January 2, 1892
Dr Emmet Densmore describes the rationale of the meat diet basing it on Dr Salisbury and Emma Stuart's recent work. "A good quality of beef or mutton, roasted or broiled, to the average stomach will be found quite easy of digestion. All persons who are at all corpulent, having more adipose tissue or fat than is natural, will find this diet of special value."
How Nature Cures
Important as the hot water treatment is, the meat diet is far more so. The Salisbury treatment may be said to consist of two factors : first, the practice of taking a large amount of hot water on an empty stomach ; and second, confining the patient to lean flesh, preferably beef, minced or scraped to thoroughly break down and as far as possible remove the connective tissue. The leg or ham of beef — that portion usually sold as round or buttock steak — is the part preferred. It is recommended in the case of very delicate stomachs that the fat, gristle, and like parts be removed, and that the lean flesh be run through a meat-chopper two or three times to insure a thorough breaking down of the connective tissue. This minced meat should be loosely made up into round balls from half an inch to an inch or more in thickness, and three or four inches in diameter. Let a frying-pan be made very hot, and the meat balls placed in it, shaking the frying-pan to keep the meat from burning; when the surface has been browned, turn the ball over, cover- ing the frying-pan to keep in the steam, and set it back where the meat will cook gently but continuously. It should be cooked until all the red color has disappeared. A small portion of salt, and when desired a very little pepper, may be added. All persons taking this treatment who are not too stout are advised to add fresh butter to the meat ; and when the butter is salted no further addition of salt is necessary. When preferred, the meat cakes can be placed on a common grill or broiler, turning the grill often until the red has disappeared from the center of the balls.
Mrs. Stuart prefers a preparation of stewed meat, as follows : In preparing beef for a Salisbury steak, a considerable portion of valuable meat must be discarded. This is utilized by slow and long boiling until the value of the meat is extracted in soup. Then to one and a half pounds of the minced meat add about a pint of the meat soup, which has first been allowed to cool and the fat removed. Add a little salt and pepper, and stew over a gentle fire until the redness of the meat has disappeared. It will be found that it is not necessary to boil the meat; boiling dissipates some of the valuable elements, and distinctly damages it, but it can be thoroughly cooked without boiling. Many people prefer this method of cooking to the broiled cakes, and it affords a variety to those who care for it.
Most persons reading these directions for the first time will think at once that such a diet would be very repulsive and cloying to the appetite. Surprising as it may seem, a majority of those who confine themselves to this food come to relish it greatly, and not particularly to miss the lack of bread or other usual foods. It has long been known that hunger is the best sauce ; and when an adequate food is furnished to a hungry man, the food is relished, digested, assimilated, and passed off, leaving the system with a good appetite when the time comes for more food.
It will be found by all persons who try this diet that it is not difficult if they resolutely abstain from the use of all other foods. If, however, they indulge themselves at the outset by tasting, in what may seem to be trifling quantities, other and accustomed kinds of food, the appetite for the beef is very likely to vanish, and the patient will find considerable difficulty in sticking to it. Fortunately, for all those not obese and who are not taking this diet largely for effecting a reduction of their weight, it is not necessary to be wholly confined, as Dr. Salisbury recommends, to the minced beef. We have found that all the conditions that may be obtained from a strict adherence to the beef and hot water regime are obtained by the addition of some food-fruits to this diet. These fruits may be dates, stewed figs, prunes, raisins, sultanas, and — when thoroughly ripe and of good quality before drying — peaches or apricots. If too much of this fruit be eaten it will cause acidity and flatulence ; on the other hand, if those persons confining themselves to the Salisbury diet will gradually add such food-fruits, they will find a distinctly better relish with the meals, the removal of more or less longing that is inevitable with those who are eating only the meat, and a greatly improved tendency toward the removal of constipation.
At the same time, it must be borne in mind that to some patients there appears to be nothing so easily digested, that at the same time gives anything like so much nourishment and vitality, as the pulp of lean meat; and if the addition of fruits even when made cautiously produces flatulence, heartburn, or other evidences that there is fermentation instead of digestion, to such very weak stomachs it is best to rely for the time upon beef alone, and until the stomach is so far restored that such fruits may be safely added.
The rationale of the beef and hot water treatment is easily understood; that of the hot water is already given. Health depends upon nourishment; a food may be rich in all the elements of nutrition, and yet be valueless to a person either because it is of itself unfitted to human digestion, or because the digestion of such person has been weakened by wrong habits, or by heredity, or by both, and is thus rendered unable to get nourishment from such ill-adapted food. All persons out of health, and all whose digestion is weak, and whose nervous system has been overstrained — and this classification includes vast numbers, a great majority in civilization — are in need of a food which will give greatest nourishment for the least expenditure of vital force. The lean meat of our domestic animals, and of some kinds of game, and especially that of beef, answers this demand in a remarkable degree. A good quality of beef or mutton, roasted or broiled, to the average stomach will be found quite easy of digestion, and is more conveniently obtained than the minced meat, though flesh that has been well chopped or minced has its connective tissue largely destroyed, and this connective tissue offers the chief obstacle in the way of digestion. This can also be broken down by continuous cooking for hours in succession. A simple method of accomplishing this is to put the meat into a covered tin or copper vessel, and place this in a large stewing vessel. Insert a piece of brick, coal or like substance between the bottom of the vessel containing the meat and the bottom of the stewpan or boiler; fill with water that will surround the inside vessel but not enter it; cover also the larger vessel, bring it to a boil, and keep it gently boiling for about five hours. No water is to be placed in the vessel containing the meat; and it will be found after long cooking that the connective tissue is substantially destroyed, the meat is exceedingly tender, its juices are all retained, and many of the advantages secured that result from mincing the beef. A good way of cooking such meat, also, is to boil in an ordinary boiler with but little water until thoroughly done — from four to six hours. In whatever way meat is cooked, skin, gristle, and indigestible lumps must not be eaten; these substances are very difficult to digest, and must be avoided.
If this food be taken only in such quantities as the needs of the system demand, it will be found to be less liable to fermentation than most foods, and persons troubled with flatulence or any other evidence of a weakened state of the stomach and bowels will find this food especially favourable to the recovery of strength and vigorous digestive power.
All persons who are at all corpulent, having more adipose tissue or fat than is natural, will find this diet of special value; and all such will do well to exclude, until they are reduced to a normal weight, the fat portions of the meat, and refrain from the use of butter or sweet fruits. A continuous exclusive diet of lean beef in quantities barely sufficient for the needs of the systern, with the addition of stewed tomatoes or spinach and a moderate amount of lettuce and like salads, is sure to reduce almost any obese person to their normal weight. When such weight is reached, butter and oil may be gradually added to the dietary, and also the food fruits. One great advantage of a diet composed of a moderate amount of animal flesh, as beef and mutton, and a considerable portion of the food-fruits — dates, figs, prunes, sultanas, apples, etc. — is that these fruits are distinctly aperient, and overcome the tendency to constipation which is quite sure to be induced by an exclusive meat diet. When for any reason these fruits are excluded from the dietary, recourse must be had to a mild aperient. A leading symptom by which to differentiate between health and illness is the color and appearance of the skin. Persons accustomed to a free use of cereals and starchy vegetables, when out of health are quite apt to have a pale or anaemic color, and a rough and blotchy skin. All such persons who will adopt the diet herein recommended will be gratified to see in a few weeks' time improvement in their complexion. A pink, healthy hue takes the place of the pale color, and the skin becomes soft and pliable. Many persons in middle life have more or less accumulations of dandruff in the head and hair, which is sometimes so plentiful as to need brush- ing from the clothes several times a day. This condition is frequently changed by the adoption of this diet, and sometimes entirely overcome.