Is the Buddhist Diet the calm we need right now?

Buddha might have taught about dieting hundreds of years ago. Raised in luxury, the young prince Siddhartha had a taste of decadence before he lived as a wandering ascetic, starving himself nearly to death. The insights of food restrictions Buddha gleaned from his quest can be enlightening for the modern dieter.

And you don’t have to be Buddhist to try it. All you need is a clock, an open mind, and the willingness to endure it.

Deepika Wadhwa, a practitioner of Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism says, “During his lifetime, the Buddha concentrated on defining the basic principles or premises according to which people should live and left it to his adherents to consider exactly how these principles were to be carried out. The principle of ‘oneness of mind and body’ teaches that a healthy body can only be achieved if the mind is kept strong and vice versa. Hence, a strong belief in leading a healthy lifestyle is as important as incorporating healthy foods and exercise in one’s life. Eating at the right time and in right quantity is the Buddhist way of healthy nourishment.”

Like many religions, Buddhism has food restrictions and traditions and is based on three dietary aspects- vegetarianism, alcohol restriction and fasting. Buddhist philosophy condemns any killing as every being has right to live. Manish Khatri, a follower of Buddhism says, “Dietics, under the Buddhist tradition, is based on the principle of non harming. One of the moral percept in the Buddhist noble eight fold path is ‘right conduct’, which puts an onus on Buddhist adherents to refrain from harming or killing any living form. Thus, any individual who is treading the Buddhist path, a vegan diet is a must.”

Read: Boost your immunity with a healthy diet, say experts

The mindful eating of Buddhist monks include green food only. Gurdev Singh, Shaolin Kung Fu disciple says, “Once I asked my Shifu in Shaolin about the reason we were fed with only greens. He gave me an example of a lion who just eats flesh and an elephant who feeds on green vegetation. He said, “A lion can fight for up to 3 hours continuously but gets tired soon. However, an elephant can fight continuously for 20 hours. Hence, green food has more power than flesh.” Scientifically proven, a 100g non veg has less protein than 100g green food and it takes longer to digest. That’s why Buddhist people follow a green diet to keep their internal energy activated and immune system strong.”

The Buddhist diet involves avoiding onions, garlic, fatty oil and poultry products. Trishant Srivastava, a a folower of Buddhism says, “It’s basically a kind of keto diet without any food high in calories. Some monks eat meat but only if it’s not sacrificed for them. In our diet plan we eat only at noon or night because earlier during the 5th century, monks or bhikshu could only go outside during that time.” He adds, “Another ethical teaching of Buddhism prohibits alcohol because it clouds the mind and lead you to break religious rules.”

Read: ‘Proper diet, sleep can treat asymptomatic patients’

For those planning to switch to Buddhist dietary habits during lockdown, Nidhi Shukla Pandey, diet and nutrition consultant lists some benefits of it.

1. Buddhist principles believe in intermittent fasting as a practice of self-control. They abstain from food and drinks from noon until the dawn of the following day. This resembles the intermittent diet plan, which has been popular among health-conscious people. You may find fasting convenient and helpful for weight loss, if that’s a goal of yours.

2. They eat their meals early which you should also try because it boosts metabolism and helps detox your body.

3. Avoiding food items like onion, chives, garlic, etc. is good because they aggravate the digestive system. It also calms the mind and body and Buddhists are strong believer of meditation.

5. They practice mindful eating which means whenever you eat you focus only on your plate because when you put your heart and soul into the food – it starts acting like a medicine. According to modern nutrition science, if you are distracted from your food, it would impact the digestive process adversely.

6. A Buddhist diet follows a primarily plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes and beans which provides important compounds, such as antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and fibre and also benefit your waistline.

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