The Story of our Health Message


The Reform Diet at Dansville

The reform diet as advocated by Sylvester Graham and other hygienists was adopted at Our Home, and the patients received an abundance of plain and nourishing food which was free from spices, rich gravies, or grease. Provision was made for a gradual change from the popular to a vegetarian diet, but as Elder and Mrs. White had already adopted the reforms, this was not necessary in their case. “As we had lived almost entirely without meat, grease, and spices, for more than a year,” he wrote, “we were in a condition to have our wants in the line of food fully met at the tables at Our Home.”—How to Live 1:16. SHM 101.3

As a health educator Dr. Jackson spared no pains in setting forth the principles of healthful living. The Laws of Life, edited by himself and his adopted daughter, Harriet N. Austin, M.D., was at that time a sixteen-page monthly filled with sensible and practical instruction. At Our Home all who were able to do so were required to attend the morning lectures at Liberty Hall. These were usually given by Dr. Jackson, but occasionally by others on the medical staff. SHM 102.1

The two-meal-a-day system was practiced and ably defended by the medical staff. To this practice Dr. Jackson attributed the reason for the physicians’ seldom being called out in the middle of the night to attend patients with serious attacks of illness. He asserted that when the patients ate three meals a day, scarcely a night, and never a week, passed without one or more of the physicians being called from their rest to attend upon the sick, but that after changing to the two-meal plan, such an event was very rare. SHM 102.2

Although Elder and Mrs. White saw much to commend in those methods of life and treatment of the sick, while at Dansville, there were a few things which they could not approve. In his report Elder White said: SHM 102.3

“In all their amusements we could not unite. For the object for which they were intended, and when confined to the institution, these seem less objectionable. But we fear the influence of card playing and dancing upon young men and women, who at the same time profess to be Christians, when they shall leave the institution and be exposed to the vices so common with card players and dancers.”—How to Live 1:16. SHM 102.4