Eating Advice from a Mother to a Daughter

(The Revolution – March 1868) – In trying to impress upon you the advantage of a sound body, I would speak of diet as being chief of all hygienic means. It is absurd to expect a healthful balance of mind and body, without good, farinaceous food, at regular hours. Cake and highly seasoned dishes render the stomach irritable and the whole system feverish. Children fed on dainties can never grow robust. A craving for stimulants is thus induced and that is not confined to boys. Girls manifest this depraved condition of the digestive apparatus in other ways than in a love of tippling, but with effects nearly as baleful. Condiments of every kind or highly concentrated food, as in cake and sweetmeats, tax every force of the system to digest, and draw the life-forces from the extremities, leaving them unduly sensitive. The outposts undefended, disease creeps in and attacks the citadel.

The life-forces need to be preserved in perfect equilibrium to keep you growing as beautifully as a plant grows. That takes into its thousand stomachs, or cells, only what it needs to nourish its own life.

Plain food builds up the system in just the same way. The wonderful work of growth goes on unconsciously, in sleep or awake; all we have to do is to supply the right nutriment and we build up, as the plant builds, cell by cell. Each tiny particle attracts its kindred particle, and is deposited wherever a useless atom has been removed.

In avoiding stimulating food, you avoid undue brain excitement and unhealthy imagination and give no room to brooding thoughts of an unreal life, from which come trains of evils that have ruined thousands of lovely girls. Late suppors and rich delicacies create a thirst for novel-reading to a great extent. Fiction has its use, but also its great abuse. Yellow-covered literature would be less eagerly sought if our tables were not loaded with nerve-exciting viands. Real life palls upon the taste, home becomes monotonous, and daily duties irksome, while the day-dreamer roams in enchanted lands.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Women’s Suffrage Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily (1849-1856), National Citizen and Ballot Box (1878-1881), The Revolution (1868-1872), The New Citizen (1909-1912), The Western Woman Voter (1911-1913), The Woman’s Tribune (1883-1909) and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).

Much of this rich food acts like poison upon the frame, and must be expelled as a rank intruder. This expulsion takes more strength than you can afford to part with, and you are consequently left nervous and wretched. Only because you do not feel the ill-result in the stomach, you do not connect the effect and cause.

The temptation to eat rich food at undue hours is a very strong one to the young. If you realize how greatly your habits influence your character, you will apply the whole force of your nature to regulating this very common excess. Good digestion is conducive to amiability. We know a gentleman who is sunny and brilliant after a plain, well-digested dinner, but even his dog skulks away from his frown when he overeats.

The use of stimulating food creates a thirst for stimulating liquids, and girls early contract a love for tea and coffee; drinks which should never be used save as medicines. You know what ridiculous scenes are described, of gossiping, tea-drinking old ladies. Many of them are too true. The loosened tongue discusses the narrow world in which women move, and magnifies, petty affairs that should never occupy a moment’s thought. True, it seems harmless compared with the smoking, tippling habits of young men, but that is no excuse for girls. Be what you should be, and raise if possible others to your standard. Never degrade your own. A noble race of women will find a noble race of men standing by its side.

It may seem that I lay too much stress upon bodily habits. What I have said may prove painful facts, when you find yourself, as too many do, a prey to a host of nervous diseases. What seems unimportant may be the “Little pitted speak in garnered fruit, That rotting inward slowly moulders all.”

How can anything great or good come from such a class of women? Can they inspire to noble deeds—much less be themselves workers in this great world where there is so much wrong to be redressed, as well as so much self-culture to be attained?

One of the evils of the day is in eating too much fine bread. Unbolted flour possesses the entire qualities of the wheat, such as the system absolutely needs. What is gained in color is lost in quality. Dark flour is far more palatable and sweet than the white.

Bathing should be a part of your daily life. Open pores, produced by brisk hand rubbing, will make your skin glow and shine like alabaster. You will find no cosmetic like frequent ablutions and plain food. Do you remember your young friend K—–? Her skin was rough and full of pimples when we first know her. To abate a disfiguring eruption, she abandoned the use of all greasy food. The result was wonderful. The texture of her skin became fine and firm, and had a healthy glow.

All the stuffs sold in shops under the name of Lily Bloom, Enamel, etc., to repair the ravages made by if habits, only deform nature. It is an artifice easily detected, as is anything plastered on the outside, whether in mind, morals or manners. Such a habit is incompatible with that high love for truth which should be the first instinct of the soul.

It is natural to wish to be pleasing, but it is a mistake to think it can be put on like a coat of whitewash. No, it is something that radiates from the immortal part within, shining through the material form like a light gleaming through alabaster. The pure, true, strong spirit alone can render the body attractive and survive years and change.

Source: The Revolution March 5, 1868

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

Related Posts


Stay Connected

Connect with Accessible Archives on Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin to stay up to date on news and blog posts or get our latest blog posts by email.

Positive SSL