Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/416

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

ill health may, and does, vitiate both. Instinctive desires are always present, if not obscured, and can be trusted.

Varying conditions of the body, fatigue, emotion, exercise, indolence and the like, make conditions which influence choice at a meal, both of articles and amounts, which demand obedience. Not one mouthful more than nature craves should be swallowed. Certain rules obtain as to times of eating, and sequences of dishes, to which we must conform, but it is entirely possible to do so with judicious selections and rejections. Age makes much difference in all this. In middle life, and later, a small amount of food will suffice for all requirements. The greatest safeguard lies in cultivating the tastes of earlier and simpler years, bearing in mind that in the period of full development we eat to maintain life with little need to develop structures, unless acute or prolonged illness has caused unusual destruction demanding repair. Forcing the appetite may be at times needful, but it is always a peril unless advised by a physician. When in doubt, go hungry for a day. Thus will the whole array of disorders of metabolism, gout, diabetes and the like be limited. Careful preparation of food is desirable, but superior cooking is secondary to many other considerations. Simplicity in preparation comes next to cleanliness, and soundness is of course to be assumed as necessary, particularly in articles of the more perishable sort. It is well to avoid adventitious aids to flavoring such as tricks of combination and overmuch condiments. These irritate the organs of perception and ultimately impair both digestive vigor and the sense of taste. By far the most important rule to observe is that all food shall be most deliberately masticated and each mouthful involuntarily swallowed before any more be taken into the mouth. This holds good for fluid foods, especially for milk.

Finally, one word as to fluids with meals. Digestion is a process of solution by hydration and about a glassful of water is needed at each meal. Fluids taken before or after meals are ordinarily permissible. If any is taken during the meal at least no partly masticated food should be in the mouth to be 'washed down.' If so it has not been sufficiently comminuted or insalivated, and does not enter the stomach in perfect condition for assimilation.

One word as to the effects of the corset. The use of the corset we may be compelled to accept as a feminine necessity, but if so it argues for the wearer a loss of normal tissue vigor much to be deplored. As an auxiliary to modern dress, which fashion dictates shall be close-fitting around the waist, we have little to say, but as a support to the abdominal structures, a remark is justified. There is no essential demand for artificial aid to sustain the abdominal organs, but if such need is felt to exist, it is, and can only be, duo to consciousness of a structural defect. This has been demonstrated repeatedly in many