The Health Reformer


December 1, 1870

Convenient Food


The prayer of Agur is instructive: “Remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me; lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” Proverbs 30:8, 9. HR December 1, 1870, par. 1

Among the evils of this life, are extreme poverty, and great riches; either frequently deprives men and women of convenient food. The poor sometimes suffer from want of the plainest bread; while the rich suffer more from the ruinous effects of the indulgence of appetite. HR December 1, 1870, par. 2

The prayer of Agur should be our prayer. And as we pray, we should act our part in the answer of the prayer. HR December 1, 1870, par. 3

I have traveled extensively, during the past season, east and west, from Kansas to the State of Maine. I have had an opportunity to see that but few understand how to take care of their bodies. I have seen many groaning under infirmities which they could not account for, only as they charged their sufferings to Providence. They seemed to console themselves with the thought that pain was the common lot of mankind, and they must be reconciled. But in nine cases out of ten, the afflictions we meet are in consequence of the continual transgression of the laws of life. The collision between nature and their habits, results in suffering and disease. HR December 1, 1870, par. 4

While in the depot at Tipton, Indiana, I was a listener to the remarks of several who were conversing together in regard to a family then lying at the point of death, a few miles distant. The entire family, save one, had been poisoned by drinking Java coffee. The family physician had pronounced them to be in a critical condition, and their recovery very doubtful. The question may arise, How do they know that the coffee poisoned them? It was stated that they all partook freely of the coffee, except one child. She ate with the rest of the family, but could never be induced to taste coffee. While the rest, in a short time after their meal, were thrown into convulsions, the little girl was as well as usual. HR December 1, 1870, par. 5

It has been no wonder to me that sickness and disease are so prevalent; but it has been a marvel why many live at all, under the abuses they put upon themselves. Every transgression of nature's laws will be followed by the penalty. HR December 1, 1870, par. 6

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. HR December 1, 1870, par. 7

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. HR December 1, 1870, par. 8

While parents and children were eating of their dainties, my husband and myself partook of our simple repast, at our usual hour, at 1 P. M., of graham bread without butter, and a generous supply of fruit. We ate our meal with a keen relish, and with thankful hearts that we were not obliged to carry a popular grocery with us to provide for a capricious appetite. We ate heartily, and felt no sense of hunger until the next morning. The boy with his oranges, nuts, popcorn, and candies, found us poor customers. HR December 1, 1870, par. 9

The quality of food eaten by parents and children, could not be converted into good blood, or sweet tempers. The children were pale. Some had disgusting sores upon their faces and hands. Others were nearly blind with sore eyes, which greatly marred the beauty of the countenance. And still others showed no eruption upon the skin, but were afflicted with cough, catarrh, or difficulty of throat and lungs. I noticed a boy of three years, who was suffering with diarrhea. He had quite a fever, but seemed to think all he needed was food. He was calling, every few minutes, for cake, chicken, pickles. The mother answered his every call like an obedient slave; and when the food called for did not come as soon as was desired, as the cries and calls became unpleasantly urgent, the mother answered, “Yes, yes, darling, you shall have it.” After the food was placed in his hand, it was thrown passionately upon the car floor, because it did not come soon enough. One little girl was partaking of her boiled ham, and spiced pickles, and bread and butter, when she espied a plate I was eating from. Here was something she did not have, and she refused to eat. This girl of six years said she would have a plate. I thought it was the nice red apple I was eating she desired; and although we had a limited amount, I felt such pity for the parents, that I gave her a fine apple. She snatched it from my hand, and disdainfully threw it quickly to the car floor. I thought, This child if permitted to thus have her own way, will indeed bring her mother to shame. HR December 1, 1870, par. 10

This exhibition of passion was the result of the mother's course of indulgence. The quality of food she provided for her child, was a continual tax to the digestive organs. The blood was impure, and the child sickly and irritable. The quality of food given daily to this child, was of that nature to excite the lower order of passions, and depress the moral and intellectual. The parents were forming the habits of their child. They were making her selfish and unloving. They did not restrain her desires, or control her passions. What can they expect of such a child, should she come to maturity? Many do not seem to understand the relation the mind sustains to the body. If the system is deranged by improper food, the brain and nerves are affected, and the passions are easily excited. HR December 1, 1870, par. 11

A child of about ten years was afflicted with chills and fever, and was disinclined to eat. The mother urged her: “Eat a little of this sponge cake. Here is some nice chicken. Won't you have a taste of these preserves?” The child finally ate a large meal for a well person. The food urged upon her was not proper for the stomach in health, and should in no case be taken while sick. The mother, in about two hours, was bathing the head of the child, saying she could not understand why she should have such a burning fever. She had added fuel to the fire, and wondered that the fire burned. Had that child been left to let nature take her course, and the stomach take that rest so necessary for it, her sufferings might have been far less. These mothers were not prepared to bring up children. The greatest cause of human suffering is ignorance on the subject of how to treat our own bodies. HR December 1, 1870, par. 12

The inquiry with many is, What shall I eat, and how shall I live, to best enjoy the present time? Duty and principle are laid aside for present gratification. If we would have health, we must live for it. If we perfect Christian character, we must live for it. Parents are, in a great degree, responsible for the physical health and morals of their children. They should instruct their children, and urge them to conform to the laws of health for their own sake, to save themselves unhappiness and suffering. How strange, that mothers should indulge their children, to the ruin of their physical, mental, and moral health! What can be the character of such fondness! These mothers make their children unfit for happiness in this life, and render the prospect of the future life very uncertain. HR December 1, 1870, par. 13

As I saw the manner in which parents were treating their children in the cars, I thought, These poor children are indeed creatures of circumstance. Both parents and children were suffering the effects of eating irregularly, and of unhealthful food. As the result, there was a manifest lack of genuine affection with parents and children. All were sufferers. They were nervous, irritable, and desponding. The indulgence of appetite lessened their constitutional strength, as well as their mental and moral powers. HR December 1, 1870, par. 14

Ellen G. White.