Since the average normal stomach holds about a quart, the average meal for an active person should never amount to more than a pint and a half. Overloading the stomach is as harmful to the system as to swill intoxicating liquor. Yes, even, more so. One of the resultant evils of such an erroneous habit is that, besides causing gastro-intestinal disorders, it enlarges the size of the stomach, and as a consequence the whole body becomes misshapen. Especially is this so with the youth who are in the growing stages, for one organ has influence over another. Besides such injuries overeating wears out the whole organism — shortens the life. A milling machine grinds only a certain amount of grist before it breaks down, be it during a long or short period of time. The human machine in like manner can take care of only a fixed amount of food, then it, too, retires. Thus it is that one can, as it were, chew away his life.
Overeating causes fermentation, fermentation causes irritation, irritation causes constipation, and constipation opens the gateway to a multitude of diseases. Overloading anything is bad on its everything.
Let the reader, therefore, now be well reminded that man passes through three distinct periods in life: (1) the years of his growth, (2) the years of his prime, and (3) the years of his decline. While he is ascending the hill of development he needs food for growing besides for the upkeep of his body. But after he has reached the peak of maturity, and he moves out across the ridge prime of his life, he needs only to eat enough to keep himself going. And when he passes over the crestline of life, becomes older and less active, he then needs proportionately less. Taking more food than his body requires and his work calls for, wastes not only the food but needed energy, too, because he then overtaxes his digestive organs, forces them to do more than they are able, and uses his energy to grind needless food, to throw out excess poisons and wastes — he overburdens his whole organism. And if this injudicious practice be continued on and on, also eating at any and all times, eating for fun rather than for health and strength, as men are in this age habitually doing, eventually the organs of the body will become unable to carry out such an unreasonable demand. Consequently, those who eat in such darkness, must pass through a period of misery, and end their lives long before their work is finished, before their usefulness is used up.
“Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness!” Eccles. 10:17.
“The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want.” Prov. 13:25. Christians should eat to live, not live to eat.
EATING BETWEEN MEALS
Suppose you leave a little food in your breakfast dish, then at lunch add more to it, but again not use up the whole, and repeat this again and again, day after day. Can you imagine how the plate and the food will look and smell in a few days? Yet a person who eats between meals, eats before the previously taken food leaves the stomach, is unconsciously creating a condition that is just as bad.
If given no chance to empty from one meal to the next, the stomach is bound to ferment and to produce gas and toxins, so that what little energy is realized from the food, the system must use to throw out the poisons. Rather than take food between meals, flush your stomach with pure fresh water — promote a good healthy appetite for the next meal. Moreover, if after a reasonable length of time all the food has not left your stomach, rather than eat only because the regular time for meal has come or only because you have a false hunger, keep on drinking warm water until your stomach becomes light and your appetite stimulated. Correct eating habits make one’s earnings go further, promote health, increase energy, sweeten the breath, and develop amiability. What a gain without having to invest!
“Regularity in eating is of vital importance. There should be a specified time for each meal. At this time, let everyone eat what the system requires, and then take nothing more until the next meal. There are many who eat when the system needs no food, at irregular intervals, and between meals, because they have not sufficient strength of will to resist inclination. When traveling, some are constantly nibbling if anything eatable is within their reach. This is very injurious. If travelers would eat regularly of food that is simple and nutritious, they would not feel so great weariness, nor suffer so much from sickness.
“Another pernicious habit is that of eating just before bedtime. The regular meals may have been taken; but because there is a sense of faintness, more food is eaten. By indulgence, this wrong practice becomes a habit, and often so firmly fixed that it is thought impossible to sleep without food. As a result of eating late suppers, the digestive process is continued through the sleeping hours. But though the stomach works constantly, its work is not properly accomplished. The sleep is often disturbed with unpleasant dreams, and in the morning the person awakes unrefreshed, and with little relish for breakfast. When we lie down to rest, the stomach should have its work all done, that it, as well as the other organs of the body, may enjoy rest. For persons of sedentary habits, late suppers are particularly harmful. With them the disturbance created is often the beginning of disease that ends in death.
“In many cases the faintness that leads to a desire for food is felt because the digestive organs have been too severely taxed during the day. After disposing of one meal, the digestive organs need rest. At least five or six hours should intervene between the meals….” — Ministry of Healing, pp. 303, 304.