This section is from the book "Fletcherism. What It Is, Or How I Became Young At Sixty", by Horace Fletcher. Also available from Amazon: Fletcherism, What It Is, Or How I Became Young At Sixty.
Never Eat until Hungry - Mouth-Treatment of Solid and Liquid Food - When to Stop Eating - Instructions to the Medical Department of the U. S. Army
To make my ideas a little clearer, I will elaborate them a little more. Remember that the rules are exceedingly simple. That, to my mind, is the worst obstruction to the general adoption of my system: it is so simple that many find it difficult to comprehend. But take these rules and you have the idea.
Don't take any food until you are "good and hungry."
Some people will reply: "I am always hungry." Others will aver that they "never know what it is to be hungry." We may assume that both replies are incorrect, because hunger must be intermittent, and must sometimes be present, or life would be intolerable through lack of satisfaction and something to satisfy.
The question, "What is hunger?" is a natural and legitimate one, for the reason that there are true appetites and false cravings. True hunger for food is indicated by "watering of the mouth"
- not that watering of the mouth, or profuse flow of saliva, through artificial excitement by some pungent stimulant, such as sweets, or acids or spiced things; but that which is excited on thought of some of the simplest of foods, such as bread and butter, or dry bread alone.
"All-goneness"in the region of the stomach, "faintness," or any of the discomforts that are felt below the guillotine line, are not signs of true hunger, but symptoms of indigestion, or some other form of disease. True hunger is never a discomfort unless a growing desire may be classed as a discomfort. Accumulating appetite (true hunger) is like the multiplication of uncut and uncashed coupons on a railway bond or on a Government bond. The feeling of possession is a joy of itself; and the ability to collect the proceeds when needed and at leisure is comfortable rather than uncomfortable. Under circumstances of intelligent nutrition, if we pass one mealtime we wait patiently for the next, with the knowledge that we are accumulating appetite coupons.
Have you yet learned what true hunger is?
Don't go on unless you have done so. Take a little more time; skip a meal or two, and give Nature a chance to show you what real appetite (true watering of the mouth) is. Having learned to recognise healthy hunger and appetite, and to know what it is to have both of them begging you for satisfaction, proceed with the second rule.
From the food available at the time take that first which appeals most strongly to the appetite. It may be a sip of soup, or a bite of bread and butter, or a nibble of cheese, or, perhaps a lump of sugar. It may be a piece of meat, though I doubt that a true appetite will call for such at the beginning of a meal. Never mind what it may be, give it a trial. If it be something that should be masticated in order to give the saliva a chance to mix with it and chemically transform it, chew it "for all that it is worth."
"For all that it is worth" means for the extraction and enjoyment of all the good taste there is in it.
If the food selected by the appetite happens to be soup, or milk, or some mushy substance, get all the good taste out of it, doing all you can to accomplish this; for to get the taste out of food is an assurance of digesting it, and the pleasure it gives in the process of Nature's way of getting you to do the right thing in helping her to nourish yourself properly. Sip, taste, bite, press with the tongue against the roof of the mouth, the food in the mouth, not because of any suggestion of mine, but in response to the natural instinct to move it about and get out of it all the taste there is in it.
The moment appetite begins to slack up a bit, the moment saliva does not flow so freely as at first, the moment there is any degree of satisfaction of the appetite, stop eating!
You will have a return of appetite; you will have another chance to eat; appetite is beginning to have "that tired feeling" herself; be kind to her as she has been kind to you. Give her a rest! Give her a rest! Give yourself a rest! Rest is the antidote of "that tired feeling"! Therefore rest the appetite before it gets tired. Stop eating before you are overloaded.
Now, having learned how to do the right thing in eating so as never more to have "that tired feeling," don't begin to overdo. Don't bend backward too far. Don't ever overdo a good thing.
Be temperate; be deliberate. Be thoughtful; be forethoughtful; be forethoughtful without being fearthought-ful. Don't overdo chewing, for then you take away much of the pleasure; smother the psychic enjoyment of eating, and raise the very mischief again.
Just be natural, and know that being natural is being deliberate in enjoying the thing you are doing, for that is Nature's way.
To the above simple rules I will append a few recommendations which occurred to me and which I wrote while in a respiration calorimeter, an experience which I will relate in a subsequent chapter. This list of recommendations has since been included in the Instructions to the Medical Department of the United States Army, under the heading:
Method of attaining Economic Assimilation of Nutriment and Immunity from Disease, Muscular Soreness and Fatigue.
(1) Feed only when a distinct appetite has been earned.
(2) Masticate all solid food until it is completely liquefied and excites in an irresistible manner the swallowing reflex or swallowing impulse.
(3) Attention to the act and appreciation of the taste are necessary, meantime, to excite the flow of gastric juice into the stomach to meet the food - as demonstrated by Pawlow.
(4) Strict attention to these two particulars will fulfil the requirements of Nature relative to the preparation of the food for digestion and assimilation; and this being faithfully done, the automatic processes of digestion and assimilation will proceed most profitably, and will result in discarding very little digestion-ash (faeces) to encumber the intestines, or to compel excessive draft upon the body energy for excretion.
(5) The assurance of healthy economy is observed in the small amount of excreta and its peculiar inoffensive character, showing escape from putrid bacterial decomposition such as brings indol and skatol offensively into evidence.
(6) When digestion and assimilation has been normally economic, the digestion-ash (faeces) may be formed into little balls ranging in size from a pea to a so-called Queen Olive, according to the food taken, and should be quite dry, having only the odour of moist clay or of a hot biscuit. This inoffensive character remains indefinitely until the ash completely dries, or disintegrates like rotten stone or wood.
(7) The weight of the digestive-ash may range (moist) from 10 grams to not more than 40-50 grams a day, according to the food; the latter estimate being based on a vegetarian diet, and may not call for excretion for several days; smallness indicating best condition. Foods differ so materially that the amount and character of the excreta cannot be accurately specified. Some foods and conditions demand two evacuations daily. Thorough and faithful Fletcherizing settles the question satisfactorily.
(8) Fruits may hasten peristalsis*; but not if they are treated in the mouth as sapid liquids rather than as solids, and are insalivated, sipped, tasted, into absorption in the same way wine-tasters test and take wine, and tea-tasters test tea. The latter spit out the tea after tasting, as, otherwise, it vitiates their taste, and ruins them for their discriminating profession.
* Forwarding muscular movement which advances food along the whole extent of the alimentary canal.
(9) Milk, soups, wines, beer, and all sapid liquids or semi-solids should be treated in this manner for the best assimilation and digestion as well as for the best gustatory results.
(10) This would seem to entail a great deal of care and bother, and lead to a waste of time.
(11) Such, however, is not the case. To give attention in the beginning does require strict attention and persistent care to overcome life-long habits of nervous haste; but if the attack is earnest, habits of careful mouth treatment and appetite discrimination soon become fixed, and cause deliberation in taking food unconsciously to the feeder.
(12) Food of a proteid value of 5-7 grams of nitrogen and 1,500-2,500 calories of fuel value,* paying strict attention to the appetite for selection and carefully treated in the mouth, has been found to be the quantity best suited to economy and efficiency of both mind and body in sedentary pursuits and ordinary business activity; and, also, such habit of economy has given practical immunity from the common diseases for a period extending over more than fifteen years, whereas the same subject was formerly subject to periodical illness. Similar economy and immunity have shown themselves consistently in the cases of many test subjects covering periods of ten years, and applies equally to both sexes, all ages, and other idiosyncratic conditions.
* The organic materials of human diet are usually classified into three divisions:
(1) The Proteids, or Albuminates - the characterising element occurring being nitrogen. The nitrogenous foods are: flesh (without the fat), eggs, milk, cheese, legumes (peas, beans, lentils, etc.).
(2) The Fats, or Hydro-carbons. All animal and vegetable fats and oil. Emulsions of mineral oils have been shown to pass through the system unchanged, and therefore cannot be regarded as food.
(3) The Carbo-hydrates (sugars and starches): bread, potatoes, and grain generally.
Protein is the tissue builder; heat and energy are derived largely from the non-nitrogenous foods.
A Calorie (large) is the unit of heat required to raise one kilogram of water to 1° C. The full value of a food is ascertained by means of the calorimeter, or apparatus used to determine the specific heat of substances, or the amounts of heat evolved or absorbed in various physical and chemical changes. Calorimeters take very diverse forms, varying from quite simple vessels to highly complex apparatus, according to the particular kind of determination to be carried out in them.
(13) The time necessary for satisfying complete body needs and appetite daily, when the habit of attention, appreciation and deliberation have been installed, is less than half an hour, no matter how divided as to number of rations. This necessitates industry of mastication, to be sure, and will not admit of waste of much time between mouthfuls.
(14) Ten or fifteen minutes will completely satisfy a ravenous appetite if all conditions of ingestion and preparation are favourable.
(15) Both quantitive and qualitive supply of saliva are important factors; but attention to these fundamental requirements of right eating soon regulates the supply of all of the digestive juices, and in connection with the care recommended above, ensures economy of nutrition and, probably, immunity from disease.