DIET AND TEMPERANCE
WHILE connected with various lines of rescue work in Chicago, I have been very forcibly impressed with the important part the diet question plays in the conversion of these men. It is a common thing to hear one of the converts at the mission or the Workingmen's Home make this remark : ''When I live on this kind of diet, I don't want to get drunk like I used to," or, "I don't crave whisky half as much since I have been eating this kind of food." The vegetarian diet has been the means of helping many men who were considered hopeless cases to overcome their appetite for strong drink.
On the other hand, I have made a careful study of the causes which have led to the downfall of several men who did very well for a time; and have almost invariably found it to be some dietetic error. A man would make up his mind to go out and get a square meal, and then after eating beefsteak, pepper, and mustard, his appetite would be abnormally aroused, and the old craving for liquor would set up, with the result that he went and got drunk.
It has occurred to me that if conscientious attention to the diet question is essential to the poor drunkard who is trying to reform, it is equally essential to Christians who are battling with hereditary and cultivated weaknesses of another kind.
Anything which disturbs the digestion necessarily influences the mind, and, in fact, the entire nervous system. In view of this, and also of the great truth that God can influence man only through his nervous system, it certainly places upon every Christian the responsibility to give most careful attention to the question of diet, in order that he may be able to maintain the highest possible degree of physical health. The same material assistance which a hygienic dietary affords the struggling inebriate, is also offered in like proportion to every Christian who is struggling against the cravings of a perverted appetite.
We frequently hear the rescued men, in their testimonies, talk of being saved from "eating" as well as from "drinking," by which they mean that God has shown them light in regard to diet, and helped them to be careful of what they eat, besides enabling them to overcome the appetite for strong drink. Should not those who have had much light on this question be as eager for truth and as willing to practice what has been shown them as these poor, unfortunate men in Chicago?