Read CHAPTER VIII of The No Breakfast Plan and the Fasting-Cure , free online book, by Edward Hooker Dewey, on ReadCentral.com.

Having finally arrived at the conviction that from the first wink in the morning until the last at night strength departs, not in any way to be kept up by food, that from the last wink at night until the first in the morning strength returns, I became fully endowed to tell all the sick and afflicted in the most forceful way that with the strength of the brain recharged by sleep is all the labor of the day performed, and that no labor is so taxing upon human muscles that it cannot be performed longer without fatigue when the breakfast is omitted.

That this is possible came to me as a great surprise and in this way: a farmer with a large assortment of ailments came to me for relief through drugs. He was simply advised to take coffee mornings, rest mainly during forenoons, and when a normal appetite and power to digest would come he would be able to work after resuming his breakfasts. This man, who was more than fifty years old, was the first manual laborer to be advised to observe a morning fast.

Several months after, he came to me with news that his ailing had all departed, and that he had been able to do harder work on his coffee breakfasts than ever before with breakfasts of solids. And if he so worked with power during forenoons, why not others? Why not all?

This no-breakfast plan was so contagious that I was not long in finding that farmers in all directions were beginning to go to their labors with much less food in their stomachs than had been their wont, and in all cases with added power of muscle.

Only recently three farmers went into the field one hot morning to cradle oats, the most trying of all work on the farm; two of them had their stomachs well filled with hearty foods. With profuse sweating and water by the quart because of the chemical heat arising from both digestion and decomposition, these toiled through the long hours with much weariness. The third man had all his strength for the swinging of the cradle, the empty stomach not even calling for water; with the greatest ease he kept his laboring friends in close company and when the noon hour came he was not nearly so tired as they.

A man who had been a great sufferer from indigestion, a farmer, found such an increase of health and strength from omitting the morning meal that he became able to cradle rye, a much heavier grain than oats, during an entire forenoon “on an empty stomach.” Later he went from one December to the following April on one daily meal, and not only with ease, but with a gain in weight in addition. During these months this man did all the work usual in farm-houses, besides riding several hours over a milk route during the forenoons.

In this city resides a carpenter, formerly subject to frequent sicknesses, who for the past five years has walked nearly a mile to the shop where he is employed without even as much as a drink of water for breakfast; and this not only without any sicknesses, but with an increase in weight of fifteen pounds also.

More than a dozen years ago a farmer who was not diseased in any way, but who had been in the habit of eating three times a day at a well-spread table, and at mid-forenoon taking a small luncheon for hunger-faintness, omitted his breakfast and morning luncheon, and has been richly rewarded since then in escaping severe colds and other ailings. He conclusively felt that his forenoon was the better half of the day for clear-headedness and hard labor; he has added nearly a score of pounds to his weight, and his case has been a wonder to all his farmer friends, who see only starvation in cutting down brain and needless stomach taxing.

I must now ask the reader to bear with me while I apply the principles of this new hygiene with a good deal of reiteration, trying to vary them in utterance as far as possible. The need of daily food is primarily a matter of waste and supply, the waste always depending upon the amount of loss through the general activities, manual labor being the most destructive.

Across the street from where I live a new house is being built: for many days during the chilly, windy month of March several men have been engaged high in the air, handling green boards, studs, and joists for ten hours each day; and yet these men are not eating more food daily than hundreds of brain-workers who never have general exercise. The workmen across the street eat to satisfy hunger; the brain-workers, to satisfy the sense of relish; and the meals of the latter are habitually in excess of the real demands because of wasted bodies.

In spite of the apparent overeating of the brain-worker, I believe the farmer and the manual laborer break down at an earlier age, for the reason that they overwork and generally eat when too tired to digest fully: the farmer is rarely content to do one day’s work in one day when the crop season invites him to make the most of fair days.

With successes rapidly multiplying in all directions within my circuit, the desire became urgent for some way to make my new hygiene known to the public. My first thought was to get some eminent divine interested through a cure that would compel him to a continual talk as to how he became saved.

At a great denominational meeting in Chicago I chanced to hear a splendid address from a sallow-faced professor of a divinity school, the Rev. Dr. G. W. N.; and after a great deal of reflection I resolved, without consulting him, to write him a series of letters on health culture, hoping that he would become so immediately interested as to permit me a complete unfolding of my theory and practice.

I began the series, taking all the chances to be considered a crank; they were continued until the end without response, when later I received a brief note with sarcasm in every line. At least my letters had been read; for he informed me that he had no confidence in my theory, giving me a final summing up with his estimate that there were more “cranks” in the medical profession than in any other. I was not in the least cast down at this long-range estimate, since I had become quite used to close-at-hand ridicule.

There was before me the unknown time when a still more eminent D. D. would both accept and practise my theory, and also give the world his estimate in an elaborate preface to a book that in the fulness of time the ways opened to me to write and have published.

I was sent for by a man who had become a moral and physical wreck, his body being reduced to nearly a skeleton condition from consumption. As he was taking an average of two quarts of whiskey per week, I accepted the charge of his case with reluctance.

I was not able in any way to change his symptoms for the better; there had been no hint of hunger for many weeks, and the mere effort to swallow or even taste the most tempting dainties was painful to witness. He was taken with a severe pain in his side, which was fully relieved with the hypodermic needle, and there followed several hours of general comfort and no desire for the alcoholic. Seeing this I was strongly impressed that by continuing the dosings for a time the seared stomach might get into a better condition and the fast be followed by a natural hunger.

This is what actually followed: in about a week the dosings were reduced to mere hints, and without any desire for stimulants there came a desire for broiled steak and baked potatoes, which were taken with great relish. Thence on this was mainly the bill of fare, and the half-filled bottle remained on his table untouched, undesired; and in time there were added more than a score of pounds to his wasted body.

Now it chanced that this regenerative work was seen day after day by his friend, who was badly in need of an all-round treatment to meet the needs of his case; he was a man of keen intellect, of real ability of both mind and muscle. Becoming deeply interested in the theory behind the miracle he saw unfolding day after day, and all the more because of a total extinction of the drink-habit that was deep seated through long duration, he began to omit his morning meals.

He saw more than his own case. He had been a manager of book agencies, and when he found also his desire for the cigar undergoing a rapid decline, he became possessed with the idea that a book might be written on the subject. The time came when he could sit down in the office of the Henry Bill Publishing Company, Norwich, Conn., a picture of health, to interview Mr. Charles C. Haskell on the subject of publishing a book. Mr. Haskell had known him in less healthful years, and he marvelled at the change.

I had duly suggested, and with great emphasis, that no publisher would listen to him unless he were sick enough to be interested in the theory and would give a test by actual trial. He found Mr. Haskell in very low health. Experts had sent him on a tour through Europe in search of that health he failed to find; his body was starving on three meals a day that were not digested, and he began to arrange his affairs with reference to a near-at-hand breakdown.

To this man was made such an appeal as men are rarely able to make, because a regenerated life was also vocal in utterance. To him a miracle seemed to have been wrought, and he listened to each word as if to a reprieve from a death seemingly inevitable.

As there was no disease of the stomach, it required only a few days for Mr. Haskell to acquire so much of new life that he felt as one born again, and a week had not passed before I had his earnest request to put my hygiene into a book, he taking all chances of failure.

He began to advise all ailing friends to give up their breakfasts or to fast until natural hunger came, getting many marvellous results. One of his first thoughts was to have the forthcoming book introduced by some eminent divine who could write through the inspiration of experience.

In a visit to Norwich of that evangelist of world-wide eminence, George F. Pentecost, D. D., then of London, Eng., the opportunity came, and for a case of “special conversion” he was made the guest of Mr. Haskell. He was easily persuaded to the system, and his need is expressed in the following from the introduction of The True Science of Living, which was actually written without his having read a single line of the manuscript.

“Taking the theory upon which this system of living is based into account and even to my lay mind it seemed most reasonable and the testimony which I personally received from both men and women, delicate and biliously strong, workingmen, merchants, doctors, and preachers, delicate ladies for years invalided and in a state of collapse, and some who had never been ill, but were a hundred per cent. better for living without breakfast, I resolved to give up my breakfast. I pleaded at first that it might be my luncheon instead, for I have all my life enjoyed my breakfast more than any other meal. But no! it was the breakfast that must go. So on a certain fine Monday morning I bade farewell to the breakfast-room. For a day or two I suffered slight headaches from what seemed to me was the want of food; but I soon found that they were just the dying pains of a bad habit. After a week had passed I never thought of wanting breakfast; and though I was often present in the breakfast-rooms of friends whom I was visiting, and every tempting luxury of the breakfast was spread before me, I did not desire food at all, feeling no suggestion of hunger. Indeed now, after a few months, the thought of breakfast never occurs to me. I am ready for my luncheon (or breakfast if you please) at one o’clock, but am never hungry before that hour.

“As for the results of this method of living, I can only relate them as I have personally experienced them:

“1. I have not had the first suggestion of a sick headache since I gave up my breakfast. From my earliest boyhood I do not remember ever having gone a whole month without being down with one of these attacks, and for thirty years, during the most active part of my life, I have suffered with them oftentimes, more or less, every day for a month or six weeks at a time, and hardly ever a whole fortnight passed without an acute attack that has sent me to bed or at least left me to drag through the day with intense bodily suffering and mental discouragement.

“2. I have gradually lost a large portion of my surplus fat, my weight having gone down some twenty pounds, and my size being reduced by several inches at the point where corpulency was the most prominent; and I am still losing weight and decreasing in size.

“3. I find that my skin is improving in texture, becoming softer, finer, and more closely knit than heretofore. My complexion and eyes have cleared, and all fulness of the face and the tendency to flushness in the head have disappeared.

“4. I experience no fulness and unpleasantness after eating, as I so often did before. As a matter of fact, though I enjoy my meals (and I eat everything my appetite and taste call for) as never before, eating with zest, I do not think I eat as much as I used to do; but I am conscious of better digestion; my food does not lie so long in my stomach, and that useful organ seems to have gone out of the gas-producing business.

“5. I am conscious of a lighter step and a more elastic spring in all my limbs. Indeed, a brisk walk now is a pleasure which I seek to gratify, whereas before the prescribed walk for the sake of exercise was a horrible bore to me.

“6. I go to my study and to my pulpit on an empty stomach without any sense of loss of strength mentally or physically on the other hand, with freshness and vigor which is delightful. In this respect I am quite sure that I am in every way advantaged.”

Rev. George Sherman Richards, after more than fifteen years of frequent severe headaches that were supposed to be due to heredity, has had entire freedom during the five years of the No-breakfast Plan. He can hardly be surpassed as a picture of perfect health.

One of the first prominent converts who finally surrendered to Mr. Haskell, whose persistence was beyond fatigue, was the editor of the Norwich, Conn., Bulletin, a special friend. There was no want of conviction on his part, but the evil day to begin the morning fast was continually postponed. Finally, one morning when he was specially busy and charged with impatience, the beaming and hopeful face of Mr. Haskell appeared. Said the busy man, “Mr. Haskell, if you will walk right out of that door, I will promise you to begin tomorrow morning to do without breakfasts.” Mr. Haskell walked out the breakfasts were given up, and some years later I was personally informed that he believed that his life had been saved thereby.

One of the expedients was to send a circular about the book to every foreign missionary of every denomination, and as a result one of these fell into the hands of Rev. W. E. Rambo, in India. He had become a mere shadow of his former self from ulcerated bowels, the sequel of a badly treated case of typhoid fever. For seven months there had been daily movements tinged with blood; the appetite was ravenous, and large meals were taken without any complainings from the stomach. Before a well-spread table his desire to eat would become simply furious, and it was indulged regardless of quality and quantity. His brain system had become so exhausted that reason and judgment had no part in this hurricane of hunger.

There were seven successive physicians in this case, some of them with many titles. The first one he called on reaching New England cut his food down to six bland meals daily. All of them had tried to cure the offending ulcers by dosings. Think whether bleeding ulcers on the body would get well with their tender surfaces subjected to the same grinding, scratching process from bowel rubbish!

He was in condition on his arrival to lose six pounds during the first week of six “bland” daily meals. After reading the True Science of Living he discharged his physician and came under my personal care. These ulcers were treated with the idea of giving them the same rest as if each had been the end of a fractured bone. To relieve pain, to hold the bowel still, and to abolish the morbid hunger, a few doses with the hypodermic needle were a seeming necessity.

In less than two weeks this starving man of skin and bones was relieved of all symptoms of disease, and there seemed a moderate desire for food of the nourishing kind. Less than two weeks were required for all those ulcers to become covered with a new membrane: but for full three weeks only those liquid foods were given that had no rubbish in them to prove an irritant to the new, delicate membrane covering the ulcers. For a time after the third week there was only one light daily meal, with a second added when it seemed safe to take it.

In a little more than three months there was a gain of forty-two and a half pounds of flesh, as instinct with new, vigorous life as if freshly formed by the divine hand. My last word from this restored man was after he, his wife, and four children had been back in India for a year and a half, where they were all living on the two-meal plan without any sicknesses, and he had a class of one hundred and sixty native boys on the same plan.

Who can fail to see the science and the sense to relieve all diseases of the digestive tract? There are no cases of hemorrhoids not malignant in character, in which total relief will not be the result if fasts are long enough; no cases of anal fistula that will not finally close if they can have that rest from violence that is their only need; and equally all ulcers and fissures that make life a history of torture.

No case with structural disease of any part of the digestive tract not malignant has yet come under my care in which there has not been a cure, or in which there has not been a cure in sight. Through a fast we may let the diseased parts in the digestive tract rest as we would a broken bone or wound on the body.

Several missionaries have regained health on these new lines, who have returned to preach and practise a larger gospel than before. One returned from the Congo region of Africa with such wreckage of health as to make any active service impossible. Mr. Haskell met him in New York, and in time he returned with twenty-four missionaries, all as converts to the new gospel of health, and to have that sustained health only possible through a larger obedience to the laws of God “manifest in the flesh” obedience that takes into account the moral science, the physics and the chemistry of digestion.

These and those others who have had their lives redeemed from lingering death through the simple, easy ways of Nature never suffer their enthusiasm to wane. Not to volunteer aid when unintentional suicide is going on seems nothing less than criminal.

As a means to better health the utility of the morning fast is beyond estimate. In all other modes of health culture there is a great deal of time consumed in certain exercises that are certain to be given up in time. What the busy world requires is a mode to gain and maintain the health that requires neither time nor thought one that is really automatic.

We arise in the morning with our brain recharged by sleep, and we go at once about our business. If we take a walk or go to the gymnasium, we simply waste that much time, and we also lessen the stored-up energy by whatever of effort is called out. We can skip the dumb-bells and perform any other kind of exercise that is good for the health; and always with the certainty that we shall have more strength for the first half of the day if none is wasted in this way. As a matter of mere enjoyment, walks in fresh air are beneficial, but not as an enforced exercise for the reason of health.

For the highest possibilities for a day of human service there must be a night of sound sleep; and then one may work with muscle or with mind much longer without fatigue if no strength is wasted over untimely food in the stomach, no enforced means to develop health and strength. When one has worked long enough to become generally tired there should be a period of rest, in order to regain power to digest what shall be so eaten as to cause the brain the least waste of its powers through failure to masticate.

One need not always wait until noon to eat the first meal. Those in good health have found that they can easily go till noon before breaking the fast; but in proportion as one is weak or ailing the rule should be to stop all work as soon as fatigue becomes marked, and then rest until power to digest is restored. To eat when one is tired is to add a burden of labor to all the energies of life, and with the certainty that no wastes will be restored thereby.

For the highest efforts of genius, of art, of the simplest labors of the hands, the forenoon with empty stomach and larger measure of stored-up energy of the brain is by far the better half of the day; and, more than this, it is equally the better for the display of all the finer senses of the tastes, the finer emotions of soul life. In addition to these and what is vastly more important it is by far the better half of the day for the display of that energy whereby disease is cured. All this with no power lost in any special exercise for the health!

The time to stop the forenoon labor is when the need to rest has become clearly apparent; and there must be rest before eating, to restore the energy for digestion. This always determines Nature’s time when the first meal shall be taken, and not the hour of the day.

This is especially important to all who are constitutionally weak or have become disabled through ailings or disease. Disappointments have come to hundreds who have given up breakfasts, because of the mistaken idea that they must wait till noon before breaking the fast, and hence had become too tired to digest; and therefore experienced a loss rather than a gain from the untimely noon meals.

The desire for morning food is a matter of habit only. Morning hunger is a disease under culture, and they who feel the most need have the most reason to fast into higher health. They who claim that their breakfasts are their best meals; that they simply “cannot do one thing” until they have eaten, are practically in line with those who must have their alcoholics before the wheels can be started.

Now it has been found by the experience of thousands that by wholly giving up the morning meal all desire for it in time disappears, which could hardly be the case if the laws of life were thereby violated; and the habit once fully eradicated is rarely resumed.

To give up suddenly the use of alcoholics or of tobacco in any of its forms is to call out loudest protests from the morbid voices that have been kept silent by those soothing powers; and yet no one would accept those loud cries as indicating an actual physiological need. The difficulties arising from giving up the morning meals even as those from giving up the morning grog are an exact measure of the need that they shall be given up in order that health, and not disease, shall be under culture.

I once heard a Rev. Mrs. tell a large audience of ministers that for more than a week she spent most of her forenoons in bed to endure better the headaches and other angry, protesting voices that were averse to the no-breakfast plan. She won her case, and thence on a hint of headache or other morbid symptoms was a matter of humiliation and fasting, with prayer for forgiveness and for greater moral strength against the temptations of relish.

With many people the breaking of the breakfast habit costs only less of will-power than is called out by attempts to break the alcoholic or tobacco habit; but by persistence a complete victory is certain for all, and the forenoons become a luxury of power in reserve.

Now, I must warn all that very many persons who adopt the No-breakfast Plan are disappointed, because they have become chronic in the ways of unwitting sin: they are like thin-soiled farms long-cropped without soil culture. Harvests in either case can only come by the study and practice of the laws of nutrition.

The besetting sin against all such ailing mortals, the lines of whose lives are frequently of the hardest, is that the friends all oppose cutting down the daily food from the dreadfully mistaken impression that weakness and debility from disease are the measure of the need to eat, not the measure of the inability to digest.

Scores of times I have been written to by this class of patients as to their troubles from friends in this way. Scores of times I have been consulted as to the safety of this method in daily living for the old, as if it were a tax upon the constitutional powers to stop sinning against them! As well ask whether one may get too old as to make it dangerous to cut down daily whiskey or daily labor that is clearly beyond the reasonable use of the powers.

Those who are the victims of chronic diseases and have become greatly enfeebled by overwork of body, mind, or stomach, will have to work out their salvation with most discouragingly slow progress; but not to work, not to try, is to invite the processes of disease culture.

Now, as to the time when that first meal of the day shall be taken. Since the best meal of the day in all America with the great majority of the people is at noon, this time may well be selected as the most fitting. Since the man of muscle loses no time in taking his breakfast, he should be able with good sense to rest an hour before this noon meal.

Those whose general energies give out earlier in the morning and do not care to have general meals prepared in advance of the usual hour, can put in the time in the best possible way by resting into power of relish and digestion, the evil of eating when tired being that the exhausted feeling is only increased.

Now think what forenoons may be had with no time lost over breakfasts, none in thinking about the health or in doing anything for it, and not only to have the best and strongest use of the reason, judgment, and muscles, but also to have the best possible conditions for the cure of ailings! Think, too, what it would be to the mothers of the land not to have any need to go into their kitchens until the time to prepare the noon meal arrived!

Can children while growing rapidly do without breakfasts? They certainly can without a hint of discomfort, and be all the better for it in every way.

A few months ago I spent some hours in Illinois, where the no-breakfast plan had been practised for two years. When the plan was begun there was a pale, delicate mother of four children, who was enduring a life that had no cheer. During the first year the battle was a severe one, not a little aggravated by the assurance of all sympathetic friends that resulting evil was making its mark on all the lines of expression; but health with its life and color finally came to silence the uttered disapproval.

There was a boy in the home who was subject to the severest headaches every week, and who was much wasted in his body when he began: he had become robust and wholly relieved of all his ailings. There was a plump, rosy-cheeked girl of fourteen who for a year had taken only one daily meal, and yet a better nourished body I never saw.

Now in this family the only warm, general meal, and this a plain one, was at noon. The evening meal was entirely of bread and butter taken without even a sitting at the table. What happy, healthy children they were! And the mother was in a great deal better health to do all the work of the kitchen: work, she strongly asserted, which was not nearly half of what it formerly was. For her there was a cure, a great increase of strength, and a great reduction of the most taxing of all the duties of the home-life.

If there is such a thing as an attack of disease, it cannot occur in the forenoon when there is an empty stomach and all the powers are at their best for resisting disease; and where children are fed as these are, disease, acute or chronic, is only a remote possibility.

I belong to a family of seven; the oldest is beyond seventy, the youngest beyond fifty. This No-breakfast Plan has been very closely adhered to with all for not less than twelve years, and during this time not one of us has had any acute sickness; and I am not aware that any have diseases of the chronic kind.

The accompanying illustration is that of Mrs. E. A. Quiggle, sister of the Author, after twelve years’ trial of The No-breakfast Plan.