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The Graham Diet was invented around 1829 by Sylvester Graham, a self proclaimed "Physiological Reformer". It was based mainly on whole wheat and high fiber, and excluded meat, butter, and spices altogether. He believed that adhering to the diet would prevent people from having impure thoughts and in turn would stop masturbation (thought by Graham to be a catalyst for blindness) among other things. He was a prolific writer and speaker for his cause which was sternly opposed to "bad habits" of the body and mind. During the 1830's the diet had a moderate response from the mostly puritanical faction of the American public, so much so that at one point it was strictly implemented on students of Oberlin College by David Campbell (a disciple of Graham's). During the period in Sylvester Graham
Sylvester Graham

which it was enforced some rebellious students took it upon themselves to eat off-campus for nourishment, and at one point a Professor was fired for refusing to stop bringing his own pepper for use with his meals. The firing was eventually renounced by the college in 1841 following a public outcry. However the Graham cracker invented by its namesake as a staple for the diet, is one of the only lasting reminders of this 19th century health craze.


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