Tag Archives: John A. Widtsoe

“How To Be Well”

14 Aug

I’ve been reading an old nutritional cookbook published back in 1943 entitled “How to be Well” it was written by Leah D. Widtsoe who was married to the better known John A. Widtsoe who has a building named after him and everything.
In the forward John simply sings his wife’s praises in her pursuit to help people eat healthily. I thought many of his comments could be applied to the world today.
“The physical well-being of mankind is in the hands of the woman (man) who prepares the world’s food. … for man’s food determine’s the quality of the blood which carries nourishment to every part, organ, and cell of the body. … Thus it comes about that the woman (man) who prepares the food of the family rises to a place of first social importance. If she ( he) does not comply with modern knowledge of nutrition, she (he) becomes an incipient menace to humanity. If, on the other hand, she (he) strives to use all available food knowledge, she (he) becomes a producer of health and strength among her (his) family.”
I know I added the “he” just because it’s 2013. I think those wise words are just as true today.
If more people would sing praises to those who devote their time to family nutritional planning and cooking we would not only have someone rearing and caring for the next generation, but we could also see a decrease in so many of the nutritional related diseases which have run rampant.
There are many interesting recipes in this book one which involves a beef broth custard, which then utilizes cookie cutters to create shapes for a filler in soups.
It discourages adding sugars to cooked cereals and other foods since, “All starches in digestion become a simple sugar before they can be utilized, and when sugar is added, it is the same as eating sugar with sugar. The use of sugar is an acquired taste and should not be encouraged.” She encourages adding dried or cut up fruit instead.
The use of foods which have not been overly cooked or processed are encouraged as they posses the highest number of nutrients. There are many recipes for wheat cereal, breads, molasses muffins, soy bean muffins, corn pone.
She says pancakes are not recommended but if made should be created with whole wheat flour and served with minimal fruit sauce.
I think I may have to test some of these recipes out and report later. An overall interesting read. I can almost imagine what she might have to say about GMOs and aspartame. I wonder what she would think about monk fruit and Srevia if she had it?
A central reoccurring subject in her book is the connection of diet and mental health.
“Feeble-mindedness is greatly on the increase. The number of people suffering from some form or other of mental or nervous breakdown is another alarming symptom of improper food before and during infancy as well as later in life. … If the blood lacks nerve and brain food, naturally they cannot be nourished, and in time some abnormality is sure to develop.” Leah Widtsoe, pg. 35.
She also links improper diet to creating addictive personalities. Poor nutrition leaving a desire for something a craving which people may continue to fill with sugar and unhealthy foods or alcohol and tobacco, non of which genuinely fill the nutritional lacking and thereby create an addictive cycle.
“…let it be emphasized that if the body is well nourished, there are no unsatisfied cravings for anything except for good food. … On the other hand, if the body is poorly or imperfectly nourished, then the nerves cry out for something, anything to ease the craving,” How to be Well, pg. 33.
If I were to apply her philosophies in today’s society I would solve much of the world’s violence and homeless issues by planting a garden in the backyard of those in low-income housing and provide them with classes in gardening and nutrition. I’m certain that all of those things could only help. I find it fascinating that we are still dealing all the issues they faced in her time plus perhaps a few more. Maybe that us because people didn’t read her book and teach their children how to be well? Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat their mistakes I guess.
Over the past few days I have tried out a few of her natural living precepts: eliminated my fat free cool whip, diet sodas, fat free and sugar free jello etc. I have noticed a difference for sure I have been eating mostly veggies some organic and lean proteins with limited amounts of meat and a little fruit. I have allowed myself Stevia to sweeten my herbal tea and my plain fat free yogurt along with cinnamon and nutmeg. I also have been eating oat bran in things since it is minimally processed. I have been exercising like I normally do but in three days I’ve lost four pounds, I guess she knows what she is talking about. I have noticed a reduction in cravings for sure which is something I have always struggled with. Will it make me smarter and less crazy? I will have to wait and see.
Surprisingly enough this book is still in print, I found copies available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1162733519

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