Friends and I were having a discussion about eating fruits and vegetables at the same meal. What determines what is a fruit and what is a vegetable? Also, what did Mrs. White suggest on this subject, and where can we find it?
Here are Mrs. White’s few statements on this subject, as found in the compilation Counsels on Diet and Foods:
There should not be a great variety at any one meal, for this encourages overeating, and causes indigestion.
It is not well to eat fruit and vegetables at the same meal. If the digestion is feeble, the use of both will often cause distress, and inability to put forth mental effort. It is better to have the fruit at one meal, and the vegetables at another (112).
Here is one reason why some have not been successful in their efforts to simplify their food. . . . Food is prepared without painstaking, and there is a continual sameness. There should not be many kinds at any one meal, but all meals should not be composed of the same kinds of food without variation. Food should be prepared with simplicity, yet with a nicety which will invite the appetite. . . . Eat largely of fruits and vegetables (200).
In the night seasons, it seemed that Elder —— was taken sick, and an experienced physician said to you, “I took notice of your diet. You eat too great a variety at one meal. Fruit and vegetables taken at one meal produce acidity of the stomach; then impurity of the blood results, and the mind is not clear because the digestion is imperfect” (112, 113).
Some honestly think that a proper dietary consists chiefly of porridge. To eat largely of porridge would not ensure health to the digestive organs; for it is too much like liquid. Encourage the eating of fruit and vegetables and bread. . . . If we would preserve the best health, we should avoid eating vegetables and fruit at the same meal. If the stomach is feeble, there will be distress, the brain will be confused, and unable to put forth mental effort. Have fruit at one meal and vegetables at the next (394, 395).
Botanically speaking, a fruit is the seed-bearing portion of a plant, while a vegetable may be another portion of the plant.
While all of us may be free to decide for ourselves how to apply these statements, I will simply note that Mrs. White’s cautions against eating fruits and vegetables at the same meal seem to cluster around two concerns: too great a variety of food at one meal (which tempts us to overeat), and the needs of some who have feeble digestive organs. Mrs. White herself did not rigidly separate fruits and vegetables in her own eating, for we have favorable reports from her of meals in which items from both categories are named.
In light of these things, it seems to me that those who have either of the two problems that Mrs. White mentioned in this regard would be well advised to follow this counsel. It seems to have been given especially for them. Others may not need to be careful about it, but may, at times, have both at the same meal, as Mrs. White herself did.