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Number of Meals and Distance Apart

Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
Preventive Medicine

"The stomach may be so educated as to desire food eight times a day, and feel faint if it is not supplied. But this is no argument in favor of so frequent eating.'' CDF 175."

Three meals a day and nothing between meals - not even an apple - should be the utmost limit of indulgence. MH 303.

"Those who go farther violate nature's laws and will suffer the penalty." HL 86.

The Preferred Practice

"In most cases, two meals are preferable to three. Supper, when taken at an early hour, interferes with the digestion of the previous meal. When taken later, it is not itself digested before bedtime. Thus the stomach fails of securing proper rest. The sleep is disturbed, the brain and nerves are wearied, the appetite for breakfast is impaired, the whole system is unrefreshed, and is unready for the day's duties." CDF 176.

"When we lie down to rest, the stomach should have its work all done, that it, as well as the other organs of the body, may enjoy rest." MH 303.

Number of Hours between Meals

"After disposing of one meal, the digestive organs need rest. At least five or six hours should intervene between the meals; and most persons who give the plan a trial, will find that two meals a day are better than three." CDF 173, 174.

"It is plain that two meals a day are better than three. I believe and practice this, but I have no "Thus saith the Lord" that it is wrong for some to eat the third meal... God's word has not specified any set hours when food should be eaten." MM 284.

"Most people enjoy better health while eating two meals a day than three; others, under their existing circumstances, may require something to eat at suppertime; but this meal should be very light. Let no one think himself a criterion for all - that everyone must do exactly as he does." CDF 176.

"We must remember that while there are some who are better for eating only two meals, there are others who eat lightly at each meal, and who feel that they need something in the evening." MM 284.

Practice and Technique

"You should not eat more than two meals a day. If you feel that you must eat at night, take a drink of cold water, and in the morning you will feel much better for not having eaten." 4T 502.

"Those who are changing from three meals a day, to two, will at first be troubled more or less with faintness, especially about the time they have been in the habit of eating their third meal. But if they persevere for a short time, this faintness will disappear." CDF 175.

"The days are now growing shorter and it will be a good time to present this matter. As the days shorten, let dinner be a little later, and then the third meal will not be felt necessary." CDF 117.

"If those who only eat two meals have the idea that they must eat enough at the second meal to answer for the third meal also, they will injure their digestive organs." CDF 178.

Discipline in Self Control

"Few have moral stamina to resist temptation, especially of the appetite, and to practice self-denial. To some it is a temptation too strong to be resisted to see others eat the third meal; and they imagine they are hungry, when the feeling is not a call of the stomach for food, but a desire of the mind that has not been fortified with firm principle, and disciplined to self-denial. The walls of self-control and self-restriction should not in a single instance be weakened and broken down. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, says "I keep under my body and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others. I myself should be a castaway." Those who do not overcome in little things, will have no moral power to withstand greater temptations." CDF 168.

"It is the custom and order of society to take a slight breakfast. But this is not the best way to treat the stomach. At breakfast time the stomach is in better condition to take care of more food than at the second or third meal of the day. The habit of eating a sparing breakfast and a large dinner is wrong. Make your breakfast correspond more nearly to the heartiest meal of the day." CDF 173.

"The benefit derived from food does not depend so much on the quantity eaten, as on its thorough digestion; nor the gratification of taste so much on the amount of food swallowed, as on the length of time it remains in the mouth." CTBH 51, 52.

Result of Two-Meal Plan

"For more than forty years I have eaten but two meals a day. And if I have a specially important work to do, I limit the quantity of food that I take." CDF 492.

"Labor, physical or mental, may throw the blood to the brain, and the weary man may go to rest with aching head. But if his stomach be not loaded with the third meal, and if the entire man be permitted to enjoy rest while he sleeps, the blood will retire from the head, and he will awake in the morning free from pain, rested and not only the restoring influence of sweet sleep in his entire being, but he is in possession of a moral benefit which is beyond price. He wakes with a clean stomach, a clear head, a free heart, a clear conscience (if he deals justly, loves mercy, and walks humbly with God), and a buoyant spirit. The language of his soul is 'Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.'

"Thousands have testified to the benefits of the changes they have made. They report better health, and an increase of physical strength. Ask them if they can perform as much labor without meat and without the third meal as they could before they made these changes, and they will tell you that since their present habits have become fully established, they can endure more labor, and that they enjoy life much better. This is the experience of all, professional or laboring men." CTBH 216. (James White)

"There is no good excuse for a habitual morning headache. When you sleep, let the stomach rest, as well as all other parts of the system. Take two full, healthful meals each day, and let all your other habits be temperate and correct, and we shall hear as little of headache as of handache or footache. (James White)

"One of the first results which I observed upon the change made in my diet, was that my food had once more the keen relish which I can remember it possessed in my childhood, but which it had long since lost.

"Headache, dizziness, nausea, and the like, were gone.

"But several months elapsed before I found any increase of strength. Nor is this strange when I state that, though I made so great a change in my living, and withal omitted the third meal, I did, nevertheless, continue my labors as before the change. But after some months I became sensible of an increase of strength, and this continued to be the case till I could say in strict truth that I possessed greater strength and power of endurance than at any former period of my life.

"One of the immediate consequences of omitting my third meal was entire freedom from morning faintness. When I dispensed with suppers, I also closed my acquaintance with what seemed to be a living creature gnawing in my stomach each morning before breakfast. I thus found that it was not the lack of food of which my stomach complained, but quite the reverse. It had toiled all night to dispose of the supper, when it should have had rest.

"And as to the strength derived from a hygienic diet, I have this testimony to bear, that whereas I often suffered from faintness under the common method of living, I have no recollection of one case of this kind in my own experience for the whole period of my present course of life. I have often remarked that I can omit one of my two meals with less inconvenience than formerly I could one of the three." CTBH 266, 267. (J. N. Andrews)

"We have, as an occasional experiment, changed the number of their daily meals from two to three; but the result was not good. In the morning their breath was offensive; and after testing the matter for a few weeks, we were thoroughly convinced that the children were better upon two meals a day than upon three; and we therefore returned to our former system, with marked improvement in the health of the children as a result." HEALTH REFORMER, May 1877. (EGW)

"Five hours at least should elapse between each meal, and always bear in mind that if you would give it a trial, you would find that two meals are better than three." CDF 173.

"As a result of eating late suppers, the digestive process is continued through the sleeping hours. But though the stomach works constantly, its work is not properly accomplished. The sleep is often disturbed with unpleasant dreams, and in the morning the person awakes unrefreshed, and with little relish for breakfast. When we lie down to rest, the stomach should have its work all done, that it, as well as the other organs of the body, may enjoy rest. For persons of sedentary habits, late suppers are particularly harmful. With them the disturbance created is often the beginning of disease that ends in death." MH 303, 304.

"It is quite a common custom with people of the world to eat three times a day, beside eating at irregular intervals between meals; and the last meal is generally the most hearty, and is often taken just before retiring. This is reversing the natural order; a hearty meal should never be taken so late in the day." CDF 181 (R & H, July 29, 1884).

"The stomach, when we lie down to rest, should have its work all done, that it may enjoy rest, as well as other portions of the body. The work of digestion should not be carried on through any period of the sleeping hours. After the stomach, which has been overtaxed, has performed its task, it becomes exhausted, which causes faintness. Here many are deceived, and think that it is the want of food which produces such feelings, and without giving the stomach time to rest, they take more food, which for the time removes the faintness. And the more the appetite is indulged, the more will be its clamors for gratification." HOW TO LIVE, ch. 1, p. 56.

"The first education that children should receive from the mother in infancy should be in regard to their physical health. They should be allowed only plain food, of that quality that would preserve to them the best condition of health, and that should be partaken of only at regular periods, not oftener than three times a day, and two meals would be better than three. If children are disciplined aright, they will soon learn they can receive nothing by crying and fretting. A judicious mother will act in training her children, not merely in regard to her own present comfort, but for their future good. And to this end she will teach her children the important lesson of controlling the appetite, and of self-denial, that they should eat, drink, and dress in reference to health." HOW TO LIVE, ch. 2, p. 47, HL 146.

"Our preachers are not particular enough in regard to their habits of eating. They partake of too large quantities of food, and of too great a variety at one meal. Some are reformers only in name. They have no rules by which to regulate their diet, but indulge in eating fruit or nuts between their meals, and thus impose too heavy burdens upon the digestive organs. Some eat three meals a day, when two would be more conducive to physical and spiritual health. If the laws which God has made to govern the physical system are violated, the penalty must surely follow." CDF 140, 141.

"Gluttonous feasts, and food taken into the stomach at untimely seasons, leave an influence upon every fiber of the system." CDF 182.

"Our table is set twice a day, but if there are those who desire something to eat in the evening, there is no rule that forbids them from getting it. No one complains or goes from our table dissatisfied." CDF 491.

"If man will cherish the light God in mercy gives him upon health reform, he may be sanctified through the truth and fitted for immortality. If he disregards light and lives in violation of natural law, he must pay the penalty." HEALTH REFORMER, Oct. 1872.

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