Then the waiter brought me the few items of the menu that I could eat at once and without "reasoning why." I wish that providing necessaries and not "luxuries" was the ideal of 'board-ship caterers, as the effort to provide "luxuries" only produces a lot of highly sauced dishes one more uneatable and unwholesome than the other. There is yet another unpleasantness; on some steamers the stores of food are all kept on ice, and when they are removed from the ice, decomposition sets in very rapidly, the result being that the dining saloon, besides its normal, fragrant smells, has a peculiar, drain-like atmosphere. The Continental train services with restaurant cars have the same principles; they never have fresh food, even though they may be travelling through the richest countries in the world, and constantly stopping. No doubt the reason for this kind of food being supplied is, that there is a demand for it. The class that lives most artificially is the class that travels most, and therefore it becomes a matter of business necessity to supply the kind of food which is most constantly asked for. If we may be bold enough to give advice to other people who have the same diet as ourselves, it is that they should not travel at all, or that they should have a private yacht, or, if they have to travel in the ordinary way, that they should take a large supply of nourishing biscuits and a pouch like Jack the Giant-killer, into which they may slip everything, and thus keep up the appearance of having the eating capacity of the average traveller, and avoid the accusation made by hotel-keepers of undue economising.'
The following case has been written out for me by the patient - a young woman whom I have known for many years, and who has most bravely fought against long chronic bad health:
Five years ago, in the winter of 1897, I began a diet of cereals, milk, cheese, nuts, fruits and vegetables, to the total exclusion of flesh foods, eggs, pulses, tea, coffee and cocoa.I was at that time suffering from anaemia, indigestion, neuralgia, and general weakness.My work was sedentary, and lasted from 9 a.m. till 7p.m.For elevenmonthsI stuck to the diet, appetite gradually getting so bad that, for the last few months, I used to live on the less solid foods, as milk, savoury vegetables, and the more tempting kinds of fruit, with very little bread, cheese, or nuts.At the end of the time I was so much worse that I went to Dr. Haig.He looked at the diary I had kept of my food and shook his head.He then examined me generally, and said I was "starved."After a few questions about the food I liked, he said, "Go out and get a mutton chop and a glass of Burgundy.Then go into the country for a rest, be out of doors all you can, take this tonic, and eat as much fish and meat as you like.The first thing to do is to get a healthy appetite - then we will consider the diet.But eat anything rather than be underfed."I carried out these instructions and went back to him much improved a few weeks later. He then advised me to change very gradually, substituting cheese for meat at one meal only - and after keeping to that for some weeks, to change another meal, and so by degrees to get on to the diet.This I tried, but failed again, and then gave upaltogether for about a year. ThenIbeganagain, and fortwo yearshad a series of hopeful beginnings and dismal endings.My friends used to say, "But why change at all when the ordinary diet suits you ?' It certainly did seem to suit me for thefirstthree or four weeks when I went back to it froma non-meat diet, but I had always to be taking medicines, and sooner orlater came the dyspepsia, with the consequentexhaustionthatmade lifea burden. As I woke each morning I used to feel "Here's another day to drag myself through" - and as I lay down at night I used to be so dead beat that I felt it would be a relief to sleep for good. The change to Haig's diet always brought, at first, a delightful sense of lightness and well-being - a difference as between a well-oiled machine and one clogged with grit and dust - but after a few weeks I used to get too weak to go on with my work, and had to give it up. At last, after rather a bad collapse, the friend with whom I worked bound me over to a meat-fish-wine, &c, diet for twelve consecutive months. When they were over, I started once more very cautiously on the uric-acid-free diet, making a careful study, meanwhile, of food values, mixtures and quantities, and for six months I succeeded beyond my hopes. Everyone noticed how much better I was in every way, and I found for the first time since childhood, that I could dispense with all kinds of medicine. Suddenly I caught a bad chill after weeks of excessive overwork, which resulted in mucus colitis with total collapse, and for two months I was in bed in charge of a nurse. The treatment was injections of carbolic alternately with boracic acid, and this played such havoc with an already enfeebled digestion, that I could take no sort of invalid food, except minute quantities of dissolved Plasmon, without hours of distress. At the end of three months' most careful nursing, my strength had so far improved that I was able to go into the country with a nurse, but the colitis being none the better for the treatment I had undergone, and the doctor who had attended me telling me that it might go on for three years, as it was a most difficult thing to cure, there being no drug that would touch it, I wrote to Dr. Haig and asked him to prescribe. He instantly stopped all injections and put me on salicylate of soda, and in three days the mucus had diminished. At the end of ten days it had entirely ceased, and I then went to stay with a friend of his who asked him to come down from London to see me. This he most kindly did, and the result of the interview was that he stopped the salicylate, which had done its work, and for the dyspepsia, which was still very bad, he prescribed a perfectly dry diet, of bread, pounded almonds, fruit, vegetable and cheese, telling me to replace the two latter by more fruit (fresh and dried) and almonds, as I found I could take them. This answered so well that digestion rapidly improved and, with it, strength. At the end of a month I could walk up steep hills on hot days, with pleasure, a thing I had never, at my best, been able to do before. The almonds, even when ground in a nut-mill and pounded by a careful cook, were, I found, liable to aggravate the intestinal inflammation, and as I did not digest cheese well enough to nourish satisfactorily upon it, I experimented upon the almonds till I got a substance as smooth as Devonshire cream, and of this I could soon take 4 oz. a day with comfort. So many people find almonds a difficulty that it may be as well to say how this almond cream is prepared, for almonds are equal to their own weight of meat in nourishment, and for those who dislike cheese, they are far too valuable an item in the list of uric-acid-free foods to be cast aside.