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How Much To Eat

( Originally Published 1927 )

It would be a pleasure to be able to tell the exact amount of food needed. But the food required on the Fourth of July is much less than what is necessary on December twenty-fifth, when the weather is colder. The food requirements vary from day to day. What is too little for one individual would be too much for another. Never be guided in the food intake by what another eats. Learn the correct principles, apply them, and in a short time normal taste will come, and that will be the safest guide to the amount of food needed. Most individuals overeat. Some eat from four to eight times too much. It is common to eat twice as much as the body needs. Excessive eating builds disease.

Nobody knows exactly how much you ought to eat.

However, you can solve the problem for yourself, but not for others, Heed the last part of this chapter and you will know what you need.

There are pretentious discussions and tables giving food values in calories and tables telling how many calories an individual needs. These tables are of interest to the student, and some of them will be found in the chapter on Food Classification, but we shall not attempt to tell how many calories any individual needs. (A calorie is a heat unit, being the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water four degrees Fahrenheit.)

Those who talk learnedly of calories believe that a man should be fed like a furnace, that is, that a man is fitted to a certain kind and quantity of food. The truth is that the food has to be fitted to the man to obtain the best results.

We shall try to give some portions, showing how much those who do light work need for a serving. Those who ask, "How much?" will have to equip themselves with a scale showing ounce weights, and a half-pint liquid measure showing the ounces.

4 teaspoonfuls equal 1 tablespoonful.
2 tablespoonfuls equal 1 ounce.
1 ordinary cup holds 6 ounces of liquid.
1 ordinary glass holds 8 ounces of liquid.
1 pint holds 16 ounces of liquid.
1 quart holds 32 ounces of liquid.


Eggs—Two make a good order.

Milk—One glassful is sufficient if taken with other foods.

Cheese-Two ounces (about 3 cubic inches) of firm cheese make a large serving.

Cottage cheese—An ordinary sidedishful. Butter-One-half ounce to an ounce. (One-half ounce is the ordinary serving.)

Toast dried out in oven—Four ounces are more than enough for a sedentary man. About enough for a laborer.

Stale bread—Four to seven ounces, the latter for laborers.

Shredded wheat biscuits-Weight about an ounce apiece. Two biscuits and a glass of milk make a good meal for a sedentary man. Four biscuits with a glass of milk ought to satisfy a laborer.

Breadstuffs of all kinds—When dried in the oven two or three ounces are enough for sedentary individuals. Four ounces, with butter, ought to satisfy a laborer.

Meats—Two ounces of lean meat make a small serving; three ounces a moderate one; four ounces a large serving.

Nuts—When taken as the main part of the meal two ounces of nut meats make a generous serving. The same is true of peanut kernels. Less will do for some.

Peanut butter-One-half ounce to an ounce when taken with breadstuffs or potatoes.

Olive oil—When used for dressing, about one-half ounce (1 tablespoonful) is enough. An ounce of olive oil contains about as much fuel as forty-eight ounces of tomatoes

Bananas—Two large bananas (weight about four ounces apiece) make a generous serving. Two bananas and a glass of milk make a good breakfast. Many will be satisfied with less.

Prunes-If the prunes are the main part of the meal eight to twelve ordinary sized ones are enough. A large dish of prunes and a glass of milk make a nourishing meal. If the prunes are taken for dessert, four or five with their share of juice are enough.

Juicy fruits—May be eaten freely, but not until one feels uncomfortable. Be guided by good manners, good taste and common sense.

Succulent vegetables—May also be eaten freely, say, four ounces or more of each kind.

Salad vegetables—May also be eaten freely.

Oatmeal-Suppose it is to form the entire meal—outmeal and a glass of milk. If the oat-meal is made of medium consistency, one-half pint is a very generous serving. If other foods beside oatmeal and milk are to be taken, use less oatmeal.

Rice—Cooked in double boiler with plenty of water to keep it well moistened, an ordinary tea-cupful with a glass of milk make a good meal.

Potato—A large baked potato weights about three ounces when done, and that is a good serving. When boiled the same potato weighs about four ounces.

Apples-Two baked apples of ordinary size with a glass of milk make a good breakfast. Some are satisfied with less. For dessert use one apple.

Dried figs, dates and raisins—If they are the main part of the meal use three or four ounces. If they are eaten with other concentrated foods, take less of them.

Use refined sugar sparingly. The average consumption in this country seems to be about four ounces daily; an ounce daily is a liberal amount.

These portions are not exact. They aim to be helpful. Never eat any more than is keenly relished. No one can say, "So much you must eat and no more." Those who have hard muscular work to perform may need bigger portions than indicated.

Individuals and conditions vary so much that a certain food supply cannot be fitted to all. Try to fit everybody with the same style and size of shoe and see what happens.

Those who wish to learn for themselves how to eat the correct quantity can do so by studying the rest of this chapter with care.

If discomfort develops after eating, if there is a sense of sluggishness and dullness and a desire to sleep, one has overeaten. Constant overeating will create one or more of the following symptoms:

Bad taste in the mouth on arising in the morning.

Coated tongue.

Swollen tonsils or sore throat.

Adenoids, catarrh or habitual colds.


Sour stomach.

Gas in the stomach.

Gas in the bowels.

Greenish or yellowish tinge of the white the eyeballs.

Greenish or grayish tinge of the skin. Intestinal catarrh.

Blackheads, pimples or boils. Irritable, itchy skin.

"That tired feeling," especially morning.

Inclination to sleep after meals.

Lack of appetite.

Ravenous appetite.

This list could be extended. Those who over-eat have one or more of these symptoms.

The remedy is simple : Reduce the food intake until the symptoms disappear, also giving the body good care otherwise.

Most people who are seriously ill have not the judgment to give themselves the best of care, and then they should seek some one to guide them, but those who are neither ill nor well ought to be able to get themselves into splendid physical condition. Hovering between health and disease is unsafe and unsatisfactory. Treat yourself right and get dependable health.

Health is the normal state, and what is health? It is a condition in which the individual is not aware of having organs or members of the body, unless he uses them or voluntarily turns his thoughts to them. Healthy organs are not seeking to impress their presence upon the mind at all times. When any part of the body begins to advertise its presence, persistently and insistently, that is a sign of disease.

Eat slowly, masticate well, and eat moderately.

Eat only at meal times.

Be tranquil when eating.

Stop eating before a feeling of distress appears.

Do these things habitually and old age is not hard to outwit.

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