Eat, drink and be merry...but it’s no good

SO here we are again. In what seems like the twink of an eye, it s back at the Perspective desk, Christmas over for another year. How did you enjoy it? Are you still suffering from the excesses of the festive season when the plates are piled up with roast

SO here we are again. In what seems like the twink of an eye, it's back at the Perspective desk, Christmas over for another year.

How did you enjoy it? Are you still suffering from the excesses of the festive season when the plates are piled up with roast dinners, the lids come off the large tins of chocolates, wine bottle corks pop and tins of beer are cracked open?

Just before I headed off to take part in this annual stint of stuffing, I received an interesting little booklet.

It is a compilation of the writings of Dr Thomas Allinson, a health guru 120 years ahead of his time.


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He was telling readers of his column in the popular press that "A man is what he eats" over a century before Gillian McKeith popularised her version of the phrase. Dr Tom was a colourful chap. He was outspoken, controversial and extremely popular (although not with fellow members of the medical profession who got him struck off for his views). He was a believer in naturopathy, arguing that all ills could be treated by good diet and healthy living including fresh air and regular exercise.

It seems highly sensible now but it was revolutionary at the time - when Victorian cities were foul places to live with filth, squalor, polluted air and diseased food prevailing.

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Dr Tom was dead set against smoking and warned against the perils of drink.

He had views on many things, which he was serious about but they can make amusing reading now.

On baldness, he said the causes were "wrong living, improper food, too many meals, intoxicating drinks, tobacco, strong tea and coffee, late hours, bad air, vicious sensual habits, or anything that lowers the tone of the system".

For those who yearned to be bigger in stature, he advised: "Those who want to grow tall must not smoke or take stimulants, and they are better without tea and coffee. Excessive hard work before 16, early sexual excitement, bad air and dark rooms must be avoided."

On passing wind, he said: "To prevent flatulence, avoid peas, beans, lentils, cabbage, onions and radishes, or else put up with the consequences."

On red noses (don't tell the Comic Relief people): "In some it is chronic, in others it only comes on after meals, in a warm room, if excited, or after exposure to the sun, wind or very cold weather. An excess in waste matters in the system is the primary cause."

And on children he said: "The longer they are out in the open air the better for them. Let them be out in all weathers; wind will give colour to their cheeks, the sun will tan them (they did not have the depletion of the ozone layer in those days making the rays potentially harmful) and the rain will not harm them." Try telling that to modern day kids in their centrally heated homes crouched in front of their computers playing video games.

It has been a pleasure spending some of Christmas getting to know Dr Tom's views. It certainly made a change from watching rubbish on the TV.

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