On Fanaticism and Extremes

Category: Best Ever Must Reads

You might already be aware of this fact, but everyone who follows a diet and/or a lifestyle that is not the “norm” will be called a fanatic or an extremist by someone at some time. This is, as they say, par-for-the-course.Perhaps it is just human nature, sometimes it is just ignorance, often it is nothing more than a means of suppressing conviction, but the fact remains that dietary reform almost always attracts the fanatic/extremist label from some quarter.

Do not become discouraged, therefore, when this label is hung on you and/or your loved ones – and, more importantly, always respond with a smile. Sometimes people react in this way only because they do not know what you know. When they do know what you know, they will probably do as you do.

Does this not mean that we are challenged to help our “accusers” to know what we know? As such, we should kindly, tactfully, patiently work at informing them, and soon they too will have taken a step for better health – and they will one day thank us for our patience and our gentle guidance.

As health reformers, our goal is not to see how different we can be, but to see how kind, accommodating, and how caring we can be – despite our differences. What we eat and what we do is our choice in life, helping others to feel comfortable with their choices, and with ours, is our privilege in life.

So always put on a healthy dose of patience and tolerance, and try and meet everyone where they are. Reform is always progressive and, as such, we must make allowance for others – just as we had to make allowance for ourselves in times past when our own convictions demanded changes that we were not quite ready to make.

More often than not, the very ones who call you a fanatic will be those who are literally eating themselves to death, or drugging themselves to death. At such times you will be sorely tempted to confront them impatiently with all the scientific facts. But, in truth, we need to feel very sorry for people who are intent on depriving themselves of the rewards of a healthful lifestyle and diet. By keeping this thought in mind, you can turn your feelings of impatience into feelings of deep sympathy and kindness and, with such feelings, you will be well equipped to help your “accusers.”

Try as you will, though, you will not be able to persuade some folk to turn from their wrong habits. This is especially the case with the older generation. Do not allow the situation to cause animosity, however. We must choose to enjoy the friendship and love of others – even if they choose to eat their way into the grave. Always remember that genuine kindness and genuine concern will often do in a moment what argument and scientific fact will fail to do in a lifetime.

We consider that the article following is a must-read for all who take to the path of healthful living and eating.

Avoiding Extremes

Not all who profess to believe in dietetic reform are really reformers. With many persons the reform consists merely in discarding certain unwholesome foods. They do not understand clearly the principles of health, and their tables, still loaded with harmful dainties, are far from being an example of temperance and moderation.

Another class, in their desire to set a right example, go to the opposite extreme. Some are unable to obtain the most desirable foods, and, instead of using such things as would best supply the lack, they adopt an impoverished diet. Their food does not supply the elements needed to make good blood. Their health suffers, their usefulness is impaired, and their example tells against, rather than in favor of, reform in diet.

Others think that since health requires a simple diet, there need be little care in the selection or the preparation of food. Some restrict themselves to a very meager diet, not having sufficient variety to supply the needs of the system, and they suffer in consequence.

Those who have but a partial understanding of the principles of reform are often the most rigid, not only in carrying out their views themselves, but in urging them on their families and their neighbors. The effect of their mistaken reforms, as seen in their own ill-health, and their efforts to force their views upon others, give many a false idea of dietetic reform, and lead them to reject it altogether.

Those who understand the laws of health and who are governed by principle, will shun the extremes, both of indulgence and of restriction. Their diet is chosen, not for the mere gratification of appetite, but for the upbuilding of the body. They seek to preserve every power in the best condition. The appetite is under the control of reason and conscience, and they are rewarded with health of body and mind. While they do not urge their views offensively upon others, their example is a testimony in favor of right principles. These persons have a wide influence for good.

There is real common sense in dietetic reform. The subject should be studied broadly and deeply, and no one should criticize others because their practice is not, in all things, in harmony with his own. It is impossible to make an unvarying rule to regulate everyone’s habits, and no one should think himself a criterion for all. Not all can eat the same things. Foods that are palatable and wholesome to one person may be distasteful, and even harmful, to another. Some cannot use milk, while others thrive on it. Some persons cannot digest peas and beans; others find them wholesome. For some the coarser grain preparations are good food, while others cannot use them.

Those who live in under-developed countries or in poverty-stricken districts, where fruits and nuts are scarce, should not be urged to exclude milk and eggs from their dietary. In the case of persons whose blood-making organs are feeble, – especially if other foods to supply the needed elements cannot be obtained, – milk and eggs should not be wholly discarded. Great care should be taken, however, to obtain milk from healthy cows, and eggs from healthy fowls, that are well fed and well cared for [free-range]; and the eggs should be so cooked as to be most easily digested [poached, hard-boiled or soft-boiled].

The diet reform should be progressive. As disease in animals increases, the use of flesh foods, milk and eggs will become more and more unsafe. An effort should be made to supply their place with other things that are healthful and inexpensive. In this light, people everywhere should be taught how to cook without flesh foods, milk and eggs, so far as possible, and yet have their food wholesome and palatable.

The practice of eating but two meals a day is generally found a benefit to health; yet under some circumstances persons may require a third meal. This should, however, if taken at all, be very light, and of food most easily digested. Wholewheat crackers – the English biscuit – or zwieback, and fruit, or cereal coffee, are the foods best suited for the evening meal.

Some are continually anxious lest their food, however simple and healthful, may hurt them. To these let me say, Do not think that your food will injure you; do not think about it at all. Eat according to your best judgment; and be at rest.

Because principle requires us to discard those things that irritate the stomach and impair health, we should remember that an impoverished diet produces poverty of the blood. Cases of disease most difficult to cure result from this cause. The system is not sufficiently nourished, and dyspepsia and general debility are the result. Those who use such a diet are not always compelled by poverty to do so, but they choose it through ignorance or negligence, or to carry out their erroneous ideas of reform.

To care for the body by providing for it food that is tasty and strengthening is one of the first duties of the householder. It is far better to have less expensive clothing and furniture than to stint the supply of food.

All should learn what to eat and how to cook it. Men, as well as women, need to understand the simple, healthful preparation of food. Their business often calls them where they cannot obtain wholesome food; then, if they have a knowledge of cookery, they can use it to good purpose.

Carefully consider your diet. Study from cause to effect. Cultivate self-control. Keep appetite under the control of reason. Never abuse the stomach by overeating, but do not deprive yourself of the wholesome, palatable food that health demands.

The narrow ideas of some would-be health reformers have been a great injury to the cause of health reform. Health reformers should remember that dietetic reform will be judged, to a great degree, by the provision they make for their tables; and instead of taking a course that will bring discredit upon it, they should so exemplify its principles as to commend them to candid minds.

There is a large class who will oppose any reform movement, however reasonable, if it places a restriction on the appetite. They consult taste instead of reason and/or the laws of health. By this class, all who leave the beaten track of custom and advocate reform will be accounted radical, no matter how consistent their course. That these persons may have no ground for criticism, health reformers should not try to see how different they can be from others, but should come as near to them as possible without the sacrifice of principle.

When those who advocate hygienic reform go to extremes, it is no wonder that many who regard these persons as representing health principles reject the reform altogether. These extremists frequently do more harm in a short time than could be undone by a lifetime of consistent living.

Health reform is based upon principles that are broad and far-reaching, and we should not belittle it by narrow views and practices. But no one should permit opposition or ridicule, or a desire to please or influence others, to turn him from true principles, or cause him lightly to regard them. Those who are governed by principle will be firm and decided in standing for the right; yet in all their associations they will manifest a generous spirit and true moderation.

Adapted from an original article by Ellen Gould White

Leave a Comment