Counsels on Diet and Foods


Appendix 2

A Statement by James White Relating to the Teaching of Health Reform

[In reporting the Kansas camp meeting of 1870, Elder James White made the following statement regarding the progressive light that had been received on health reform, the dangers of injudicious methods of teaching the subjects, and Mrs. White's relation to certain extreme positions that were then being advocated by some. As a historical statement it illuminates some of her teaching recorded at that time.—Compilers.] CD 495.1

Mrs. White has spoken on the health question in a manner to give entire satisfaction. Her remarks were clear and forcible, yet prudent, so that she carried the feelings of the entire congregation with her. On this subject she always avoids extremes, and is careful to take only those positions where she is quite sure not to excite prejudices. CD 495.2

The people are easily excited and prejudiced upon the subject of health reform, if those who handle it are unfortunate in the selection of the occasion, or in the style in which they present it, especially if they stand before the people in the light of extremists. Some delicate questions, such as “solitary vice,” should seldom, if ever, be discussed, only in suitable publications upon the subject. There is not one in ten of our preachers who are suitably informed, and properly guarded, to handle the health question in its several branches before the people. And the amount of harm done to the cause of present truth by the injudicious course of those who have introduced the subject of health reform at the wrong time and place, and in a wrong manner, can hardly be estimated. CD 495.3

“I have yet many things to say unto you,” said Jesus, “but ye cannot bear them now.” Jesus knew how to lead along the minds of His disciples. The Lord also knew how to introduce to His waiting people the great subject of health reform, step by step, as they could bear it, and make a good use of it, without souring the public mind. It was twenty two years ago the present autumn, that our minds were called to the injurious effects of tobacco, tea, and coffee, through the testimony of Mrs. White. God has wonderfully blessed the effort to put these things away from us, so that we as a denomination can rejoice in victory, with very few exceptions, over these pernicious indulgences of appetite.... CD 495.4

When we had gained a good victory over these things, and when the Lord saw that we were able to bear it, light was given relative to food and dress. And the cause of health reform among our people moved steadily forward, and great changes were made, especially in regard to the use of swine's flesh, up to a certain point, when, in consequence of our sickness, Mrs. White ceased to speak and write upon the subject of health reform. From that point may be dated the commencement of our misfortunes and mistakes as a people relative to this subject. CD 496.1

And since we have become active again, Mrs. White oftener feels called upon to speak upon the subject of health reform because of existing extremes of health reformers, than from any other reason. The fact that all, or nearly all, of the existing extremes upon health reform among our people are supposed to receive her unqualified sanction, is the reason why she feels called upon to speak her real sentiments. The people must, and will in due time, know her position upon this subject. CD 496.2

In reference to the use of tobacco, tea, coffee, flesh meats, also to dress, there is a general agreement. But at present she is not prepared to take the extreme position relative to salt, sugar, and milk. If there were no other reasons for moving carefully in reference to these things of so common and abundant use, there is a sufficient one in the fact that the minds of many are not prepared, even to receive the facts relative to these things. The complete overthrow of individuals, and the almost destruction of some of our churches, can be clearly traced to some extreme positions upon diet, injudiciously given in the Review some time since. The results have been bad. While some have rejected the subject of health reform, because badly handled, others, prompt and conscientious, have carried out the most extreme positions, greatly detrimental to their health, and consequently to the cause of health reform. CD 496.3

In this state of things, however discouraging, Mrs. White feels called upon to resume her work in this field of labor, and in so doing, will let her views be fully understood. It may be well here to state, however, that while she does not regard milk, taken in large quantities, as customarily eaten with bread, the best article of food, her mind, as yet, has only been called to the importance of the best and most healthy condition possible of the cow, whose milk is used as an article of food. She cannot unite in circulating publications broadcast which take an extreme position on the important question of milk, with her present light upon the subject. Such works may be well enough with well-informed health reformers, and may be a proper guide in the cooking department of our health institute at Battle Creek, after its tables shall be cleared of the habitual use of milk. And such works may have a greater influence among our people when our ministers, who are ardent health reformers, shall leave the free use of cow's milk. CD 497.1

Here is our weakness upon this subject. Our publications, which go out to the untaught and those very susceptible to prejudices, are in advance, upon some of these points, of the practices of those among us who represent the health reform. Mrs. White pleads to have this matter so reversed that our publications shall speak out only those sentiments upon which those standing at the head of the reform are agreed, and then in a style not to prejudice, and put good men and good women beyond our influence. Let the united practices of health reformers take the advance, and then let our publications follow, and speak out well-matured sentiments as the untaught can bear them. CD 497.2

Mrs. White thinks that a change from the simplest kinds of flesh meats, to an abundant use of sugar, is going from “bad to worse.” She would recommend a very sparing use of both sugar and salt. The appetite can, and should, be brought to a very moderate use of both. In the case of salt, food with so reduced an amount that it would taste insipid to the one accustomed to the use of much salt, after a few weeks of very temperate use, will be painfully salty to the taste. CD 497.3

While tobacco, tea, and coffee may be left at once, one at a time, however, by those who are so unfortunate as to be slaves to all, changes in diet should be made carefully, one at a time. And while she would say this to those who are in danger of making changes too rapidly, she would also say to the tardy, be sure and not forget to change. The plainest facts possible demand a change from the common habits of life, but let them not be made so fast as to injure health or constitution. The Review and Herald, November 8, 1870 CD 498.1