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Instructions on Eating

Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
Preventive Medicine

X-ray studies have been conducted to determine the emptying time of the normal stomach. Anything remaining in the stomach five hours after a test meal is abnormal. The stomach usually empties itself in 2.5 to 4 hours. Series of tests have been run in which persons have been given routine breakfasts consisting of cereal and cream, bread, cooked fruit, and an egg. These stomachs were X-rayed and found to be emptied normally in less than 4.5 hours.

A few days later, these same persons were given the same type of breakfast. Two hours after breakfast, one had an ice cream cone. He was found to have residue in his stomach after 6 hours. Another was given a peanut butter sandwich 2 hours after breakfast. He was found to have residue after 9 hours. A third was given a piece of pumpkin pie and a glass of milk 2 hours after breakfast. He was observed to have a large amount of residue after 9 hours. The fourth was given a half slice of bread and butter 1.5 hours after breakfast, repeated every 1.5 hours thereafter, but no dinner. It was found that more than half of his breakfast was still in his stomach after 9 hours.

The fifth subject was given a routine breakfast at 8:00 am. Twice during the morning and twice during the afternoon, a bite of chocolate candy was given. At 9:30 pm, 13.5 hours after breakfast, more than half of the morning meal was still in the stomach.

Eating between meals alters normal function of the stomach and lessens the efficiency of mind, body, and emotions. Many of the chemicals produced during partial digestion are toxic, such as aldehydes, alcohols, amines, and esters. These cause an intoxication of brain, liver, kidneys, and other delicate tissues.

Probably the key to regularity in eating lies in having a good breakfast. When the morning meal is omitted, one tends to become hungry before noon and to resort to a snack. The snack slackens the appetite for lunch, less is eaten, but before long hunger returns. Snacking in the afternoon seems to be the logical solution. There is no desire for food at 6:00 pm, so dinner is delayed until later. Then there may be more snacking before retiring. At bedtime, much food remains partially digested to prevent the digestive organs from benefiting from the sleep. One arises, having slept the sleep of the drugged, but is still unrefreshed.

The best routine is to eat breakfast within 3 hours of arising, wait at least 5 hours (preferably 6 to 7) before having lunch. Again, wait 5 hours before supper, and have a light supper of fruit and grains, taken several hours before bedtime. If at all possible, the third meal, even though only of fruit and grains, should be omitted entirely. It may take several months (up to 6) to develop the habit of omitting the evening meal. Those who have the stamina to persist will find it a great benefit to the life to have the extra strength which would be expended in digesting the third meal.

By carefully heeding the following instructions, you may avoid many illnesses:

  • Eat largely of fruits and vegetables prepared in a natural yet tasty way.
  • Vary your diet from meal to meal, but do not eat too many varieties at any one meal. Keep both the meals and the dishes simple.
  • Use more of the whole grains, such as whole wheat bread, rye bread, and oatmeal, and less food prepared from refined white flour or bolted cornmeal. Cooked cereals are better than the boxed dry cereals, except for granola made without honey or sugar.
  • Limit rich foods, keeping sugars to 3 teaspoons daily, salt to half a teaspoon, and oil to 2 tablespoons. Avoid spices, greases (especially lard), fried foods, baking powder and soda, and vinegar. Fruit juices and concentrated foods should be taken in small quantities.
  • Eat at the same mealtime daily, and allow at least 5 hours from the end of one meal to the beginning of the next. The digestive systems is accurately timed and does the most efficient work when kept on a regular schedule.
  • Do not eat even a peanut between meals. Eating between meals slows stomach emptying, giving time for partially digested food already in the stomach to ferment.
  • Eat a substantial breakfast, the largest meal of the day. If eaten at all, supper should be light (fruit and whole grains, such as an apple and rye crisps), and this 2 or 3 hours or more before retiring.
  • Eat all you need to maintain health. Enjoy your food, but don't overeat. Too much food dulls and depresses the mind, causes disease and fatigue, and shortens life.
  • Eating slowly and chewing your food thoroughly will increase the enjoyment as well as the nutritional benefits derived from it. Mealtime should be pleasant and unhurried.
  • Drink enough water daily to keep the urine quite pale; but do not drink with your meals or immediately before or after them.
  • Skip 1 to 4 meals periodically. Fasting is an aid in educating the appetite and a rehearsal in self-control. It is the best remedy in many cases for sickness, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol, especially for sedentary people.

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