Chapter Five

A snack may be defined as a small amount of food eaten between 
meals. Is there such a thing as a "healthful snack"? In the truest sense—no, there is no "healthful snack." What would be a health-promoting, nutritious small meal at mealtime does not constitute a healthy snack between meals because of the unhealthy timing. Of course some foods are less healthful than others—no matter when eaten. However, eating healthful food between meals does not make a "healthful snack"!

 

What is the Problem?

 

In order to understand the magnitude of the trouble that eating between meals creates, we must look a little closer at the process of normal digestion and the components needed for it. As we have mentioned, digestion is done in a "batch mode" fashion. This means, you may remember, that digestion starts in the mouth with chewing the food. In fact, even before a bite gets into your mouth, the eyes and nose have anticipated what’s coming and have sent signals to the body’s control centers with a message to prepare the body for food.

 

Documenting Digestion Time

 

It takes the body about 5 hours, on the average, to digest and absorb a meal. This is the reason that at least five hours should be allowed between meals. What happens if food is eaten between meals? This has been studied with X-rays. A small amount of barium was given to test subjects along with a hearty breakfast. The barium "meal" is not absorbed, but travels through the intestines so it can be observed by 
X-ray as it makes its way down the intestines until it is eliminated. One group of people ate nothing for five hours and another group snacked a couple of hours after breakfast. An X-ray was taken at noon to see where the barium was in the body. It was discovered that the group that ate nothing since the 7 a.m. breakfast, had the barium in the intestines with none of it left in the stomach; however, the group that snacked at 9 a.m., two hours after breakfast, still had all of the barium in the stomach. Then both groups ate lunch at noon and the snacker group had another snack at 3 p.m. Another X-ray was taken at 5 p.m. The barium in the non-snackers was further down the intestines and the barium in the snackers was still in their stomachs! And, as an added problem, bacteria in the stomachs of some of those who ate several meals had started fermenting sugars and producing some gas causing them to experience indigestion.

 

Tums for the Tummy!

 

Let’s say that the person took an "antacid" at this point to help with the indigestion symptoms. This would tend to make the matter worse, because the acid in the stomach helps to keep the food sterile. An antacid would interfere with keeping the stomach contents sterile and would interfere with the stomach enzymes that need an acid environment in which to work. If the person had a stomach ulcer and his digestive juices were eating the stomach lining, the antacid may take some of the pain away; however, the only way to correct the indigestion problem at its source or cause would be to discontinue eating between meals.

 

Recycle!

 

Let’s examine the parts that water and blood play in the process of digestion and see how efficiently the body runs.

The blood and water supplies of the body operate on a recycling program. Our bodies are 60% water by weight and the daily recycled amount equates to about 3 – 4 hundred glasses a day. In other words, if we had to supply the body with its daily water needs we would have to drink 19 – 25 gallons of water each day. As it stands, a loving Creator implemented the recycling program. All water is recycled except about 6 – 8 glasses, which we need to drink daily.

The blood volume of an average individual is about 5 liters or 1.25 gallons. It is 90% water, and weighs a little over ten pounds. It’s not much, is it? In order for us to survive with this small amount of blood, it makes a complete cycle and is reused once every minute. It is easy to see how this body weight is used so efficiently, being recycled every minute of our lives.

What does this have to do with digestion? The digestive enzymes all work in a water-soluble context and the storage facilities for these enzymes is very limited. This means that most of the digestive enzymes must be made "on the fly" in order to assist digestion. This requires blood flow and using the fluid in the body to produce these enzymes and the juices in which they flow. An average meal requires about 1.5 liters (about 3 pints) of digestive juices which contain the digestive enzymes. As we stated earlier, the total blood volume of an average person is only 5 liters or about 1.25 gallons. This means that the body does not have enough blood to do more than one major blood-requiring job at a time.

 

Time-share of Resources

 

Digestion is a major blood-requiring job. Thinking hard is another One of the secrets of happiness is to learn from others’ mistakes major blood-requiring job. Running would also be an illustration of a major blood-requiring job. This means that if you start eating and then start to run, while you are running, digestion will be slowed down, or even put on hold, until you stop running. If you start thinking very intensely, digestion will slow down, or get put on hold, until you relax. These blood and fluid flow requirements are part of the necessity for being relaxed and taking time to eat for best digestion. It is obvious that if the body is digesting food all day, the digestive process would be interrupted depending upon the activities required during the day. Thus, it is energy demanding and inefficient to keep interrupting the digestive process.

 

Snacking, Disease and the Digestion Connection

 

Are there any other problems with snacking? There is a whole collection of diseases that have come to be known as "Western diseases" because they are found mostly in the "developed nations." These diseases have one thing in common. The body is getting more calories than it can handle. Some bodies have little trouble with the extra calories, they simply store them and the body gets fatter and fatter without any other symptoms for a long time. Other bodies may not get fat but they still develop arthritis, diverticulitis, cholecystitis, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. All of these ills could largely be prevented by three simple strategies:

 

a) No snacking.

b) Moderate daily exercise.

c) Eating unrefined plant foods.

 

 

 

In third world nations where people eat simple plant foods, get plenty of exercise, and generally do not snack, we do not find the diseases that characterize the Western world. There are many scientific studies that have documented these facts. The evidence is clear and compelling. Then why don’t we get rid of so much cause of sickness and suffering and the high cost of medical care?

 

 

Consider Your Reason for Snacking

Ö People snack for solace. Snacking is poor soul solace. Snacking is a poor comforter, especially when, after years of comforting, it bites you with diabetes or some other Western disease.

 

Ö People snack to reward themselves. A snack should not be used to reward good behavior, when it is itself bad behavior from the physiological standpoint.

 

Ö Some say, "It is our culture to eat many times a day." Snacking is a preventable habit and one that can be changed. Frequent eating without frequent exercise fosters disease and premature death.

 

Ö "Everybody does it!" Yes, it is true that snacking is common. So are obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and the rest of the Western diseases that we find in industrialized countries. We have a choice to make. We can live fashionably, get fashionable diseases and die fashionably, or we can live differently and avoid common diseases, disabilities, premature senility, and death!

 

So What Should I Do?

 

For some people all that needs to be known is that snacking is a habit that paves the way for the Western degenerative diseases. They will "choose" the good and avoid the harmful. Others have to learn the "hard way." When they are in the end-stages of one of the Western diseases and they realize that in spite of their expensive medication, the disease is only getting worse, they sometimes become open to changing their habits. Some are willing to make the effort and persevere in changing their life-styles. Some would rather die than change long-established habits. Which type of person are you? You do not need to stay what you now are! Fate has not woven its web about any person so firmly that there is no possibility of change. For all of us, there is hope! With God "all things are possible," and He will help you as you seek to cooperate with Him.

 

How to Change

 

One of the secrets of happiness is to learn from others’ mistakes and avoid them. Review the four steps presented in the "Law of Change" in Chapter 1. One of the little-considered facts of life is stated in these words:

 

"While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18) 

The disease and disabilities we may face are temporal. That means that in the light of eternity, they are not going to last forever. "This too shall pass" is a sign that could be on everybody’s desk. The greatest things in life such as honesty, integrity, love, loyalty, and truth continue forever. Life is not an "even playing field." Unseen factors are involved in the decisions that we face. This is well expressed in this explanation:

"Decisions are like an election. God votes for you. The Devil votes against you. Your vote is the deciding ballot!"

This thought is expressed in these words:

 

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Ephesians 6:12)

The advice given in view of these facts is:

 

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil... Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Ephesians 6:10,11,13)

 

 

Call on God!

God has given a "walkie-talkie" to everyone. This hand-held, two-way radio is called prayer.

 

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)

On our own, in ourselves, the "playing field" is not level. We cannot usually change our ways by our own efforts. Benjamin Franklin is reported to have said: "God helps those who help themselves". Because of God’s respect of our freedom of choice, the truth is, that God helps only those who help themselves! One of the greatest ways we can help ourselves to change a life-destructive habit is to pray: "Lord, help me!" And God will help those who humble themselves, and pray, and seek His face, and turn from their destructive ways.

 

Thought Control!

 

While we cannot always control our own thoughts, it is at the level of our thoughts that control is exercised. "We can choose to not think what we always thought in order to avoid getting what we always got!" When a thought hits us, we can take control of it and stop it from controlling us by asking five questions:

1. Will it hurt me?

2. Will it control me?

3. What will it do to me?

4. What will it do to others?

5. Does it glorify God?

 

 

If it will not hurt me; if it will not control me; if it will do me and others good and glorify God, then I am safe to entertain that thought.

 

"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." (Proverbs 4:23)