I have not prescribed salt or sugar. Why add these condiments, when all children would thrive much better without them? If a salt-and-sugar habit is not developed in childhood, fiends for these life and health abbreviators are not so liable to be evolved after childhood.
Salt and sugar cause thirst, and thirst causes excess weight in some children and grown people, and poverty of tissue in others. The foundation for lifelong ill-health is often laid in childhood, in which salt and sugar play a large part, and to which rapid eating--failing to chew properly--adds very largely.
Medical nomenclature has a whole list of diseases peculiar to children. This peculiarity is largely built by feeding them starch with protein.
Eating milk and starch--milk and cereal or bread--at the same meal is a dietetic error that builds intestinal putrescence.
Why do I insist on no starch and protein at the same meal? Because I would prevent the "contagious" diseases "peculiar to children." The eruptive diseases will be done away with forever when children are no longer fed starch and meat or milk in the same meal. Intestinal putrefaction is the so-called contagion that is supposed to be the cause of infectious diseases epidemics. This is more fully explained in another chapter.
If it were not for teaching children table manners by example, they should be fed at a side table, or in a separate room, to keep them from wanting food which they see older people eat, but which is unfit for them.
Beginning with the fourth year: For breakfast, toasted bread and butter, which must be eaten dry, then follow with fruit; or give fresh fruit and all the milk desired.
At noon, toasted bread, vegetable soup made without meat or milk, and combination vegetable salad; or fruit salad (apple, orange, grapes), or any combination desired; in winter, the Delicious apple.
At dinner in the evening, toasted whole-wheat bread, Shredded Wheat, corn bread, or baked potato, with a reasonable amount of unsalted butter; follow with vegetable puree, or vegetable or fruit salad. Prepare the puree as follows: Cook equal parts by weight of spinach, cabbage, carrot, potato, and celery; run through, or rub through, a sieve or fruit-strainer; no dressing is necessary. A puree can be made of any combination of vegetables. Evening meals may vary: corn bread, butter, and salad; baked potatoes, or any toasted or dry bread, and unsalted butter, combination salad, ground or not, no dressing, or a salad of fruit if desired. Vegetables should be cooked tender and made into a puree, or the child may eat the vegetables without making them into a puree.
Dry or toasted whole-wheat bread should be the regular bread for children. Change occasionally to Shredded Wheat or other dry breads.
Children must be taught to eat dry breads before eating other foods at a meal, and positively no drinking should be allowed while eating. Americans will become toothless unless they learn to masticate and insalivate the foods, and unless they learn to feed their children in such a manner as not to produce intestinal putrescence, which cultivates "diseases peculiar to children"; keeping in mind that putrescence is built by feeding starch and protein in the same meal. Putrescence is at the bottom of early breaking-down of the teeth.
If the child is of good weight, the above starchy dinners may be alternated with a meat meal. Well- cooked lamb-stew, eggs, chicken, or fish, being the lighter meats, are the best for children. The meat should be followed with a large combination salad, and perhaps one cooked vegetable. Use the meat meals for about four nights a week, and the starch dinners for about three nights, where the weight is good. If the child is thin and needs weight, the starch dinners more often would suit better.
It is generally understood that meat should not be fed to children. This is true when it is taken in the same meal with starch, but the combinations of meat or milk and bread, or cottage or cream cheese and any food made from grains are altogether to blame for any bad results.
The undernourished child is a bugbear of about all mothers and most doctors. This fear has no foundation in fact, except in famine-stricken countries. In this country, overfeeding and sickness are universal. The fact is that sickness is expected--indeed, looked for--by everybody, and a child that has no sick report up to five years of age is a rarity--a rara avis.
Parents should know what causes enervation in children and know that an enervated child cannot digest food--any kind of food--as well as when not enervated. A child, when very tired, should not be given hearty food. If possible, it should be sent to bed supperless, or given fruit juice only.
Children often play too hard, and become nervous, cross, and hysterical. When parents see their children becoming nervous, loud, and boisterous, they should stop their playing and have them lie down until rested.
All the so-called epidemic diseases of children affect only those with a cultivated gastro-intestinal irritability, with frequent flares of indigestion--"catarrhal fevers." At the risk of springing an Irish bull, I will say that a child who is well will not be sick. A well-cared-for child--one free from petty indigestions--is free from enlarged tonsils, adenoids, etc.
Children should be fed three times a day, but they should not be urged to eat. When fussy for food at off hours, if they cannot take a piece of dry bread and eat it with a relish, they have appetite, not hunger. Clamoring for food, with no desire for plain, wholesome foods, is an indication of a morbid state--food-drunkenness--and should be corrected by withholding all food until a relish for plain food returns. Unless such strenuous measures are adopted, with children or grown people, disease of a serious nature will develop.
Children returning from school clamoring for food may be given an apple or orange.
Rapid eating, with insufficient chewing, must lead to digestive derangements. This is one of our national bad habits.
As soon as teeth are developed, a child should be taught to masticate well.
Several years ago I went on record as opposing the eating of starch (bread and cereals) and fruit together, because I observed fermentation frequently following that combination. I have since learned that the fermentation was caused by the milk that is almost invariably fed with bread, and insufficient insalivation, and by fresh bread and milk in combinations.