It is very easy to find the correct answer to the question, How much shall I eat? You are never to eat until you have an earned hunger, and you are to stop eating the instant you BEGIN to feel that your hunger is abating. Never gorge yourself; never eat to repletion. When you begin to feel that your hunger is satisfied, know that you have enough; for until you have enough, you will continue to feel the sensation of hunger. If you eat as directed in the last chapter, it is probable that you will begin to feel satisfied before you have taken half your usual amount; but stop there, all the same. No matter how delightfully attractive the dessert, or how tempting the pie or pudding, do not eat a mouthful of it if you find that your hunger has been in the least degree assuaged by the other foods you have taken.
Whatever you eat after your hunger begins to abate is taken to gratify taste and appetite, not hunger and is not called for by nature at all. It is therefore excess; mere debauchery, and it cannot fail to work mischief.
This is a point you will need to watch with nice discrimination, for the habit of eating purely for sensual gratification is very deeply rooted with most of us. The usual “dessert” of sweet and tempting foods is prepared solely with a view to inducing people to eat after hunger has been satisfied; and all the effects are evil. It is not that pie and cake are unwholesome foods; they are usually perfectly wholesome if eaten to satisfy hunger, and NOT to gratify appetite. If you want pie, cake, pastry or puddings, it is better to begin your meal with them, finishing with the plainer and less tasty foods. You will find, however, that if you eat as directed in the preceding chapters, the plainest food will soon come to taste like kingly fare to you; for your sense of taste, like all your other senses, will become so acute with the general improvement in your condition that you will find new delights in common things. No glutton ever enjoyed a meal like the man who eats for hunger only, who gets the most out of every mouthful, and who stops on the instant that he feels the edge taken from his hunger. The first intimation that hunger is abating is the signal from the sub-conscious mind that it is time to quit.
The average person who takes up this plan of living will be greatly surprised to learn how little food is really required to keep the body in perfect condition. The amount depends upon the work; upon how much muscular exercise is taken, and upon the extent to which the person is exposed to cold. The woodchopper who goes into the forest in the winter time and swings his axe all day can eat two full meals; but the brain worker who sits all day on a chair, in a warm room, does not need one third and often not one tenth as much. Most woodchoppers eat two or three times as much, and most brain workers from three to ten times as much as nature calls for; and the elimination of this vast amount of surplus rubbish from their systems is a tax on vital power which in time depletes their energy and leaves them an easy prey to so-called disease. Get all possible enjoyment out of the taste of your food, but never eat anything merely because it tastes good; and on the instant that you feel that your hunger is less keen, stop eating.
If you will consider for a moment, you will see that there is positively no other way for you to settle these various food questions than by adopting the plan here laid down for you. As to the proper time to eat, there is no other way to decide than to say that you should eat whenever you have an EARNED
HUNGER. It is a self-evident proposition that that is the right time to eat, and that any other is a wrong time to eat. As to what to eat, the Eternal Wisdom has decided that the masses of men shall eat the staple products of the zones in which they live. The staple foods of your particular zone are the right foods for you; and the Eternal Wisdom, working in and through the minds of the masses of men, has taught them how best to prepare these foods by cooking and otherwise. And as to how to eat, you know that you must chew your food; and if it must be chewed, then reason tells us that the more thorough and perfect the operation the better.
I repeat that success in anything is attained by making each separate act a success in itself. If you make each action, however small and unimportant, a thoroughly successful action, your day’s work as a whole cannot result in failure. If you make the actions of each day successful, the sum total of your life cannot be failure. A great success is the result of doing a large number of little things, and doing each one in a perfectly successful way. If every thought is a healthy thought, and if every action of your life is performed in a healthy way, you must soon attain to perfect health. It is impossible to devise a way in which you can perform the act of eating more successfully, and in a manner more in accord with the laws of life, than by chewing every mouthful to a liquid, enjoying the taste fully, and keeping a cheerful confidence the while. Nothing can be added to make the process more successful; while if anything be subtracted, the process will not be a completely healthy one.
In the matter of how much to eat, you will also see that there could be no other guide so natural, so safe, and so reliable as the one I have prescribed—to stop eating on the instant you feel that your hunger begins to abate. The sub-conscious mind may be trusted with implicit reliance to inform us when food is needed; and it may be trusted as implicitly to inform us when the need has been supplied. If ALL food is eaten for hunger, and NO food is taken merely to gratify taste, you will never eat too much; and if you eat whenever you have an EARNED hunger, you will always eat enough. By reading carefully the summing up in the following chapter, you will see that the requirements for eating in a perfectly healthy way are really very few and simple.
The matter of drinking in a natural way may be dismissed here with a very few words. If you wish to be exactly and rigidly scientific, drink nothing but water; drink only when you are thirsty; drink whenever you are thirsty, and stop as soon as you feel that your thirst begins to abate. But if you are living rightly in regard to eating, it will not be necessary to practice asceticism or great self-denial in the matter of drinking. You can take an occasional cup of weak coffee without harm; you can, to a reasonable extent, follow the customs of those around you. Do not get the soda fountain habit; do not drink merely to tickle your palate with sweet liquids; be sure that you take a drink of water whenever you feel thirst. Never be too lazy, too indifferent, or too busy to get a drink of water when you feel the least thirst; if you obey this rule, you will have little inclination to take strange and unnatural drinks. Drink only to satisfy thirst; drink whenever you feel thirst; and stop drinking as soon as you feel thirst abating. That is the perfectly healthy way to supply the body with the necessary fluid material for its internal processes.