The Amount of Food Taken.
WE have already explained that this should be governed, in part, by the amount of exercise taken, by the condition of the health, by the state of the mind, by the climate, by the season, etc. It remains to add a few words in a general way, respecting the absolute amount required by an adult man.
It is plain enough that most men eat too much. We come very near, in this country, being a nation of gormands. A principal reason of our overeating is, that we eat so fast. When the food is well and slowly masticated and swallowed, the gastric juice has time to mix with it; and at the proper moment the appetite ceases. But when our food is bolted rapidly, nature, finding her laws disregarded, and all her purposes frustrated, stands back, and lets us learn to stop, too late, alas ! from a sense of fullness in a stretched and abused stomach.
It has already been stated that Lewis Cornaro lived fiftyeight years, namely, from the age of fortytwo to one hundred, on twelve ounces of solid food a day, with about the same amount of light wines. At the age of eightyfour he wrote a book, in which he praises "divine temperance" in terms which are sometimes eloquent and often enthusiastic. Indeed it is very rare that a man at that age retains such clearness of intellect, and especially such freshness of feeling as he evinces in his book. Probably but few could live on the amount of food which he found sufficient. Yet it is said the distinguished John Wesley lived on sixteen ounces a day, which, as he took no wine, and had to derive the combustive materials for warming the body from the food, was quite as scanty a fare as that of Cornaro. Considering that he led a most extraordinarily active life, both of body and mind, being half his waking hours in the saddle and preaching almost daily, this is probably the most remarkable case ~of abstemiousness on record. Jonathan Edwards did not, I think, exceed the same amount of food, but he was not so active a man.
Putting aside such exceptional cases as these, we may say in round numbers, that a laboring man requires, to keep him in health, about two or two and a half pounds of solid food per day. For ministers, lawyers, doctors, authors, and merchants, one pound and a half is amply sufficient. The amount should be increased a little by a selection from some of the fuelformers, if no fermented or alcoholic drinks be taken, and slightly diminished if they are used. The reason is that these drinks furnish fuel to be burned in breathing, which has to be drawn from the food when they are not employed. This furnishes no motive for using ardent spirits; for there is fuel enough to be had in the oils, starches, and sugars.
Dyspeptics. It is said that dyspeptics eat more than persons in health; and, in many cases, the remark may be true. The appetite of a person suffering from this disease is almost always morbid, and the information it gives respecting the real wants of the system can seldom be trusted. If we allow a diseased stomach to dictate to us when and what and how much we shall eat and drink, our misery for life is a foregone question. A sick stomach is like a spoiled child, it cries for what it should not have. If the dyspeptic will live, and enjoy any amount of peace and comfort, be must follow this simple rule : To eat no more than can be digested, even though the amount be only an ounce a day.
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