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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/476

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

a giant, two pounds of dates his hunger after a two days' fast. But the beer-drinker swills till he runs over, and the glutton stuffs himself till the oppression of his chest threatens him with suffocation. Their unnatural appetite has no limits but those of their abdominal capacity. Poison-hunger would be a better word than appetite. What they really want is alcohol and hot spices, and, being unable to swallow them "straight," the one takes a bucketful of swill, the other a potful of grease into the bargain.

But gluttony has one other cause—involuntary cramming. Fond mothers often surfeit their babies till they sputter and spew, and it is not less wrong to force a child to eat any particular kind of food against his grain—in disregard of a natural antipathy. Such aversions are allied to the feeling of repletion by which Nature warns the eater to desist, and, if this warning is persistently disregarded, the monitory instinct finally suspends its function; overeating becomes a morbid habit, our system has adapted itself to the abnormal condition, and every deviation from the new routine produces the same feeling of distress which shackles the rum-drinker to his unnatural practice. Avoid pungent spices, do not cram your children against their will, and never fear that natural aliments will tempt them to excess. But I should add here that of absolutely innocuous food—ripe food and simple farinaceous preparations—a larger quantity than is commonly imagined can be habitually taken with perfect freedom from injurious consequences. On the Upper Rhine they have Trauben-Curen—sanitaria where people are fed almost exclusively on ripe grapes in order to purify their blood. The grapes generally used for this purpose are of the variety known as Muskateller, with big, honey-sweet berries of a most enticing flavor. "Doesn't such physic tempt your patients?" I asked the manager of a famous Trauben-Cure; "don't they dose themselves to a damaging extent?" His answer surprised me, "Damaging? Yes, sir," said he, "they damage my pocket, some of them do, though I charge them three florins a day, lodgers five. They can not damage themselves by eating Muskateller."

Never stint the supply of fresh drinking-water. The danger of water-drinking in warm weather has been grossly exaggerated. Cold water and cold air are the two scapegoats that have to bear the burden of our besetting sins. There is, indeed, something preposterous in the idea that Nature would punish us for indulging a natural appetite to its full extent. Sheep that have been fed on dry corn-husks all winter sometimes break into a clover-field and eat till they burst; but who ever heard of a dyspeptic bear, or of an elk prostrated by a fit of gastric spasms? And yet we need not doubt that wild animals eat while their appetite lasts. If we lock them up and deprive them of their wonted exercise, their appetite, too, diminishes. In short, as long as we confine ourselves to our proper diet, our stomachs never call for more than we can digest. There are things that have to be eaten