Child Guidance


Chapter 62—Eating to Live

God Appointed the Inclinations and Appetites—Our natural inclinations and appetites ... were divinely appointed, and when given to man, were pure and holy. It was God's design that reason should rule the appetites, and that they should minister to our happiness. And when they are regulated and controlled by a sanctified reason, they are holiness unto the Lord.1 CG 378.1

A Subject of Divine Solicitude—The education of the Israelites included all their habits of life. Everything that concerned their well-being was the subject of divine solicitude and came within the province of divine law. Even in providing their food, God sought their highest good. The manna with which He fed them in the wilderness was of a nature to promote physical, mental, and moral strength.... Notwithstanding the hardships of their wilderness life, there was not a feeble one in all their tribes.2 CG 378.2

Built From the Food We Eat—Our bodies are built up from the food we eat. There is a constant breaking down of the tissues of the body; every movement of every organ involves waste, and this waste is repaired from our food. Each organ of the body requires its share of nutrition. The brain must be supplied with its portion; the bones, muscles, and nerves demand theirs. It is a wonderful process that transforms the food into blood and uses this blood to build up the varied parts of the body; but this process is going on continually, supplying with life and strength each nerve, muscle, and tissue.3 CG 378.3

Begin With Correct Infant Feeding—The importance of training children to right dietetic habits can hardly be overestimated. The little ones need to learn that they eat to live, not live to eat. The training should begin with the infant in its mother's arms. The child should be given food only at regular intervals, and less frequently as it grows older. It should not be given sweets, or the food of older persons, which it is unable to digest. Care and regularity in the feeding of infants will not only promote health, and thus tend to make them quiet and sweet-tempered, but will lay the foundation of habits that will be a blessing to them in after years.4 CG 379.1

Educate Tastes and Appetite—As children emerge from babyhood, great care should still be taken in educating their tastes and appetite. Often they are permitted to eat what they choose and when they choose, without reference to health. The pains and money so often lavished upon unwholesome dainties lead the young to think that the highest object in life, and that which yields the greatest amount of happiness, is to be able to indulge the appetite. The result of this training is gluttony, then comes sickness.... CG 379.2

Parents should train the appetites of their children and should not permit the use of unwholesome foods.5 CG 379.3

Spiritual, Mental, and Physical Powers Influenced by Diet—Mothers who gratify the desires of their children at the expense of health and happy tempers are sowing seeds of evil that will spring up and bear fruit. Self-indulgence grows with the growth of the little ones, and both mental and physical vigor are sacrificed. Mothers who do this work reap with bitterness the seed they have sown. They see their children grow up unfitted in mind and character to act a noble and useful part in society or in the home. The spiritual as well as the mental and physical powers suffer under the influence of unhealthful food. The conscience becomes stupefied, and the susceptibility to good impressions is impaired.6 CG 379.4

Choose the Best Foods—In order to know what are the best foods, we must study God's original plan for man's diet. He who created man and who understands his needs appointed Adam his food.... Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator.7 CG 380.1

Prepare Them in a Simple, Appetizing Way—God has furnished man with abundant means for the gratification of an unperverted appetite. He has spread before him the products of the earth—a bountiful variety of food that is palatable to the taste and nutritious to the system. Of these our benevolent heavenly Father says we may freely eat. Fruits, grains, and vegetables, prepared in a simple way, free from spice and grease of all kinds, make, with milk or cream, the most healthful diet. They impart nourishment to the body and give a power of endurance and a vigor of intellect that are not produced by a stimulating diet.8 CG 380.2

Appetite Not a Safe Guide—Those foods should be chosen that best supply the elements needed for building up the body. In this choice appetite is not a safe guide. Through wrong habits of eating, the appetite has become perverted. Often it demands food that impairs health and causes weakness instead of strength.... The disease and suffering that everywhere prevail are largely due to popular errors in regard to diet.9 CG 380.3

Children Who Followed an Untrained Appetite—While upon the cars, I heard parents remark that the appetites of their children were delicate, and unless they had meat and cake, they could not eat. When the noon meal was taken, I observed the quality of food given to these children. It was fine wheaten bread, sliced ham coated with black pepper, spiced pickles, cake, and preserves. The pale, sallow complexion of these children plainly indicated the abuses the stomach was suffering. Two of these children observed another family of children eating cheese with their food, and they lost their appetite for what was before them until their indulgent mother begged a piece of the cheese to give to her children, fearing the dear children would fail to make out their meal. The mother remarked, “My children love this or that so much, and I let them have what they want; for the appetite craves the kinds of food the system requires.” CG 381.1

This might be correct if the appetite had never been perverted. There is a natural and a depraved appetite. Parents who have taught their children to eat unhealthful, stimulating food all their lives—until the taste is perverted, and they crave clay, slate pencils, burned coffee, tea grounds, cinnamon, cloves, and spices—cannot claim that the appetite demands what the system requires. The appetite has been falsely educated, until it is depraved. The fine organs of the stomach have been stimulated and burned, until they have lost their delicate sensitiveness. Simple, healthful food seems to them insipid. The abused stomach will not perform the work given it, unless urged to it by the most stimulating substances. If these children had been trained from their infancy to take only healthful food, prepared in the most simple manner, preserving its natural properties as much as possible, and avoiding flesh meats, grease, and all spices, the taste and appetite would be unimpaired. In its natural state, it might indicate, in a great degree, the food best adapted to the wants of the system.”10 CG 381.2

What About Flesh Foods?—We do not mark out any precise line to be followed in diet; but we do say that in countries where there are fruits, grains, and nuts in abundance, flesh food is not the right food for God's people. I have been instructed that flesh food has a tendency to animalize the nature, to rob men and women of that love and sympathy which they should feel for everyone, and to give the lower passions control over the higher powers of the being. If meat eating was ever healthful, it is not safe now.11 CG 382.1

Reasons for Discarding Flesh Foods—Those who eat flesh are but eating grains and vegetables at second hand, for the animal receives from these things the nutrition that produces growth. The life that was in the grains and vegetables passes into the eater. We receive it by eating the flesh of the animal. How much better to get it direct, by eating the food that God provided for our use! CG 382.2

Flesh was never the best food; but its use is now doubly objectionable, since disease in animals is so rapidly increasing. Those who use flesh foods little know what they are eating. Often if they could see the animals when living and know the quality of the meat they eat, they would turn from it with loathing. People are continually eating flesh that is filled with tuberculous and cancerous germs. Tuberculosis, cancer, and other fatal diseases are thus communicated.12 CG 382.3

Effects Not Immediately Realized—The effects of a flesh diet may not be immediately realized, but this is no evidence that it is not harmful. Few can be made to believe that it is the meat they have eaten which has poisoned their blood and caused their suffering. Many die of diseases wholly due to meat eating, while the real cause is not suspected by themselves or by others.13 CG 382.4

Return to the Original Wholesome Diet—Is it not time that all should aim to dispense with flesh foods? How can those who are seeking to become pure, refined, and holy, that they may have the companionship of heavenly angels, continue to use as food anything that has so harmful an effect on soul and body? How can they take the life of God's creatures that they may consume the flesh as a luxury? Let them, rather, return to the wholesome and delicious food given to man in the beginning.14 CG 383.1

The Course of Those Awaiting Christ's Coming—Among those who are waiting for the coming of the Lord, meat eating will eventually be done away; flesh will cease to form a part of their diet. We should ever keep this end in view and endeavor to work steadily toward it. I cannot think that in the practice of flesh eating we are in harmony with the light which God has been pleased to give us.15 CG 383.2

Back to God's Design—Again and again I have been shown that God is bringing His people back to His original design, that is, not to subsist on the flesh of dead animals. He would have us teach people a better way.... If meat is discarded, if the taste is not educated in that direction, if a liking for fruits and grains is encouraged, it will soon be as God in the beginning designed it should be. No meat will be used by His people.16 CG 383.3

Instruction Concerning a Change in Diet—It is a mistake to suppose that muscular strength depends on the use of animal food. The needs of the system can be better supplied, and more vigorous health can be enjoyed without its use. The grains, with fruits, nuts, and vegetables, contain all the nutritive properties necessary to make good blood. These elements are not so well or so fully supplied by a flesh diet. Had the use of flesh been essential to health and strength, animal food would have been included in the diet appointed man in the beginning. CG 384.1

When the use of flesh food is discontinued, there is often a sense of weakness, a lack of vigor. Many urge this as evidence that flesh food is essential; but it is because foods of this class are stimulating, because they fever the blood and excite the nerves, that they are so missed. Some will find it as difficult to leave off flesh eating as it is for the drunkard to give up his dram, but they will be the better for the change. CG 384.2

When flesh food is discarded, its place should be supplied with a variety of grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits, that will be both nourishing and appetizing. This is especially necessary in the case of those who are weak, or who are taxed with continuous labor.17 CG 384.3

Well-prepared Substitutes Are Helpful—Especially where meat is not made a principal article of food is good cooking an essential requirement. Something must be prepared to take the place of meat, and these substitutes for meat must be well prepared, so that meat will not be desired.18 CG 384.4

I am acquainted with families who have changed from a meat diet to one that is impoverished. Their food is so poorly prepared that the stomach loathes it, and such have told me that the health reform did not agree with them; that they were decreasing in physical strength. Here is one reason why some have not been successful in their efforts to simplify their food. They have a poverty-stricken diet. Food is prepared without painstaking, and there is a continual sameness. CG 384.5

There should not be many kinds at any one meal, but all meals should not be composed of the same kinds of foods without variation. Food should be prepared with simplicity, yet with a nicety which will invite the appetite.19 CG 385.1

Overcoming the Unnatural Appetite—Persons who have accustomed themselves to a rich, highly stimulating diet have an unnatural taste, and they cannot at once relish food that is plain and simple. It will take time for the taste to become natural and for the stomach to recover from the abuse it has suffered. But those who persevere in the use of wholesome food will, after a time, find it palatable. Its delicate and delicious flavors will be appreciated, and it will be eaten with greater enjoyment than can be derived from unwholesome dainties. And the stomach, in a healthy condition, neither fevered nor overtaxed, can readily perform its task.20 CG 385.2

Healthful Eating Is Not a Sacrifice—While the children should be taught to control the appetite, and to eat with reference to health, let it be made plain that they are denying themselves only that which would do them harm. They give up hurtful things for something better. Let the table be made inviting and attractive as it is supplied with the good things which God has so bountifully bestowed.21 CG 385.3

Consider the Season, Climate, Occupation—Not all foods wholesome in themselves are equally suited to our needs under all circumstances. Care should be taken in the selection of food. Our diet should be suited to the season, to the climate in which we live, and to the occupation we follow. Some foods that are adapted for use at one season or in one climate are not suited to another. So there are different foods best suited for persons in different occupations. Often food that can be used with benefit by those engaged in hard physical labor is unsuitable for persons of sedentary pursuits or intense mental application. God has given us an ample variety of healthful foods, and each person should choose from it the things that experience and sound judgment prove to be best suited to his own necessities.22 CG 386.1

Prepare Food With Intelligence and Skill—It is wrong to eat merely to gratify the appetite, but no indifference should be manifested regarding the quality of the food or the manner of its preparation. If the food eaten is not relished, the body will not be so well nourished. The food should be carefully chosen and prepared with intelligence and skill.23 CG 386.2

“We Can Pick Up Anything.”—In many families great preparations are made for visitors. A variety of food is prepared for the table. This food is tempting to those unaccustomed to such a variety of rich food.... CG 386.3

I have a knowledge of the course pursued by some who make these extra preparations for visitors. In their own families they observe no regularity. The meals are prepared to suit the convenience of the wife and mother. The happiness of the husband and children is not studied. Though such a parade is made for visitors, anything is thought to be good enough for “only us.” A table against the wall, a cold meal placed on it, with no effort to make it inviting, is too often seen. “Only for us,” they say. “We can pick up anything.”24 CG 386.4

Make the Mealtime a Pleasant Social Occasion—Mealtime should be a season for social intercourse and refreshment. Everything that can burden or irritate should be banished. Let trust and kindliness and gratitude to the Giver of all good be cherished, and the conversation will be cheerful, a pleasant flow of thought that will uplift without wearying.25 CG 387.1

The table is not a place where rebellion should be cultivated in the children by some unreasonable course pursued by the parents. The whole family should eat with gladness, with gratitude, remembering that those who love and obey God will partake of the marriage supper of the Lamb in the kingdom of God, and Jesus Himself will serve them.26 CG 387.2

Regularity in Eating—Irregularities in eating destroy the healthful tone of the digestive organs, to the detriment of health and cheerfulness.27 CG 387.3

In no case should the meals be irregular. If dinner is eaten an hour or two before the usual time, the stomach is unprepared for the new burden; for it has not yet disposed of the food eaten at the previous meal and has not vital force for the new work. Thus the system is overtaxed. CG 387.4

Neither should the meals be delayed one or two hours, to suit circumstances, or in order that a certain amount of work may be accomplished. The stomach calls for food at the time it is accustomed to receive it. If that time is delayed, the vitality of the system decreases and finally reaches so low an ebb that the appetite is entirely gone. If food is then taken, the stomach is unable to properly care for it. The food cannot be converted into good blood. If all would eat at regular periods, not tasting anything between meals, they would be ready for their meals and would find a pleasure in eating that would repay them for their effort.28 CG 387.5

Teach Children When, How, and What to Eat—Children are generally untaught in regard to the importance of when, how, and what they should eat. They are permitted to indulge their tastes freely, to eat at all hours, to help themselves to fruit when it tempts their eyes; and this, with the pie, cake, bread and butter, and sweetmeats eaten almost constantly, makes them gourmands and dyspeptics. The digestive organs, like a mill which is continually kept running, become enfeebled, vital force is called from the brain to aid the stomach in its overwork, and thus the mental powers are weakened. The unnatural stimulation and wear of the vital forces make them nervous, impatient of restraint, self-willed, and irritable. They can scarcely be trusted out of their parents’ sight. In many cases the moral powers seem deadened, and it is difficult to arouse them to a sense of the shame and grievous nature of sin; they slip easily into habits of prevarication, deceit, and often open lying. CG 388.1

Parents deplore these things in their children, but do not realize that it is their own bad management which has brought about the evil. They have not seen the necessity of restraining the appetites and passions of their children, and they have grown and strengthened with their years. Mothers prepare with their own hands and place before their children food which has a tendency to injure them physically and mentally.29 CG 388.2

Never Eat Between Meals—The stomach must have careful attention. It must not be kept in continual operation. Give this misused and much-abused organ some peace and quiet and rest.... CG 389.1

After the regular meal is eaten, the stomach should be allowed to rest for five hours. Not a particle of food should be introduced into the stomach till the next meal. In this interval the stomach will perform its work and will then be in a condition to receive more food.30 CG 389.2

Mothers make a great mistake in permitting them [their children] to eat between meals. The stomach becomes deranged by this practice, and the foundation is laid for future suffering. Their fretfulness may have been caused by unwholesome food, still undigested; but the mother feels that she cannot spend time to reason upon the matter and correct her injurious management. Neither can she stop to soothe their impatient worrying. She gives the little sufferers a piece of cake or some other dainty to quiet them, but this only increases the evil.... CG 389.3

Mothers often complain of the delicate health of their children, and consult the physician; when, if they would but exercise a little common sense, they would see that the trouble is caused by errors in diet.31 CG 389.4

Late “Snacks” a Pernicious Habit—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 taken. 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.32 CG 389.5

A Mother Counseled That Breakfast Is Important—Your child has a nervous temperament, and her diet should be carefully guarded. She should not be allowed to choose that food which will gratify the taste without affording proper nourishment.... Never let her go from home to school without her breakfast. Do not venture to give full scope to your inclinations in this matter. Place yourself entirely under the control of God, and He will help you to bring all your desires into harmony with His requirements.33 CG 390.1

It is the custom and order of society to take a slight breakfast. But this is not the best way to treat the stomach. At breakfast time the stomach is in a better condition to take care of more food than at the second or third meal of the day. The habit of eating a sparing breakfast and a large dinner is wrong. Make your breakfast correspond more nearly to the heartiest meal of the day.34 CG 390.2

Provide an Abundance of the Best Foods—Children and youth should not be underfed in the least degree; they should have an abundance of healthful food, but this does not mean that it is proper to place before them rich cakes and pastries. They should have the best of exercise and the best of food, for these have an important bearing upon the condition of the mental and moral powers. A proper, wholesome diet will be one of the means whereby healthful digestion may be preserved.35 CG 390.3

Partake of This in Moderation—Parents often make a mistake by giving their children too much food. Children treated in this way will grow up dyspeptics. Moderation in the use of even good food is essential. Parents, place before your children the amount they should eat. Leave it not with them to eat just as much as they may feel inclined.... Parents, unless this point is guarded, your children will have dull perceptions. They may attend school, but they will be unable to learn as they ought; for the strength which should go to the brain is used in taking care of the extra food that burdens the stomach. Parents need to be educated to see that too much food given to children makes them feeble instead of robust.36 CG 391.1

Parents, Not Children, to Dictate Here—Teach them to deny appetite, to be grateful for the plain, simple diet God gives them. It is not for you to allow them to dictate to you what they should eat, but you should dictate what is best for them. It is a sin for you to allow your children to murmur and complain about good wholesome food, just because it does not suit their depraved appetites.37 CG 391.2

Do not let the child receive the impression that, because he is your child, he must therefore be deferred to and permitted to choose and direct his own way. He should not be permitted to choose articles of food that are not good for him, simply because he likes them. The experience of parents should have a controlling power in the life of the child.38 CG 391.3

Respect Child's Preference, if Reasonable—It rests with us individually to decide whether our lives shall be controlled by the mind or by the body. The youth must, each for himself, make the choice that shapes his life; and no pains should be spared that he may understand the forces with which he has to deal, and the influences which mold character and destiny.39 CG 392.1

In the education of children and youth they should be taught that the habits of eating, drinking, and dressing which have been formed after the world's standard are not in accordance with the laws of health and life, and must be held in control by reason and intellect. The power of appetite and strength of habit should not be permitted to overpower the dictates of reason. In order to secure this object, the youth must have higher aims and motives than mere animal gratification in eating and drinking.40 CG 392.2

Far-reaching Effects of Perverted Appetite—Some are not impressed with the necessity of eating and drinking to the glory of God. The indulgence of appetite affects them in all the relations of life. It is seen in the family, in the church, in the prayer meeting, and in the conduct of their children. It is the curse of their lives. It prevents them from understanding the truths for these last days.41 CG 392.3

Healthful Living, a Personal Obligation—What we eat and drink has an important bearing upon our lives and characters, and Christians should bring their habits of eating and drinking into conformity to the laws of nature. We must sense our obligations to God in these matters. Obedience to the laws of health should be made a matter of earnest study, for willing ignorance on this subject is sin. Each one should feel a personal obligation to carry out the laws of healthful living.42 CG 392.4