Harper’s Bazar – December 21, 1867
The appetite for food has been conferred upon man, as upon other animals, not only to delight his taste, but to nourish his body. With the usual tendency, however, of human beings to seek a temporary and immediate pleasure, we too often neglect a permanent and remote good. This is especially observable in our eating and drinking. The tempting morsel or seductive draught, offered whenever it may be, is taken with avidity, without any regard to its possible effect upon the future health. There is, however, no more frequent cause of serious disease than this irregular eating and drinking.
The human, as well as other animal bodies, to be properly nourished, must be fed in accordance with those laws which, Nature herself having established, can not be disobeyed without suffering the usual penalty of ill-health.
Physiology teaches us that most articles of food require from three to four hours to digest, and that any interference with this function will seriously derange its operation. Now when it has once commenced nothing is more fatal to its action than the introduction into the stomach of fresh food. This gives the organ a new and difficult labor to perform, and thus doubles at once its work. “The stomach,” as Sir Astley Cooper candidly acknowledged, “is not a Wedgewood mortar,” but a living organism, which can indeed withstand a great deal of use, but not abuse.
To escape dyspepsia and the thousand other ailments which arise from the disobedience of the laws of digestion it is absolutely necessary to eat and drink only at regular periods. It is always unsafe to take any food whatsoever between meals. The ordinary arrangement of these in well-regulated households is the best — say three repasts a day, separated from each other by intervals of five hours. This gives time not only for the full completion of the process of digestion, but for that repose essential to the recovery by the stomach of its strength, which is necessary for the renewal of its duties.
The habit so prevalent among American women of frequenting the confectioner and pastry-cook is one which is telling seriously upon their health. It is not that a bonbon, an ice-cream, or a tart, is directly injurious, for these, when taken at the proper time, are not necessarily unwholesome articles of food. They are, however, seldom taken at the proper time, but eaten too soon after or before the daily meals. They thus either interfere with digestion or exhaust the appetite, and prevent it from satisfying itself with more solid food, essential to the nutrition and health of the body.
Some young dames think it doubtless more delicate to feed like nightingales on a flimsy diet of sweets. They can thus pleasantly gratify their appetites at the counter of the confectioner, and at the table refuse, with an elegant disdain, the solidities of roast beef and pudding. Their young admirers, with an aversion, like Lord Byron, to seeing a woman eat, may be charmed at their languid use of knife and fork. If they will listen, however, to the old family doctor he will tell them that every dame, delicate as she may be, has a stomach which is carnivorous, and not bonbonivorous. If our pretty young women desire to preserve their health and beauty we recommend them to make their regular appearance at each family meal, and take their fair share of unsentimental but wholesome grub, and not disturb their digestion or waste their appetites at the confectioner’s or pastry-cook’s.
Unknown, (December 21, 1867). Waste of Appetite. Harper’s Bazar. Vol. 1 (8), 114. Retrieved from http://victoriantimes.us/health/waste-of-appetite