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Sherlock Holmes cartoon
from Dining with Sherlock Holmes by Rosenblatt and Sonnenschmidt

The Sherlock Holmes Diet could also be called the 40-Chews Diet. The concept of 40 chews per bite was passed down to me from my father, General Harold Rufus Jackson, who always said that we should chew each bite 40 times to insure that it was well chewed and, in fact, liquified. Once food is liquified in the mouth, it tastes wonderful, and it is ready to swallow without the danger of heartburn and indigestion.

Like me, General Jackson was a big promoter of healthful practices. The 40 chews concept was only one of his remedies. In addition, he had remedies for sore backs, hemorrhoids, foot cramps, prostate infections, contagion, itchy ears, burns, a stuffy nose, and infections.

His life story is interesting. His father, a carpenter and house builder, lacked the money to send my father to college, so my father entered the University of Illinois as a pre-med student without any financial support. To support himself in college he shoveled coal into furnaces. He had been at the University for about six months when he received a telephone call from his high school principal, who, in turn, had heard from "Uncle Joe" Cannon, then Speaker of the House of Representatives. Uncle Joe was looking for a young man who would succeed at West Point. Did his friend, the high school principal, know of any such promising young man? Uncle Joe had been disappointed in the young men that he had recently appointed. Out of the blue, Uncle Joe offered my father an appointment to West Point. That was the end of his plan to become a doctor, but throughout his life he was fascinated by anything medical and lived his life in the most sober, healthful way. He died at the age of 93 because a nurse thought that he was dehydrated and injected him with saline solution, which brought on congestive heart failure.

Of course, nobody actually follows my father's advice to count every bite 40 times. Nevertheless, the concept is important. Once we get used to the idea of chewing food thoroughly, starting out by counting the number of chews per bite, we achieve something new in dieting - really tasting our food. When food is really tasted, the satisfaction in eating overcomes a person's interest in eating a lot. A limited amount of food is enough. However, it should be noted that large bites taste better than small bites. (Fruit juices, on the other hand, taste better sipped.)

Gourmets are the lucky eaters. They enjoy every bite. The food is almost too precious to swallow.

The Sherlock Holmes dieter develops a preference for food that has to be well chewed. High-calorie liquids, such as beer and sugary soft drinks, come to be seen as unaesthetic.


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