over.
Eat when you are hungry, and plentifully. Nature has provided a very effective means of disposing of excess food. However, nature is not prepared to handle food when it is not wanted. The digestive messengers, digestive juices, and the whole digestive laboratory rests when ever the body does not require their service. A sense of hunger awakens your digestive servants. When they awaken, rested, they are ready for work. Eating when you are not hungry inhibits digestion.
Some people have the fallacious idea that they get indigestion because they are forced to change their time of eating. The man, who works days, is sure his indigestion is caused by changing to night work, and vice versa. However, this excuse is only used by the bellyacher who has been eating wrongly. The lack of tart food and vegetables has got him.
It matters not whether you eat at two o'clock in the afternoon, or two o'clock in the morning, if you are hungry. Your digestive juices are ready when you are. They exude even before you eat if you feel hungry; just like the mouth of the, Negro boy waters when you say, "watermelon", whether the season be January or July.
The snack at midnight is more welcome to the non-bellyacher than the noonday meal to the individual who eats wrong; more so, the bellyacher fears his stomach will rebel. This very fear of eating is a detriment to digestion. The only individual who need never worry about when to eat is the person who eats every type of food that is grown, made, or mixed. See that your meals are varied. Do not await the craving for certain types of food. Supply your body with all kinds because the person who says that he craves pickles has done without sour food so long that his body alkali is low. Even the pickle will do little good because he is already on the way to being a bellyacher.
When do we eat is not a question to those who eat everything. They may eat any time and from three to a dozen times a day if they wish, and they will relish it and be most certain to keep out of the bellyacher class.