Letter 17, 1895
210. Overtaxing the stomach is a common sin, and when too much food is used, the entire system is burdened. Life and vitality, instead of being increased, are decreased. This is as Satan plans to have it. Man uses up his vital forces in unnecessary labour in taking care of an excess of food.
By taking too much food, we not only improvidently waste the blessings of God, provided for the necessities of nature, but do great injury to the whole system. We defile the temple of God; it is weakened and crippled; and nature cannot do its work wisely and well, as God has made provision that it should. Because of the selfish indulgence of his appetite, man has oppressed nature's power by compelling it to do work it should never be required to do.
Were all men acquainted with the living, human machinery, they would not be guilty of doing this, unless, indeed, they loved self-indulgence so well that they would continue their suicidal course and die a premature death, or live for years a burden to themselves and to their friends.
Clogging the Human Machinery
[C.T.B.H. 51] (1890) C.H. 119
211. It is possible to eat immoderately, even of wholesome food. It does not follow that because one has discarded the use of hurtful articles of diet, he can eat just as much as he pleases. Overeating, no matter what the quality of the food, clogs the living machine, and thus hinders it in its work.
Signs, Sept. 1, 1887
212. Intemperance in eating, even of healthful food, will have an injurious effect upon the system, and will blunt the mental and moral faculties.
Letter 73a, 1896
213. Nearly all the members of the human family eat more than the system requires. This excess decays and becomes a putrid mass. . . . If more food, even of a simple quality, is placed in the stomach than the living machinery requires, this surplus becomes a burden. The system makes desperate efforts to dispose of it, and this extra work causes a tired, weary feeling. Some who are continually eating call this all-gone feeling hunger, but it is caused by the overworked condition of the digestive organs. [EFFECTS OF OVEREATING EVEN OF SIMPLE, HEALTHFUL FOOD--33, 157]
(1900) 6T 343
214. Needless worries and burdens are created by the desire to make a display in entertaining visitors. In order to prepare a great variety for the table, the housewife overworks; because of the many dishes prepared, the guests overeat; and disease and suffering, from overwork on the one hand and overeating on the other, is the result. These elaborate feasts are a burden and an injury.
Health Reformer, June, 1878
215. Gluttonous feasts, and food taken into the stomach at untimely seasons, leave an influence upon every fibre of the system; and the mind also is seriously affected by what we eat and drink.
(1876) 4T 96
216. Close application to severe labour is injurious to the growing frames of the young; but where hundreds have broken down their constitutions by overwork alone, inactivity, overeating, and delicate idleness have sown the seeds of disease in the system of thousands that are hurrying to swift and sure decay.
Gluttony a Capital Offense
(1880) 4T 454, 455
217. Some do not exercise control over their appetites, but indulge taste at the expense of health. As the result, the brain is clouded, their thoughts are sluggish, and they fail
to accomplish what they might if they were self-denying and abstemious. These rob God of the physical and mental strength which might be devoted to His service if temperance were observed in all things.
Paul was a health reformer. Said he, "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." He felt that a responsibility rested upon him to preserve all his powers in their strength, that he might use them to the glory of God. If Paul was in danger from intemperance, we are in greater danger, because we do not feel and realise as he did the necessity of glorifying God in our bodies and spirits, which are His. Overeating is the sin of this age.
The word of God places the sin of gluttony in the same catalogue with drunkenness. So offensive was this sin in the sight of God that He gave directions to Moses that a child who would not be restrained on the point of appetite, but would gorge himself with anything his taste might crave, should be brought by his parents before the rulers of Israel, and should be stoned to death. The condition of the glutton was considered hopeless. He would be of no use to others, and was a curse to himself. No dependence could be placed upon him in anything. His influence would be ever contaminating others, and the world would be better without such a character; for his terrible defects would be perpetuated. None who have a sense of their accountability to God will allow the animal propensities to control reason. Those who do this are not Christians, whoever they may be, and however exalted their profession. The injunction of Christ is, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." He here shows us that we may be as perfect in our sphere as God is in His sphere.
The Course Plan Incites to Gluttony
(1905) M.H. 306, 307
218. Many who discard flesh meats and other gross and injurious articles think that because their food is simple and
wholesome they may indulge appetite without restraint, and they eat to excess, sometimes to gluttony. This is an error. The digestive organs should not be burdened with a quantity or quality of food which it will tax the system to appropriate.
Custom has decreed that the food should be placed upon the tables in courses. Not knowing what is coming next, one may eat a sufficiency of food which perhaps is not the best suited to him. When the last course is brought on, he often ventures to overstep the bounds, and take the tempting dessert, which, however, proves anything but good for him. If all the food intended for a meal is placed on the table at the beginning, one has opportunity to make the best choice.
Sometimes the result of overeating is felt at once. In other cases there is no sensation of pain; but the digestive organs lose their vital force, and the foundation of physical strength is undermined.
The surplus food burdens the system, and produces morbid, feverish conditions. It calls an undue amount of blood to the stomach, causing the limbs and extremities to chill quickly. It lays a heavy tax on the digestive organs, and when these organs have accomplished their task, there is a feeling of faintness or languor. Some who are continually overeating call this all-gone feeling hunger; but it is caused by the overworked condition of the digestive organs. At times there is numbness of the brain, with disinclination to mental or physical effort.
These unpleasant symptoms are felt because nature has accomplished her work at an unnecessary outlay of vital force, and is thoroughly exhausted. The stomach is saying, "Give me rest." But with many the faintness is interpreted as a demand for more food; so instead of giving the stomach rest, another burden it placed upon it. As a consequence the digestive organs are often worn out when they should be capable of doing good work. [ORGANS MAY LOSE VITAL FORCE THOUGH NO PAIN IS FELT--155] [GOD'S WORKERS TO PRACTICE TEMPERANCE IN EATING--117] [E. G. WHITE COULD NOT ASK GOD'S BLESSING ON HER WORK IF SHE OVERATE--APPENDIX 1:7] 135
The Cause of Physical and Mental Debility
(1890) C.T.B.H. 154
219. As a people, with all our profession of health reform, we eat too much. Indulgence of appetite is the greatest cause of physical and mental debility, and lies at the foundation of a large share of the feebleness which is apparent everywhere.
(1870) 2T 362-365
220. Many who have adopted the health reform have left off everything hurtful; but does it follow that because they have left off these things, they can eat just as much as they please? They sit down to the table, and instead of considering how much they should eat, they give themselves up to appetite and eat to great excess. And the stomach has all it can do, or all it should do, the rest of that day, to worry away with the burden imposed upon it. All the food that is put into the stomach, from which the system cannot derive benefit, is a burden to nature in her work. It hinders the living machine. The system is clogged, and cannot successfully carry on its work. The vital organs are unnecessarily taxed, and the brain nerve power is called to the stomach to help the digestive organs carry on their work of disposing of an amount of food which does the system no good. . . .
And what influence does overeating have upon the stomach? It becomes debilitated, the digestive organs are weakened, and disease, with all its train of evils, is brought on as the result. If persons were diseased before, they thus increase the difficulties upon them, and lessen their vitality every day they live. They call their vital powers into unnecessary action to take care of the food that they place in their stomachs. What a terrible condition is this to be in!
We know something of dyspepsia by experience. We have had it in our family; and we feel that it is a disease much to be dreaded. When a person becomes a thorough dyspeptic, he is a great sufferer, mentally and physically; and his friends must also suffer, unless they are as unfeeling as brutes.
And yet will you say, "It is none of your business what I eat, or what course I pursue?" Does anybody around dyspeptics
suffer? Just take a course that will irritate them in any way. How natural to be fretful! They feel bad, and it appears to them that their children are very bad. They cannot speak calmly to them, nor, without especial grace, act calmly in their families. All around them are affected by the disease upon them; all have to suffer the consequences of their infirmity. They cast a dark shadow. Then, do not your habits of eating and drinking affect others? They certainly do. And you should be very careful to preserve yourself in the best condition of health, that you may render to God perfect service, and do your duty in society and to your family.
But even health reformers can err in the quantity of food. They can eat immoderately of a healthful quality of food.
MS 93, 1901
221. The Lord has instructed me that as a general rule, we place too much food in the stomach. Many make themselves uncomfortable by overeating, and sickness is often the result. The Lord did not bring this punishment on them. They brought it on themselves; and God desires them to realise that pain is the result of transgression.
Many eat too rapidly. Others eat at one meal food which does not agree. If men and women would only remember how greatly they afflict the soul when they afflict the stomach, and how deeply Christ is dishonoured when the stomach is abused, they would be brave and self-denying, giving the stomach opportunity to recover its healthy action. While sitting at the table we may do medical missionary work by eating and drinking to the glory of God.
Drowsiness During Church Service
(1870) 2T 374
222. When we eat immoderately, we sin against our own bodies. Upon the Sabbath, in the house of God, gluttons will sit and sleep under the burning truths of God's word. They can neither keep their eyes open, nor comprehend the solemn discourses given. Do you think that such are glorifying God in their bodies and spirits, which are His? No;
they dishonour Him. And the dyspeptic--what has made him dyspeptic is taking this course. Instead of observing regularity, he has let appetite control him, and has eaten between meals. Perhaps, if his habits are sedentary, he has not had the vitalizing air of heaven to help in the work of digestion; he may not have had sufficient exercise for his health.
(1905) M.H. 307
223. We should not provide for the Sabbath a more liberal supply or a greater variety of food than for other days. Instead of this, the food should be more simple, and less should be eaten, in order that the mind may be clear and vigorous to comprehend spiritual things. A clogged stomach means a clogged brain. The most precious words may be heard and not appreciated, because the mind is confused by an improper diet. By overeating on the Sabbath, many do more than they think, to unfit themselves for receiving the benefit of its sacred opportunities. [DROWSINESS IN SABBATH SERVICES--93] [ABSTEMIOUS DIET IMPARTS MENTAL AND MORAL VIGOUR--85, 117, 206] [EFFECTS OF OVEREATING ON SPIRITUALITY--56, 57, 59, 251] [EFFECTS OF OVEREATING ON THE MIND--74] [OVEREATING AT CAMP MEETING--57, 124] [SUICIDAL PRACTICES--202] [DESSERTS A TEMPTATION TO OVEREATING--538, 547, 550] [A SOURCE OF CHURCH TRIALS--65] [GLUTTONY THE PREVAILING SIN OF THE AGE--35] [OVEREATING LEADS TO DISSIPATION--244] [KEEPING A CLEAN CONSCIENCE--263] [INTEMPERANCE AND OVEREATING ENCOURAGED BY MOTHERS--351, 354]
A Cause of Forgetfulness
Letter 17, 1895
224. The Lord has given me light for you on the subject of temperance in all things. You are intemperate in your eating. Frequently you place in your stomach double the quantity of food your system requires. This food decays; your breath becomes offensive; your catarrhal difficulties are aggravated; your stomach is overworked; and life and energy are called from the brain to work the mill which
grinds the material you have placed in your stomach. In this, you have shown little mercy to yourself.
You are a gourmand when at the table. This is one great cause of your forgetfulness and loss of memory. You say things which I know you have said, and then turn square about, and say that you said something entirely different. I knew this, but passed it over as the sure result of overeating. Of what use would it be to speak about it? It would not cure the evil.
Counsel to Sedentary Workers and Ministers
(1905) M.H. 308-310
225. Overeating is especially harmful to those who are sluggish in temperament; these should eat sparingly, and take plenty of physical exercise. There are men and women of excellent natural ability who do not accomplish half what they might if they would exercise self-control in the denial of appetite.
Many writers and speakers fail here. After eating heartily they give themselves to sedentary occupations, reading, study, or writing, allowing no time for physical exercise. As a consequence, the free flow of thought and words is checked. They cannot write or speak with the force and intensity necessary in order to reach the heart; their efforts are tame and fruitless.
Those upon whom rest important responsibilities, those, above all, who are guardians of spiritual interests, should be men of keen feeling and quick perception. More than others, they need to be temperate in eating. Rich and luxurious food should have no place upon their tables.
Every day men in positions of trust have decisions to make upon which depend results of great importance. Often they have to think rapidly, and this can be done successfully by those only who practice strict temperance. The mind strengthens under the correct treatment of the physical and mental powers. If the strain is not too great, new vigour comes with every taxation. But often the work of those who have important plans to consider and important decisions to make is affected for evil by the results of improper diet. A disordered stomach produces a disordered, uncertain
state of mind. Often it causes irritability, harshness, or injustice. Many a plan that would have been a blessing to the world has been set aside, many unjust, oppressive, even cruel measures have been carried, as the result of diseased conditions due to wrong habits of eating.
Here is a suggestion for all whose work is sedentary or chiefly mental; let those who have sufficient moral courage and self-control try it: At each meal take only two or three kinds of simple food, and eat no more than is required to satisfy hunger. Take active exercise every day, and see if you do not receive benefit.
Strong men who are engaged in active physical labour are not compelled to be as careful as to the quantity or quality of their food as are persons of sedentary habits; but even these would have better health if they would practice self-control in eating and drinking.
Some wish that an exact rule could be prescribed for their diet. They overeat, and then regret it, and so they keep thinking about what they eat and drink. This is not as it should be. One person cannot lay down an exact rule for another. Every one should exercise reason and self-control and should act from principle. [LATE SUPPERS PARTICULARLY HARMFUL--270]
Indigestion and Board Meetings
(1902) 7T 257, 258
226. At bountiful tables, men often eat much more than can be easily digested. The overburdened stomach cannot do its work properly. The result is a disagreeable feeling of dullness in the brain, and the mind does not act quickly. Disturbance is created by improper combinations of food; fermentation sets in; the blood is contaminated and the brain confused.
The habit of overeating, or of eating too many kinds of food at one meal, frequently causes dyspepsia. Serious injury in thus done to the delicate digestive organs. In vain the stomach protests, and appeals to the brain to reason from cause to effect. The excessive amount of food eaten, or the
improper combination, does its injurious work. In vain do disagreeable premonitions give warning. Suffering is the consequence. Disease takes the place of health.
Some may ask, What has this to do with board meetings? Very much. The effects of wrong eating are brought into council and board meetings. The brain is affected by the condition of the stomach. A disordered stomach is productive of a disordered, uncertain state of mind. A diseased stomach produces a diseased condition of the brain, and often makes one obstinate in maintaining erroneous opinions. The supposed wisdom of such a one is foolishness with God.
I present this as a cause of the situation in many council and board meetings, where questions demanding careful study have been given but little consideration, and decisions of the greatest importance have been hurriedly made. Often when there should have been unanimity of sentiment in the affirmative, decided negatives have entirely changed the atmosphere pervading a meeting. These results have been presented to me again and again.
I present these matters now because I am instructed to say to my brethren in the ministry, By intemperance in eating, you disqualify yourselves for seeing clearly the difference between sacred and common fire. And by this intemperance you also reveal your disregard for the warnings that the Lord has given you. His word to you is: "Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." ... Shall we not draw near to the Lord, that He may save us from all intemperance in eating and drinking, from all unholy, lustful passion, all wickedness? Shall we not humble ourselves before God, putting away everything that corrupts the flesh and the spirit, that in His fear we may perfect holiness of character?
No Recommendation of Health Reform
(1880) 4T 416, 417
227. Our preachers are not particular enough in regard to their habits of eating. They partake of too large
quantities of food, and of too great a variety at one meal. Some are reformers only in name. They have no rules by which to regulate their diet, but indulge in eating fruit or nuts between their meals, and thus impose too heavy burdens upon the digestive organs. Some eat three meals a day, when two would be more conducive to physical and spiritual health. If the laws which God has made to govern the physical system are violated, the penalty must surely follow.
Because of imprudence in eating, the senses of some seem to be half paralysed, and they are sluggish and sleepy. These pale-faced ministers who are suffering in consequence of selfish indulgence of the appetite, are no recommendation of health reform. When suffering from overwork, it would be much better to drop out a meal occasionally, and thus give nature a chance to rally. Our labourers could do more by their example to advance health reform than by preaching it. When elaborate preparations are made for them by well-meaning friends, they are strongly tempted to disregard principle; but by refusing the dainty dishes, the rich condiments, the tea and coffee, they may prove themselves to be practical health reformers. Some are now suffering in consequence of transgressing the laws of life, thus causing a stigma to rest on the cause of health reform.
Excessive indulgence in eating, drinking, sleeping, or seeing, is sin. The harmonious, healthy action of all the powers of body and mind results in happiness; and the more elevated and refined the powers the more pure and unalloyed the happiness.
Digging Their Graves With Their Teeth
(1880) 4T 408, 409
228. The reason why many of our ministers complain of sickness is, they fail to take sufficient exercise, and indulge in overeating. They do not realise that such a course endangers the strongest constitution. Those who, like yourself, are sluggish in temperament, should eat very sparingly, and not shun physical taxation. Many of our ministers are digging their graves with their teeth. The system,
in taking care of the burden placed upon the digestive organs, suffers, and a severe draft is made upon the brain. For every offense committed against the laws of health, the transgressor must pay the penalty in his own body.