Hundred-Year-Old Advice About When to Eat

woman eating
Source: Household Arts for Home and School, Vol. 2 (Anna M. Cooley & Wilhelmina H. Spohr, 1920)

Here’s what a hundred-year-old magazine said about when to eat:

When to Eat

Do not eat between meals. East regularly, but when not hungry, eat sparingly.

Do not eat after violent exercise.

Do not eat when excited or fatigued.

East sparingly on hot days.

Do not eat within three hours of retiring.

Do not exercise violently, or sleep after a meal.

Eat regularly at specified times. This accustoms the stomach to receive food at these times, and encourages proper digestion.

Do not overeat; rather undereat, and leave the table unsatisfied than risk the danger that attends overeating.

Animals seldom eat when ill. Instinct is a good judge.

A normal, healthy person should be hungry at meal times. But if not hungry eat only a piece of fruit to retain the normal rhythm. A day fast often gives the digestive system a much needed rest. A short walk, before breakfast, helps digestion, and aids bowel movement.

American Cookery (August – September, 1922)

30 thoughts on “Hundred-Year-Old Advice About When to Eat

  1. “Violent exercise” made me laugh. That said, it’s all commonsense advice, and pretty much what I grew up being taught. Now, if only I could cut out the between-meal snacking!

    1. Most of the time words were used similarly a hundred years ago to how they are used now, but there definitely are exceptions. 🙂

  2. Sage advice and interesting that it hasn’t changed much, except, as noted by others, the “violent” exercise, which is humorous to us these days. Fun post, Sheryl, thank you.

    1. I think it had just the opposite effect on me. I made me think that I should try harder not to eat between meals or when I’m not really hungry.

  3. After reading all the remarks on violent exercise, I concluded several of us were fascinated by the use of the term a hundred years ago. I did a search, and the first item on the results was a 1971 article from PubMed about an experiment where tests were conducted for the impact of violent exercise on a cognitive task. There were no decrements (had to look that one up–means a reduction without saying something simple like reduction or decrease) and also mild hypoxia (decrease in available oxygen to the brain) had no impact. It was not related to when to eat, but I was still surprised the first item on the list was an academic research experiment. Just think of all the cognitive activity you are encouraging in us, Cheryl!

    1. Fascinating – I never would have guessed that there was an academic article on this topic, let alone there was one that was popular enough to rise to the top of a web search. Thank goodness violent exercise doesn’t negatively affect our ability to do cognitive tasks, though it sounds a bit worrisome that I could get mild hypoxia from violdent exercise (not that I do violent exercise). Until right now, I’d never even considered whether exercise could affect my cognitive ability..

      1. I guess it was thought to be stealing all our oxygen levels necessary for cognition…but the good news is you can apparently still think after exercising. 🙂

  4. What strikes me as I read that is how it fits with my upbringing. There was no such thing as snacks, just regular meals. I wonder how the culture changed so dramatically since.

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