Backbone Of The Meal
( Originally Published 1921 )
We find, on examination, that good bread (entire wheat) possesses properties which so nearly represent the constituent parts of the human body as to make such bread ideal for building up the body and keeping it in a state of health. Such bread is rightly called "the staff of life," and from time immemorial, has been so considered the world over. Good bread is an exceedingly digestible food ; and experiments show that nearly 98% of the carbohydrate nutrients, and about 88% of the gluten or protein constituents, are assimilated by the body. In the matter of building material, bread yields about % of protein, or about the recognized dietary requirement in normal health.
Good bread, therefore, of some kind, may justly be called the backbone of the meal. To this add the various fresh vegetables for their mineral value, flavor, and variety; and from day to day in rotation, one of the more solid foods as needed, such as noodles, beans, macaroni, etc., also varying proportions of nuts and dairy products. The following menus are designed to represent a fair combination, from the standpoint of nutrition, and also of agreement together.
In the making of menus, some provision is made for individual choice. Some persons will not require everything named on the menu, but each will choose such things and in such amounts as experience and sound judgment prove to be best suited to his necessities.
To show that it is not necessary to provide a large variety at one meal in order to supply the needs of the body, we may say that if breakfast No. I consisted of only the three first items, milk, oatmeal, and prunes, it would provide practically all the kinds of substance needed by the body. The oatmeal and the milk supply building material (protein); the milk or cream supplies fat; the milk and the prunes contain sugar ; and the oatmeal furnishes starch. These last three — fat, sugar, and starch — are heat and energy foods. Prunes are rich in iron and potassium, and provide a needed bulk; while the milk and the oatmeal furnish lime and phosphorus, all of which are essential ingredients for the making of a well balanced dietary. Milk and cream are also rich in essential vitamine.
The accompanying table gives the proportion of food elements in some of our most common foods. By a little study of the composition of various food materials, one can soon become sufficiently intelligent along this line to keep the diet properly balanced.
THE THIRD MEAL
One of the first and most essential requirements in the maintenance of health in these days of stress and competition is rest. When the evening meal is light, and composed of foods most quickly and easily digested, the stomach is permitted to have its work all done when the time comes for sleep, so it, as well as other organs of the body, may enjoy perfect rest, and thus kind nature may do her reconstructive work unhindered. Fruit, fruit juices, bread twice baked (zwieback), crackers, and milk or cereal coffee are foods best suited to the evening meal.
When the usual "three square meals" are taken daily, with the heaviest meal coming but an hour or two before bedtime, a great burden is imposed on the digestive organs at the very time when they should have the least. It follows that there is seldom any real relish for breakfast, and little is eaten. Often the noon meal consists of but cold foods and hot drinks. Thus by evening, a ravenous appetite for food is developed. Hence the work of digestion is carried into the sleeping hours, causing restless dreams, and in the morning, a sense of being unrefreshed upon awakening, with lack of energy.
When this practice is long continued, the digestive organs wear out prematurely, because they find no time for rest. The sufferer is at a loss to account for such a state of things, since he may be, aside from this, in apparent good health. Having insufficient rest, the digestive organs become weary; and this is the cause of that feeling of "goneness" so often misinterpreted as a demand for more food. The gratification of this false appetite when the stomach is already exhausted from overwork, does for a time remove the sense of faintness; but it is only the giving of a mortgage on the reserve forces, for the day of physical reckoning must come. To husband carefully the reserve forces of vitality is to avert a crisis, and is the first essential in preserving the health.
ABOUT THE TWO-MEAL PLAN
An impartial trial affords abundant proof that for most per-sons, two meals a day are better than three. Especially is this so with those of sedentary habit, and with brain workers. The times for meals should be fixed proportionately far apart, and the meals taken regularly. Dr. D. H. Kress, a physician of long practical experience, writes of the two-meal plan as follows :
"Two meals a day are sufficient, and in every way preferable whenever it can be intelligently carried out. Of course, there are those who can eat but little at a meal ; for such, three meals are best. But most dyspeptics could cure themselves by simply taking two meals a day, thus affording the stomach a period of rest between meals and enabling it to do better work."
"As a rule, men fast when they can no longer eat if they would. Even a long annual fast is better than that ; but, as stated, a daily fast by dropping out one meal a day is the best method of fasting. Two meals a day, I am convinced, would result in increased health to the majority of mankind, and would greatly lessen the labor of those who are at present troubled and worried about much serving, to such an extent that they have no time for anything else." "Li of e Boat," June, 1919.
Mr. W. Earl Flinn is quoted on the same point :
"In most cases it has been demonstrated that two meals are sufficient for all kinds of work. Of course the food must be scientifically selected, as well as right combinations, and well masticated. The Greeks built up the most beautiful women and men ever known on two meals a day."— Elmira "Star Gazette," November 8, 1911.
The Holy Scriptures tell us that when God commanded the ravens to feed the prophet Elijah, in a time of great famine, they brought him but two meals a day. (r Kings 17: 2-6.)
A man who is engaged in severe physical exercise or work, will not suffer so acutely from an excess of protein, or from the habit of eating a hearty meal at night, as will a person who has little exercise, or is weak physically. His system is better able to eliminate excess of waste products. However, to preserve the health by reasonable and timely care is much better than to regain it when it is lost. Those who, for a reasonable length of time, live on a moderately low protein diet, and eat only two meals a day, or at most a light lunch for the evening meal, soon observe a clearness of mind and an increase of physical endurance that are most gratifying.
ADAPTATION OF FOOD
The diet that is most conducive to good health, necessarily varies with circumstances, depending largely upon the occupation of the individual, the climate in which he lives, and the season of the year. Some foods adapted for use at one season or in one climate are not suited to another; and different foods are best suited to persons of different occupations. Often food that can be used with benefit by persons engaged in hard physical labor is unsuitable for those of sedentary habit.
Some people make the mistake of eating in warm weather the same foods and the same quantities of food that they consume in the winter; but the quantity of food should be reduced during the spring and summer months. The digestive organs cannot readily care for the same quantity or the same quality in spring that they are capable of digesting during the winter. Wisely, therefore, with the return of spring, nature takes away the desire for many of the more solid foods, and furnishes us with fruits, greens, and succulent vegetables, which are appetizing and cooling to the system.
Much of the common sickness, especially during the spring and summer months, is caused by the absorption of poisons resulting from the decay of unsuitable food in the intestinal tract. Pimples, rash, and itching of the skin are often signs that nourishment ill suited to the season or to the condition of the blood has been taken into the body. Fresh fruits are both food and medicine, and are needed by the blood; being especially rich in alkaline elements, they serve to keep the blood in good condition, and because they contain the carbon in a form most easily digested (fruit sugar), they hold first place in the list of foods which go to make up the ideal diet.