Thomas Edison: Americans Are Food Drunk

In an interview conducted in 1905 and recently unearthed from archives, the famous inventor Thomas Edison urged his fellow Americans to eat less.

Work Harder and Don’t Sleep Too Much is Remainder of Wizard’s Advice

Country Food Drunk


According to Thomas A. Edison, the country is food drunk. He says it is a fact that people eat too much and sleep too much, and don’t work enough. The average man would be much better off and would do much better work if he would cut down his food and sleep and labor a little harder.

“Men eat and sleep themselves stupid,” said the Wizard of Menlo Park. “Sometimes they eat and sleep themselves into the grave. They talk about working too hard. That is absolute nonsense. Generally speaking, a man can’t work too hard. Work does him good.”

“Why, I’ve worked five days and nights without sleep and with little food and did as good work under those conditions as ever I did in my life. This was when I was working on the incandescent lamp.”

Edison holding incandescent bulb

“Some time ago, my stomach troubled me. I didn’t know what the matter was, but I imagine now it was the X-ray that caused some internal constriction. It also drew my left eye out of focus, although that trouble since has disappeared. You know that the X-ray so affected one of my assistants that the doctors had to amputate one limb after another. They literally cut him to pieces, and finally he died. His brother, who is out in the laboratory, also was affected by the X-rays.”

Inventor Tells of His Rememdies (Diet)

“However, when my trouble became acute I began to experiment with my diet to see what would become of it. I always had been a light eater, but I decided to cut down my food still more. For two months, I lived on four ounces of food each meal. That made 12 ounces of food a day. Of course I varied the food. I would take a teaspoonful of peas, a small pieces of toast and caviar, a tiny sandwich, a little bit of ham, a fragment of rye bread with Swiss cheese, and so on.”

“What was the result? At the end of two months of this diet, I weighed just as much as when I began, exactly 185 pounds.”

Edison Height Weight BMI

“I found living on 12 ounces of food a day for four weeks had made me mentally brighter and neither had diminished my strength nor my weight. And mind you, I had been working just as hard as before I cut down the size of my meals.”

“Louis Cornaro, a Venetian, wrote a book on how to live long. He lived a life of excess until he was nearly 40 years old. He was weak and melancholy, and could accomplish nothing. His doctors told him he was on the straight road to death. Then he decided to change his way of living. The principal change made was to eat less. He grew strong, him mind became brighter and more cheerful, and he lived to be 100 years old.”

“Now, my father lived to be 94 years old. My grandfather lived to be 102 years old. My great-grandfather lived to be 104 years old. All three were disciples of Cornaro, and lived according to his ideas.”

Edison himself died on October 18, 1931, reportedly from complications of diabetes in his home in West Orange, New Jersey. He was 84 years old.