Fad diets? Nature is the best food specialist (1914)

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Vintage vegetables and fruits

Nature is the best food specialist; appetite best advice

by Herbert Quick

A Cleveland physician recommends red pepper as a very important element of the diet. Some poultry raisers say it will make hens lay. Intelligent people, however, know that what makes hens lay is the presence of eggs in the hen, and good health. And good health comes, not from red pepper, but good food and good surroundings.

Health “specialists” recommend everything for the health. They say it is good to swallow sand. But it is also good to eat nothing but vegetable food. [Horace] Fletcher wants us to chew I forgot how many times before swallowing. And there are just as good authorities as Fletcher who prove by very convincing arguments that the dog is the best model on which to found our dietetics.

The dog prefers animal food, and will eat that alone if he can get it. Instead of chewing his food, he bites off great lumps, swallows them, and lets nature take its course. He wouldn’t eat red pepper under any circumstances.

The fact is that nobody knows what is good for us to eat, or how we should eat it. The most ignorant day laborer knows better what is good for him than any hygienic expert with a queue of capital letters tied to his name.

Vintage vegetables and fruits

We do know that the system needs a balanced ration — that is, we should eat proteins, fats and carbohydrates in certain generally-balanced proportions. If one doesn’t do this, all the damage that is done is that the excess of the one taken in too great plenty is lost.

It doesn’t hurt us if the ration be out of balance if, on the whole, we get enough of each. And we need no advice in the matter if we have the money to buy what we like. We eat the pork with the beans, the meat with the potatoes, the syrup with the cakes, the butter on the bread, the salad after the roast, and the nuts to balance the soup without any expert advice.

Nature gives us the best advice in the world, free of charge. That advice is appetite. All other advisers are imposers and frauds.

Don’t pay any attention to the food specialists, for they don’t know anything which your appetite hasn’t known for a million years — and while your appetite knows without any doubt, the food experts only think they know. If you have an abnormal appetite for chalk or slate pencils, or red pepper or whisky, or nails or opium or cocaine, you are ill and need a long fast or a course of treatment. But as long as your appetite is normal, follow it.

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Eat what you like if it agrees with you. If it doesn’t agree with you, eat it anyhow, if you can’t control yourself, and after it has made you good and sick, you will lose your relish for it. And don’t believe a word the “eminent physicians” with crank diet notions tell you. They really don’t know a thing about it. Not a living thing.

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