CHAPTER IX. WHEN TO EAT.
You cannot build and maintain a perfectly healthy body by mental action
alone, or by the performance of the unconscious or involuntary functions
alone. There are certain actions, more or less voluntary, which have a
direct and immediate relation with the continuance of life itself; these
are eating, drinking, breathing, and sleeping. No matter what man's
thought or mental attitude may be, he cannot live unless he eats,
drinks, breathes, and sleeps; and, moreover, he cannot be well if he
eats, drinks, breathes, and sleeps in an unnatural or wrong manner. It
is therefore vitally important that you should learn the right way to
perform these voluntary functions, and I shall proceed to show you this
way, beginning with the matter of eating, which is most important.
There has been a vast amount of controversy as to when to eat, what to
eat, how to eat, and how much to eat; and all this controversy is
unnecessary, for the Right Way is very easy to find. You have only to
consider the Law which governs all attainment, whether of health,
wealth, power, or happiness; and that law is _that you must do what you
can do now, where you are now; do every separate act in the most perfect
manner possible, and put the power of faith into every action_.
The processes of digestion and assimilation are under the supervision
and control of an inner division of man's mentality, which is generally
called the sub-conscious mind; and I shall use that term here in order
to be understood. The sub-conscious mind is in charge of all the
functions and processes of life; and when more food is needed by the
body, it makes the fact known by causing a sensation called hunger.
Whenever food is needed, and can be used, there is hunger; and whenever
there is hunger it is time to eat. When there is no hunger it is
unnatural and wrong to eat, no matter how great may APPEAR to be the
need for food. Even if you are in a condition of apparent starvation,
with great emaciation, if there is no hunger you may know that FOOD
CANNOT BE USED, and it will be unnatural and wrong for you to eat.
Though you have not eaten for days, weeks, or months, if you have no
hunger you may be perfectly sure that food cannot be used, and will
probably not be used if taken. Whenever food is needed, if there is
power to digest and assimilate it, so that it can be normally used, the
sub-conscious mind will announce the fact by a decided hunger. Food,
taken when there is no hunger, will sometimes be digested and
assimilated, because Nature makes a special effort to perform the task
which is thrust upon her against her will; but if food be habitually
taken when there is no hunger, the digestive power is at last destroyed,
and numberless evils caused.
If the foregoing be true--and it is indisputably so--it is a
self-evident proposition that the natural time, and the healthy time, to
eat is when one is hungry; and that it is never a natural or a healthy
action to eat when one is not hungry. You see, then, that it is an easy
matter to scientifically settle the question when to eat. ALWAYS eat
when you are hungry; and NEVER eat when you are not hungry. This is
obedience to nature, which is obedience to God.
We must not fail, however, to make clear the distinction between hunger
and appetite. Hunger is the call of the sub-conscious mind for more
material to be used in repairing and renewing the body, and in keeping
up the internal heat; and hunger is never felt unless there is need for
more material, and unless there is power to digest it when taken into
the stomach. Appetite is a desire for the gratification of sensation.
The drunkard has an appetite for liquor, but he cannot have a hunger for
it. A normally fed person cannot have a hunger for candy or sweets; the
desire for these things is an appetite. You cannot hunger for tea,
coffee, spiced foods, or for the various taste-tempting devices of the
skilled cook; if you desire these things, it is with appetite, not with
hunger. Hunger is nature's call for material to be used in building new
cells, and nature never calls for anything which may not be legitimately
used for this purpose.
Appetite is often largely a matter of habit; if one eats or drinks at a
certain hour, and especially if one takes sweetened or spiced and
stimulating foods, the desire comes regularly at the same hour; but this
habitual desire for food should never be mistaken for hunger. Hunger
does not appear at specified times. It only comes when work or exercise
has destroyed sufficient tissue to make the taking in of new raw
material a necessity.
For instance, if a person has been sufficiently fed on the preceding
day, it is impossible that he should feel a genuine hunger on arising
from refreshing sleep. In sleep the body is recharged with vital power,
and the assimilation of the food which has been taken during the day is
completed; the system has no need for food immediately after sleep,
unless the person went to his rest in a state of starvation. With a
system of feeding, which is even a reasonable approach to a natural one,
no one can have a real hunger for an early morning breakfast. There is
no such thing possible as a normal or genuine hunger immediately after
arising from sound sleep. The early morning breakfast is always taken to
gratify appetite, never to satisfy hunger. No matter who you are, or
what your condition is; no matter how hard you work, or how much you are
exposed, unless you go to your bed starved, you cannot arise from your
Hunger is not caused by sleep, but by work. And it does not matter who
you are, or what your condition, or how hard or easy your work, the
so-called no-breakfast plan is the right plan for you. It is the right
plan for everybody, because it is based on the universal law that hunger
never comes until it is EARNED.
I am aware that a protest against this will come from the large number
of people who "enjoy" their breakfasts; whose breakfast is their "best
meal"; who believe that their work is so hard that they cannot "get
through the forenoon on an empty stomach," and so on. But all their
arguments fall down before the facts. They enjoy their breakfast as the
toper enjoys his morning dram, because it gratifies a habitual appetite
and not because it supplies a natural want. It is their best meal for
the same reason that his morning dram is the toper's best drink. And
they CAN get along without it, because millions of people, of every
trade and profession, DO get along without it, and are vastly better for
doing so. If you are to live according to the Science of Being Well, you
must NEVER EAT UNTIL YOU HAVE AN EARNED HUNGER.
But if I do not eat on arising in the morning, when shall I take my
In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred twelve o'clock, noon, is early
enough; and it is generally the most convenient time. If you are doing
heavy work, you will get by noon a hunger sufficient to justify a
good-sized meal; and if your work is light, you will probably still have
hunger enough for a moderate meal. The best general rule or law that can
be laid down is that you should eat your first meal of the day at noon,
if you are hungry; and if you are not hungry, wait until you become so.
And when shall I eat my second meal?
Not at all, unless you are hungry for it; and that with a genuine earned
hunger. If you do get hungry for a second meal, eat at the most
convenient time; but do not eat until you have a really earned hunger.
The reader who wishes to fully inform himself as to the reasons for this
way of arranging the mealtimes will find the best books thereon cited in
the preface to this work. From the foregoing, however, you can easily
see that the Science of Being Well readily answers the question: When,
and how often shall I eat? The answer is: Eat when you have an earned
hunger; and never eat at any other time.