Counsels on Diet and Food
Part I--Number of Meals

Rest Needed by the Stomach

Letter 73a, 1896 
276. 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. After the stomach has done its work for one meal, do not crowd more work upon it before it has had a chance to rest and before a sufficient supply of gastric juice is provided by nature to care for more food. Five hours at least should elapse between each meal, and always bear in mind that if you would give it a trial, you would find that two meals are better than three.

Eat a Substantial Breakfast

Letter 3, 1884 
268. 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.

Late Suppers

(1905) M.H. 304 
269. 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.

In many cases the faintness that leads to a desire for food is felt because the digestive organs have been too severely taxed during the day. After disposing of one meal, the digestive organs need rest. At least five or six hours should 

174

intervene between the meals; and most persons who give the plan a trial, will find that two meals a day are better than three.

(1865) H. to L., ch. 1, pp. 55-57 
270. Many indulge in the pernicious habit of eating just before sleeping hours. They may have taken three regular meals; yet because they feel a sense of faintness, as though hungry, will eat a lunch or fourth meal. By indulging this wrong practice, it has become a habit, and they feel as though they could not sleep without taking a lunch before retiring. In many cases, the cause of this faintness is because the digestive organs have been already too severely taxed through the day in disposing of unwholesome food forced upon the stomach too frequently, and in too great quantities. The digestive organs thus taxed become weary, and need a period of entire rest from labour to recover their exhausted energies. A second meal should never be eaten until the stomach has had time to rest from the labour of digesting the preceding meal. If a third meal be eaten at all, it should be light, and several hours before going to bed. 

But with many, the poor, tired stomach may complain of weariness in vain. More food is forced upon it, which sets the digestive organs in motion, again to perform the same round of labour through the sleeping hours. The sleep of such is generally disturbed with unpleasant dreams, and in the morning they awake unrefreshed. There is a sense of languor and loss of appetite. A lack of energy is felt through the entire system. In a short time the digestive organs are worn out, for they have had no time to rest. These become miserable dyspeptics, and wonder what has made them so. The cause has brought the sure result. If this practice be indulged in a great length of time, the health will become seriously impaired. The blood becomes impure, the complexion sallow, and eruptions will frequently appear. You will often hear complaints from such, of frequent pains and soreness in the region of the stomach, and while performing labour, the stomach becomes so tired that they are obliged to desist from work, and rest. They seem to be at loss to

175 

account for this state of things; for, setting this aside, they are apparently healthy.

The Cause and Cure of that All-Gone Feeling

Those who are changing from three meals a day, to two, will at first be troubled more or less with faintness, especially about the time they have been in the habit of eating their third meal. But if they persevere for a short time, this faintness will disappear. 

The stomach, when we lie down to rest, should have its work all done, that it may enjoy rest, as well as other portions of the body. The work of digestion should not be carried on through any period of the sleeping hours. After the stomach, which has been overtaxed, has performed its task, it becomes exhausted, which causes faintness. Here many are deceived, and think that it is the want of food which produces such feelings, and without giving the stomach time to rest, they take more food, which for the time removes the faintness. And the more the appetite is indulged, the more will be its clamours for gratification. This faintness is generally the result of meat eating, and eating frequently, and too much. The stomach becomes weary by being kept constantly at work, disposing of food not the most healthful. Having no time for rest, the digestive organs become enfeebled, hence the sense of "goneness," and desire for frequent eating. The remedy such require, is to eat less frequently and less liberally, and be satisfied with plain, simple food, eating twice, or, at most, three times a day. The stomach must have its regular periods for labour and rest; hence eating irregularly and between meals, is a most pernicious violation of the laws of health. With regular habits, and proper food, the stomach will gradually recover.

R. & H., May 8, 1883 
271. The stomach may be so educated as to desire food eight times a day, and feel faint if it is not supplied. But this is no argument in favour of so frequent eating. [AWAKING WITH IMPURE BREATH AND FURRED TONGUE--245]

176

The Two-Meal Plan

(1903) Ed. 205 
272. In most cases, two meals a day are preferable to three. Supper, when taken at an early hour, interferes with the digestion of the previous meal. When taken later, it is not itself digested before bedtime. Thus the stomach fails of securing proper rest. The sleep is disturbed, the brain and nerves are wearied, the appetite for breakfast is impaired, the whole system is unrefreshed, and is unready for the day's duties. [TWO-MEAL PLAN FOR CHILDREN--343,344]

(1905) M.H. 321 
273. The practice of eating but two meals a day is generally found a benefit to health; yet under some circumstances, persons may require a third meal. This should, however, if taken at all, be very light, and of food most easily digested. Crackers--the English biscuit--or zwieback, and fruit, or cereal coffee, are the foods best suited for the evening meal.

[C.T.B.H. 58] (1890) C.H. 156 
274. Most people enjoy better health while eating two meals a day than three; others, under their existing circumstances, may require something to eat at suppertime; but this meal should be very light. Let no one think himself a criterion for all,--that every one must do exactly as he does. 

Never cheat the stomach out of that which health demands, and never abuse it by placing upon it a load which it should not bear. Cultivate self-control. Restrain appetite; keep it under the control of reason. Do not feel it necessary to load down your table with unhealthful food when you have visitors. The health of your family and the influence upon your children should be considered, as well as the habits and tastes of your guests.

(1881) 4T 574 
275. To some it is a temptation too strong to be resisted to see others eat the third meal, and they imagine they are 

177

hungry, when the feeling is not a call of the stomach for food, but a desire of the mind that has not been fortified with firm principle, and disciplined to self-denial. [FOR CONTEXT SEE--260]

As a Remedy for Irritability

(1880) 4T 501, 502 
276. The course of Brother H has not been what it should have been. His likes and dislikes are very strong and he has not kept his own feelings under the control of reason. Brother H, your health is greatly injured by over-eating, and eating at improper times. This causes a determination of blood to the brain. The mind becomes confused, and you have not the proper control of yourself. You appear like a man whose mind is unbalanced. You make strong moves, are easily irritated, and view things in an exaggerated and perverted light. Plenty of exercise in the open air, and an abstemious diet, are essential to your health. You should not eat more than two meals a day. If you feel that you must eat at night, take a drink of cold water, and in the morning you will feel much better for not having eaten.

None to Be Forced to Discard Their Third Meal

Letter 145, 1901 
277. With regard to the diet question, this matter must be handled with such wisdom that no overbearing will appear. It should be shown that to eat two meals is far better for the health than to eat three. But there must be no authoritative forcing seen. No one connected with the sanitarium should be compelled to adopt the two-meal system. Persuasion is more appropriate than force. . . .

The days are now growing shorter, and it will be a good time to present this matter. As the days shorten, let dinner be a little later, and then the third meal will not be felt necessary. 

178

Letter 200, 1902 
278. In regard to the third meal, do not make eating but two meals compulsory. Some do best healthwise when eating three light meals, and when they are restricted to two, they feel the change severely. [POSSIBILITY OF HARM THROUGH DISCARDING THIRD MEAL AT OUR SANITARIUMS--424]

Not to Be a Test

Letter 30, 1903 
279. I eat only two meals a day. But I do not think that the number of meals should be made a test. If there are those who are better in health when eating three meals, it is their privilege to have three. I choose two meals. For thirty-five years I have practised the two-meal system.

Objectionable Results of Enforcing the Two-Meal Plan in Training Schools

Letter 141, 1899 
280. The impression is upon many minds that the diet question is being carried to extremes. When students combine physical and mental taxation, so largely as they do at this school (Avondale), the objection to the third meal is to a great extent removed. Then no one needs to feel abused. Those who conscientiously eat only two meals need not change in this at all. . . .

The fact that some, teachers and students, have the privilege of eating in their rooms, is not creating a healthful influence. There must be harmonious action in the conducting of meals. If those who only eat two meals have the idea that they must eat enough at the second meal to answer for the third meal also, they will injure their digestive organs. Let the students have the third meal, prepared without vegetables, but with simple, wholesome food, such as fruit and bread. [FOR MINISTERS TWO MEALS MORE CONDUCIVE TO PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL HEALTH--227] [TWO-MEAL PLAN FOLLOWED BY E. G. WHITE--APPENDIX I:4, 5, 20, 22, 23] [MRS. WHITE'S TABLE SET TWICE A DAY--27]

179

Part II--Eating Between Meals

The Importance of Regularity

MS 1, 1876 
281. 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.

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 new work. Thus the system is overtaxed.

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.

(1905) M.H. 303, 304 
282. Regularity in eating is of vital importance. There should be a specified time for each meal. At this time, let every one eat what the system requires, and then take nothing more until the next meal. There are many who eat when the system needs no food, at irregular intervals, and between meals, because they have not sufficient strength of will to resist inclination. When travelling, some are constantly nibbling if anything eatable is within their reach. This is very injurious. If travellers would eat regularly of food that is simple and nutritious, they would not feel so great weariness, nor suffer so much from sickness. 180

(1905) M.H. 384 
283. Regularity in eating should be carefully observed. Nothing should be eaten between meals, no confectionery, nuts, fruits, or food of any kind. Irregularities in eating destroy the healthful tone of the digestive organs, to the detriment of health and cheerfulness. And when the children come to the table, they do not relish wholesome food; their appetites crave that which is hurtful for them.

(1870) 2T 485 
284. There has not been in this family the right management in regard to diet; there has been irregularity. There should have been a specified time for each meal, and the food should have been prepared in a simple form, and free from grease; but pains should have been taken to have it nutritious, healthful, and inviting. In this family, as also in many others, a special parade has been made for visitors; many dishes prepared and frequently made too rich, so that those seated at the table would be tempted to eat to excess. Then in the absence of company there was a great reaction, a falling off in the preparations brought on the table. The diet was spare, and lacked nourishment. It was considered not so much matter "just for ourselves." The meals were frequently picked up, and the regular time for eating not regarded. Every member of the family was injured by such management. It is a sin for any of our sisters to make such great preparations for visitors, and wrong their own families by a spare diet which will fail to nourish the system.

(1869) 2T 373 
285. I am astonished to learn that, after all the light that has been given in this place, many of you eat between meals! You should never let a morsel pass your lips between your regular meals. Eat what you ought, but eat it at one meal, and then wait until the next.

[C.T.B.H. 50] (1890) C.H. 118 
286. Many turn from light and knowledge, and sacrifice principle to taste. They eat when the system needs no food, and at irregular intervals, because they have no moral

181

stamina to resist inclination. As the result, the abused stomach rebels, and suffering follows. Regularity in eating is very important for health of body and serenity of mind. Never should a morsel of food pass the lips between meals. 

(1869) 2T 374 
287. 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.

Health Reformer, May, 1877 
288. 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. [IMPORTANCE TO CHILDREN OF REGULARITY IN DIET--343, 344, 345, 346, 348]

(1875) 3T 564 
289. Many parents, to avoid the task of patiently educating their children to habits of self-denial, and teaching them how to make a right use of all the blessings of God, indulge them in eating and drinking whenever they please. Appetite and selfish indulgence, unless positively restrained, grow with the growth and strengthen with the strength. [FOR CONTEXT SEE 347]

R. & H., July 29, 1884 
290. It is quite a common custom with people of the world to eat three times a day, beside eating at irregular intervals between meals; and the last meal is generally the most hearty, and is often taken just before retiring. This is reversing the natural order; a hearty meal should never be taken so late in the day. Should these persons change 

182

their practice, and eat but two meals a day, and nothing between meals, not even an apple, a nut, or any kind of fruit, the result would be seen in a good appetite and greatly improved health.

R. & H., July 29, 1884 
291. When travelling, some are almost constantly nibbling, if there is anything within their reach. This is a most pernicious practice. Animals that do not have reason, and that know nothing of mental taxation, may do this without injury, but they are no criterion for rational beings, who have mental powers that should be used for God and humanity.

Health Reformer, June, 1878 
292. Gluttonous feasts, and food taken into the stomach at untimely seasons, leave an influence upon every fibre of the system.

(1892) G.W. 174 (old edition) 
293. Many eat at all hours, regardless of the laws of health. Then gloom covers the mind. How can men be honoured with divine enlightenment, when they are so reckless in their habits, so inattentive to the light which God has given in regard to these things? Brethren, is it not time for you to be converted on these points of selfish indulgence?

R. & H., May 8, 1883 294. Three meals a day and nothing between meals--not even an apple--should be the utmost limit of indulgence. Those who go further violate nature's laws and will suffer the penalty. [MINISTERS WHO DISREGARD THIS RULE--227] [EATING BETWEEN MEALS AT CAMP MEETINGS--124] [CHILDREN SHOULD NOT EAT CANDIES, FRUITS, NUTS, OR ANYTHING BETWEEN MEALS--344] [ALLOWING CHILDREN TO EAT AT ANY HOUR--348, 355, 361] [RESULTS TO STUDENTS--246]