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Diet Of Childhood And Youth

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

Besides the maintenance of activity, the diet of this period must be such as to harden, strengthen, and expand the system. The muscles increase in fibrin and firmness, tissues are developed and strengthened, and the gelatinous model of the bones is solidified and enlarged into a strong skeleton by the gradual deposit of bone-earth. With these changes there is also a slowly augmenting activity of bodily transformation, the excretion of carbonic acid by the lungs, and of urea by the kidneys, increasing in amount up to the twenty-fifth or thirtieth year. The demand for food is, therefore, more peremptory during the growing time of youth than at any portion of subsequent life. As regards the indulgence of the appetite at this period, perhaps there is no better guide than the indications of nature. So children have plain food, if healthy and active, they will hardly eat sufficient to injure themselves. It is not right to subject the young to a regimen adjusted to the adult; they require more nutritious food, and to satisfy the appetite oftener. Something to eat in mid-forenoon and mid-afternoon will often be necessary, but the thing should be done strictly upon system, as the habit of eating irregularly, at every capricious call of appetite, is wrong and injurious. Yet, though the diet of youth should be nutritive and strength-imparting, it is of the first necessity that it should be plain and unexciting. Luxurious, stimulating food, charged with condiments and nerve-provocatives, gives rise to a morbid precocity of instincts, thoughts, and actions, and helps to explain the unhealthy prematurity and slender figures and pale faces of boys and girls brought up in towns.

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