The No Breakfast Plan…from 1900

As Intermittent Fasting (IF) takes off more into the mainstream (2 new IF  “diet” books just came out), it’s probably inevitable that people start calling IF a “fad diet”.

That’s just how things go in the mainstream. Start small, builds up a following and then is launched by others as the “newest and revolutionary” diet.

However it seems that this idea is not really that new or revolutionary. (*Gasp* I know!)

In fact, the idea of promoting “skipping breakfast” in a published book goes all the way back to….1900!

The No Breakfast Plan (and The Fasting-Cure) was published back in 1900 by Edward Hooker Dewey MD. Dr Dewey was a strong promoter of using more natural approaches to allow the body to heal itself rather than compromise it with other treatments (drugs or excess food intake).

He was a strong believer in that using excess energy for digestion (eating all the time) was only depleting the energy required for Nature’s ability to repair our bodies.

I have since found that my greatest service at the beds of the sick is as an interpreter of symptoms rather than a vender of drugs.

As my experience enlarged so did my faith in Nature; Most of the cases of disease that fall to the care of the physician are trivial, self-limited, and rapidly recover under even the most crucifying dosages; Nature really winning the victories, the physician carrying off the honors.

Feed, feed the sick whether or not, say all the doctors, say all the books, to support strength or to keep life in the body, and yet Nature was absurd enough to ignore all human practice evolved from experience, and in her own way to support vital power while curing the disease.

I’m sure if Dr Dewey was around today his views about “symptoms” as “Nature’s cries for help” would not have changed much in our ongoing battle with chronic diseases and obesity.

While it’s not a “diet” book (or one geared for muscle building), it is still an interesting read considering this was done 100+ years ago and many people are coming back to these same conclusions today (with some better science to explain it all).

I’m sure some will want to critique many aspects of the book, but I suggest when reading (anything) that you use an open mind, critical thinking and do as Bruce Lee would have done.

Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own. ~ Bruce Lee (Click to Tweet)

Here are some more quotes from Dr Dewey’s book which you can get the full text for FREE online too (see below).

In time of health, if we eat when we are not hungry, or when very tired, or in any mental worriment, we find that we suffer a loss of vital power, of both physical and mental energy. How, then, can food be a support to vital power when the brain is more gravely depressed by disease?

As soon as the stomach and bowels became empty the friends noticed that nervousness largely disappeared. His sleeps were much longer, because not broken by coughing as before; and as the brain was not taxed with food masses there was an accumulation of power that was clearly revealed in the cheer of expression and a calmness as if heavenly rest had come at last.

The meals, thence on, would be so far apart that all would be keenly relished; and there could be no loss of weight when meals would be so taken.

Overeating is so universal from the general ignorance of practical physiology that few stomachs have a time for a full clearing with the needed rest before the time of another filling arrives. 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.

There came a morning when for the first time I remembered that when in ordinary health I had no desire to breakfast; but there was a sense of such general exhaustion from power wasted over an unusual food mass not needed at the previous evening meal that my morning coffee was craved as the morning dram by the chronic toper. Only this, and a forenoon resulted of such comfort of body, such cheer, and such mental and physical energy as had never been realized since my young manhood was happy in the blessed unconsciousness of having a stomach that, no matter how large or how numerous the daily meals, never complained.

As for the dinner that followed, it was taken with an acuteness of relish and was handled with a power of digestion that were also a new, rich experience; but the afternoon fell far short of the forenoon. The experience was so remarkable that I at once gave up all eating in the morning, and with such reviving effects upon all my powers that the results began to be noticed by all friends.

So originated the no-breakfast plan. Up to this time I had never had a thought of advising anyone to do without food when desired; much less that any of the three daily meals should be given up. My war was against feeding when acute sickness had abolished all desire for food, and this I had been able to conduct many years without exciting suspicion of a general practice of homicide.

The improvement in my own case was so instant and so marked that I began to advise the same to others, and with the result that each would make known the redeeming work to suffering friends, and so the idea spread in a friend-to-friend way.

The no-breakfast plan with me proved a matter of life unto life. With my morning coffee there were forenoons of the highest physical energy, the clearest condition of mind, and the acutest sense of everything enjoyable.

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.

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.

I do find all the references to the “coffee breakfast” strike home, as I have adopted the same routine as well (and wonder if Dr Dewey would also support my coconut oil addition to it too).

The last quote I will put from the No Breakfast Plan also appears from a previous work of Dr Dewey called “The True Science of Living” as a testimonial from a Rev G. S. Richards in the introduction. I thought all the points were so interesting (and relevant to many people’s experiences) that I have included them all below.

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.

Whether you choose to eat a light breakfast, skip breakfast or get addicted to just a morning cup of coffee with coconut oil, it’s all your choice. If you find what works, that is all that matters….but personally, I don’t see myself going back to the old “breakfast” habit that only made me more tired and less alert.

You can download the full text/book for the No Breakfast Plan (and The Fasting Cure) FREE from either:

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