April 30, 2016

"In our view, if nine-tenths of all the various culinary preparations and combinations, vegetables, pastry, soups, stews, sweets, baked dishes, salads, things fried in grease, and all the vast array of confections, creams, pies, jellies, &c...."

"... were utterly swept aside from the habitual eating of the people, and a simple meat diet substituted in their place... the result would be greatly, very greatly, in favor of that noble-bodied, pure-blooded, and superior race we have had a leaning toward.... The effect of nearly all of these highly artificial dishes is to stimulate and goad on the appetite, distend the stomach, thin the blood, and prepare the way for some form or other of disease. They do not harden a man in his fibre, nor make him any the better in wholesome flesh—as it is often to be noticed of such articles that the greatest eaters of them are by no means the fattest, but often lean and scraggly.... We have been flooded in America, during the last fifteen or twenty years, with vast numbers of doctors, books, theories, publications, &c., whose general drift, with respect to diet, had been to make people live altogether on dry bread, stewed apples, or similar interesting stuff....  [Especially in New England,] the people are prone to be too intellectual, and to be 'ashamed of the carnal body'—running very much to brains, at the expense of the brawn and muscle of their limbs... Let the main part of the diet be meat, to the exclusion of all else...  for all the northern and eastern states. We say less about hotter climates, because in those regions of perpetual fruits, there are other points to be considered. And it may be as well to add, that by meat diet, we do not mean the eating of meat cooked in grease and saturated therewith—or in any made dishes—but meat simply cooked, broiled, roasted, or the like. This is the natural eating of man and woman...."

Advice on what to eat, from the newly discovered writings of Walt Whitman, "Manly Health and Training, With Off-Hand Hints Toward Their Conditions" (1858).

21 comments:

Fernandinande said...

It was all vegetarian, the most delicious fresh things, from asparagus to peppers and peas, served with rice and salads. It was all arranged on one plate, just as it was served to him. There was no meat and I do not remember any fish. Of course I was afraid. If it had been poisoned I would not be here today. We were forced to eat it, we had no choice."

EDH said...

"Grandpa Titus, what's for supper?! "

"Hog!"

http://www.yourememberthat.com/media/15191/Hey_Grandpa-Whats_for_Supper/#.VyUOAsj3bv4

Laslo Spatula said...

Screw Whitman.

When I need advice I prefer to consult a package of Dr. Bronner's Magical Soap.

I am Laslo.

Paul said...

He's not wrong. Our bodies are designed to live on protein and saturated fat for the most part. The Paleo diet is a move towards the diet our ancestors ate and our bodies evolved with.

mockturtle said...

I agree with the Paleo. Carbs, especially refined sugars and starches, have done untold damage to our well being. Vegetables and fruits are good. Breads and cereals, not so much. One thing is for sure: We can't trust the dietary 'experts', who unveil and new pyramid every few years.

OldGrouchyCranky said...

Another aspect of improving our national diet, as such, would be to greatly lower the intake of commercially prepared breads, using the rapid yeast techniques so prevalent in those processes. Sourdough breads, techniques like the bread in five process and other such techniques for making bread stuffs at home, would help lower blood sugars and be much more healthy for us all.

campy said...

"One thing is for sure: We can't trust the dietary 'experts', who unveil and new pyramid every few years."

You must be one of those anti-science wackos.

/s

mockturtle said...

You must be one of those anti-science wackos.

Hardly.

The Godfather said...

Unlike most modern dietary "experts", Whitman is dead, so we don't have to worry that he'll reverse his recommendations in a few years.

As for the "paleo diet", I find the argument persuasive that we evolved to eat that kind of thing. On the other hand, most of our paleolithic ancestors were long dead before the age of 40, so perhaps if you expect to live to 80 or 90 YMMV.

Or, if you are a Biblical literalist, you will know that humans were forbidden to eat meat from the Garden until the Flood, and during that era enjoyed lifespans of several centuries. The vegans might have a point.

Charlie Currie said...

The Godfather said...

"As for the "paleo diet", I find the argument persuasive that we evolved to eat that kind of thing. On the other hand, most of our paleolithic ancestors were long dead before the age of 40, so perhaps if you expect to live to 80 or 90 YMMV."

Let's see...no vaccines...no antibiotics...no emergency rooms...no trauma centers...lots of wild and dangerous animals and insects...I don't think diet had much to do with a shorter life span.

Meade said...

@Birkel, I'm sorry I accidentally deleted your comment. Please try again.

William said...

It's heartening to note that Walt Whitman attracts more clicks than Kim Kardashian, but Kim probably knows more about fashion than Walt does about nutrition.......Perhaps there is such a thing as an optimum diet, but such a diet would probably be applicable to an individual and not to whole populations. There are no definite answers in theology and nutrition, but it's important to stake out a position and claim that you're on the higher moral ground.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

Can't believe that some of you are taking serious the dietary advice of a guy who, just the post before this one, declared that drinking water with your food is dangerous...

Birkel said...

Meade:

No worries. I was unaware you were so dead-set against alcohol as to delete a pro-alcohol, pro-evolution comment. Have the 18th and 21st Amendments taught you nothing? Are you anti-science?

/sarc

Seriously, an accident is no damned big deal and I remain unconcerned!

tim in vermont said...

Can't believe that some of you are taking serious the dietary advice of a guy who, just the post before this one, declared that drinking water with your food is dangerous...

So does the fact that Whitman, or as we now much refer to him, White Man, said it makes it wrong? He was, of course right, and "dietary science" (politics by another name) was wrong.

George McGovern headed the committee that came up with the "food pyramid," hailed from a wheat state, did he. Nothing to see there though, right? He killed orders of magnitudes more people with that venal little stint than he ever did Nazis as a bomber pilot.

tim in vermont said...

On the other hand, most of our paleolithic ancestors were long dead before the age of 40,

I think, like many wild animals, if you lived past childhood, your odds got much better than that.

D.D. Driver said...

"I think, like many wild animals, if you lived past childhood, your odds got much better than that."

Exactly. Infant/child mortality is biggest factor. I've seen estimates that, historically, half the children didn't live past a 10th birthday. So run the numbers, if there are 2 individuals with an average life expectancy of 40, then combined they live a total of 80 years. If one of them dies at the age of 10, the other lives to be 70.

It's the flaw of averages. Its like the amateur statistician that drowned crossing a river that was only 3 feet deep on average.

mikee said...

Eventually all this inspection of the newly discovered work by Whitman will focus on the not-so-subtle sexual content. What was the opinion of the literary and social milieu of Whitman's time about homosexuality, again?

Char Char Binks said...

A Walt Whitman body in just 7 days? I can make you a fine animal man in only 15 minutes a day!

Rick Monihan said...

I'm not opposed to any diet, paleo included. My feeling is whatever works for you, works.
I don't happen to believe the diet that worked for our paleolithic ancestors is exactly the same diet we should have today. As our food choices have increased and evolved, our bodies have also evolved, and so have our diets. There is no one 'right' diet.

I used to eat pure sugar by the spoonful as a child, and even today will occasionally lapse into this behavior, though I've largely cut it out of my diet. Yet I'm thin, healthy, intelligent, athletically inclined and all the fun things we like. YMMV, but what I've learned is that anything in moderation will work for you, and you just have to find out what works for you.

I can't stand vegetables, and I eat very few of them. I do love meats and I have a terrible weakness for ice cream and cookies, though I have replaced most sweets with light yogurt - on the advice of the so-called 'experts'. But every now and then, as I said, I will indulge. I don't feel bad about a milkshake after a 30 mile bike ride, or even after a day lounging in the sun. If it's what I want, and it's within my dietary range, I'll do it.

I do count calories and proteins. But not obsessively.

As for Whitman - too many of us today have an opinion about what others should be doing, eating, and spending their money on. I don't. If you complain that you're overweight, I won't tell you how to fix it. I will tell you what I did to lose weight (I did top out at 215 lbs as a 6 foot tall male, at the age of 49, but decided that wasn't a good place to be and got down to 185) and after that, it's up to you. But don't think my advice represents a fact which can be applied to everyone and work. It worked for me, but then again, I ate sugar raw as a kid and never gained weight. So maybe my metabolism is different.

Unknown said...

Of course Whitman was against drinking water: in his age, water was a highly contaminated substance! There was no uniform drinking water purification or decontamination by water treatment plants. Drinking water in an urban environment was taking your life into your hands.

Cholera, or any other number of water-borne diseases, anyone? Michael Fitzgerald? Buehler?