There are very few subjects talked more about, and about which there is less known, than feeding of children--malnourishment, loss of appetite, underweight, etc., etc.
Medical science generally is now guessing that vitamines have all to do with the nutrition of children. The vitamine insanity will follow the insanity on calories and ductless glands to death unwept and unsung. A few absolutely solid facts concerning the cause of disease in children will stop this everlasting search to find the cause of malnutrition.
It seems impossible for the medical mind to grasp one great, big, prominent fact about the disease of children, and that is that a child can eat too much, and that when it eats too much it loses its appetite. If the child were permitted to go without food until a demand was made by natural hunger, and if it were then fed plain, wholesome food, with very little of the palate-ticklers, it would not be long before full health would be established.
Someone was kind enough to send me a clipping entitled "Cause of Lost Appetite." The article starts out by saying: "Parents with offspring that have to be forced to eat will be glad to know that scientists are on the trail of the reasons back of lack of appetite." I do not care who the individual is who wrote that sentence; if he could possibly know the amount of stupidity that will give birth to such stuff, I do not believe he would have the nerve to undertake to teach the public health. In the first place, parents are fools, and made fools of by the average doctor, when they force children to eat. No one should be forced to eat. No good ever comes from it, and many children are made invalids by being importuned by mothers egged on by doctors.
The best possible remedy for lost appetite in a child is to keep food away from it until a real desire returns; then such a child will eat with a relish any of the staple foods. With the majority of people, when they undertake to coax a child to eat, the food offered is almost invariably unsuitable--in fact, the worst selection possible out of a dietary that has brought on the child's ill-health and loss of appetite, and of a character that is inclined to disturb the stomach and increase the child's ill-health, rather than to benefit it.
There is just one constant cause of lost appetite, and that is enervation, causing Toxemia. Overeating, imprudent eating, wrong food combinations, pushed to the point of satiety, are auxiliary causes. There is just one way to get away from this terrible affliction of lost appetite, and that is to go without food until the tongue is clean, the breath sweet, and the patient shows in every movement that health is restored. Many children are brought to me suffering with petit mal. What is the matter with them? Very few of them have a normal hunger. They all have appetite. They will eat something that is not fit for them to eat, and perhaps only nibble at that. Such cases I put to bed, and they are given no food until they have all the appearance of health. Then they are fed very little for perhaps a week, and the food is usually a little fruit, with raw-vegetable salads. As improvement takes place, hunger returns. A reasonable amount of whole-wheat bread is then added to the dietary, a few well-cooked vegetables, and later on milk; still later on, an egg or a very little meat once or twice a week. When I get through with these children, they will eat "out of your hand," and they will eat anything. It does not take an X-ray to find out whether they are sick; for health is pictured upon their countenances and upon the use they make of their bodies.