We intend to leave the matter of the choice of food an open question with our students. While, personally, we prefer certain kinds of food, believing that the best results are obtained from the use thereof, we recognize the fact that it is impossible to change the habits of a lifetime (yes, of many generations) in a day, and man must be guided by his own experience and his growing knowledge, rather than by dogmatic utterances of others.
The Yogis prefer a non-animal diet, both from hygienic reasons and the Oriental aversion to eating the flesh of animals. The more advanced of the Yogi students prefer a diet of fruit, nuts, olive oil, etc., together with a form of unleavened bread made from the entire wheat. But when they travel among those who follow different dietary rules from themselves they do not hesitate to adapt themselves to the changed conditions, to a greater or less extent, and do not render themselves a burden to their hosts, knowing that if they follow the Yogi plan of masticating their food slowly their stomachs will take good care of what they eat. In fact, some of the most indigestible things in the modern menu may be safely eaten if the above mentioned system is adopted.
And we write this chapter in the spirit of the traveling Yogi. We have no wish to force arbitrary rules upon our students. Man must grow into a more rational method of eating, rather than have it forced upon him suddenly. It is hard for one to adopt a non-meat diet, if he has been used to animal flesh all his life, and it is equally difficult for one to take up an uncooked dietary list, if he has been eating cooked dishes all his life. All we ask of you is to think a little on the subject and to trust your own instinct regarding the choice of food, giving yourself as great a variety as possible. The instinct, if trusted, will usually cause you to select that which you need for that particular meal, and we would prefer to trust the instinct rather than to bind ourselves to any fixed, unchangeable dietary. Eat pretty much what you feel like, providing you masticate it thoroughly and slowly, and give yourself a wide range of choice. We will speak, in this chapter, of a few things which the rational man will avoid, but will do so merely in the way of general advice. In the matter of non-meat eating, we believe that mankind will gradually grow to feel that meat is not its proper diet, but we believe that one must outgrow that feeling, rather than to have it beaten out of him, for if he “longs” for the flesh-pots of Egypt, it is about as bad as if he really participated in the feast. Man will cease to desire meat, as he grows, but until that time comes, any forced restraint of the meat habit will not do him much good. We are aware that this will be considered heterodox by many of our readers, but we cannot help that factâ€”our statements will stand the test of experience.
If our students are interested in the question of the relative advantages of particular kinds of foods, let them read some of the very good works which have been written upon the subject of recent years. But let them read upon the several sides of the question, and avoid being carried away by the particular fad of the writer whose book is before them. It is instructive and interesting to read of the comparative food values of the various articles upon our tables, and such knowledge will gradually tend to a more rational dietary. But such changes must be the result of thought and experience, rather than upon the mere say so of some person riding a hobby. We suggest that our students consider whether or not they are eating too much meat; whether they are living upon too much fat and grease; whether they are eating enough fruit; whether whole wheat bread would not be a good addition to their bill of fare; whether they are not indulging in too much pastry and “made dishes.” If we were asked to give them a general rule regarding eating we would be apt to say “eat a variety of foods; avoid ‘rich’ dishes; do not eat too much fat; beware of the frying-pan; do not eat too much meat; avoid, especially, pig meat and veal; let your general habit of eating tend toward the simple, plain fare, rather than towards the elaborate dishes; go slow on pastry; cut out hot cakes from your list; masticate thoroughly and slowly, according to the plan we have given you; don’t be afraid of food, if you eat it properly it will not hurt you, providing you do not fear it.”
We think it better to make the first meal of the day a light one, as there is very little waste to repair in the morning, as the body has been at rest all night. If possible, take a little exercise before breakfast.
If you once return to the natural habit of proper mastication, and experience the sensation that comes from proper eating, the abnormal appetites which have been acquired, will fall from you, and natural hunger will return. When natural hunger is with you, the instinct will be very keen in picking out nutritious food for you, and you will feel inclined toward that which will give you just the nourishment you need at any particular time. Man’s instinct is a good guide, providing it has not been spoiled by the indulgence in the absurd dishes so common in these days, which create false appetite.
If you feel “out of sorts,” do not be afraid to “cut out” a meal, and give the stomach a chance to get rid of what it has on hand. One can go without eating for a number of days without danger, although we do not advise prolonged fasts. We feel, however, that in sick-ness it is wise to give the stomach a rest, in order that the recuperative energy may be directed toward the casting out of the waste matter which has been causing the trouble. You will notice that the animals stop eating while they are sick, and lie around until health is restored, when they return to their meals. We may take this lesson from them with considerable profit.
We do not wish students to become “food cranks” who weigh, measure and analyze every mouthful of food. We consider this an abnormal method and believe that such a course generates fear-thought and fills the Instinctive mind with all sorts of erroneous ideas. We think it a much better plan to use ordinary precautions and judgment in the selection of one’s food, and then to bother no more about the matter, but eat with the thought of nourishment and strength in your minds, masticating the food as we have stated, and knowing that nature will do its work well. Keep as close to nature as possible, and let her plans be your standard of measurement. The strong, healthy man is not afraid of his food, and neither should be the man who wishes to be healthy. Keep cheerful, breathe properly, eat properly, live properly, and you will not have occasion to make a chemical analysis of every mouthful of food. Do not be afraid to trust to your instinct, for that is the natural man’s guide, after all.