Why one meal a day?

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Why one meal a day?

Postby alan » Wed Dec 23, 2009 6:41 am

Monks have to follow the rules, but why would anyone else take up the unhealthy practice of restricting your food?
Is there some inherent virtue in this practice?
Thanks
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Dec 23, 2009 7:17 am

alan wrote:Monks have to follow the rules, but why would anyone else take up the unhealthy practice of restricting your food?
Is there some inherent virtue in this practice?
Thanks


Always check the historical context:

Because for monks and nuns who walked into the towns and villages from the forest edges each day, which may take a couple of hours for the round trip, and also because they rely on devotees, who may not exactly have a huge amount of foodstuffs around the house, this became the tradition.

For those involved in full time meditation practice, not much physical food is required to keep the body healthy, and over eating easily leads to mental and physical torpor which are definite obstructions to meditative absorption.
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Postby poto » Wed Dec 23, 2009 7:52 am

For monks they have those rules. Although, I have thought that nutritional science might one day be allowed to replace the one meal a day rule with something more scientific.

For lay people I don't see it as being important.

I've lived on an extreme ascetic diet for periods of time before. I do understand from personal experience that during full time meditations it's possible to subsist on very little. I'm not trying to disrespect tradition. I understand that one meal a day does seem to work well for a lot of monastics. If they are happy with it and it works for them, then they should be allowed to continue it.
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Postby acinteyyo » Wed Dec 23, 2009 9:16 am

alan wrote:Monks have to follow the rules, but why would anyone else take up the unhealthy practice of restricting your food?
Is there some inherent virtue in this practice?
Thanks


I made it. see here. I tried to explain the reason why I took the one-sessioner's practice. Ordinary work and the laylife itself makes it difficult, in my opinion. But for me it brought the results I wanted to accomplish.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: Why one meal a day?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:22 am

The Buddha recommended one meal a day for health reasons. It is untrue that this practice is unhealthy.

In the Bhaddāli Sutta of the Majjhimanikāya the elder Bhaddāli was reluctant to follow this training rule.

In fact, the body can get accustomed to all manner of different routines. While in Burma, I ate two good meals daily — at 5:15 am, and again at 11:00 am. In the Thai forest tradition they eat only once, at about 9:00 am after returning from alms round. It was hard at first, but one soon gets used to it. Nowadays, I usually eat my main meal at about 7:00 am, then take some fruit at 11:00 am.

Eating only in the mornings is no hardship at all once one becomes accustomed to it. The food is thoroughly digested by the following day, and regular bowel motions ensure good health.

This training rule is easy to keep in a monastic environment as food is simply not available after the meal time. For lay people, it is much harder to keep this precept, as they may see food or see others eating, which can make you feel hungry although you have already had sufficient food for nutrition.
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:24 am

Hi Everyone,

I've just completed a week of the one-sessioner's practice while following the 8 precepts. The great thing about the precepts, whether they be 5, 8, 10 or 227 is that they are all optional. You don't have to follow them. If you take the Lord Buddha as your guide and have saddha that he was fully enlightened and the incomparable teacher of gods and men then it would follow that the practice he devised (or allowed in the case of the uposatha) is conducive to the goal. Although I don't believe this practice is harmful to one's health let's remember that (even in the case that it is) the Buddha's Dhamma-Vinaya isn't about increasing one's lifespan or looking pretty, it's about complete and total liberation from dukkha. Anyway, I apologize for the rant but I wonder why people want to question the Dhamma-Vinaya before they question their own resistance. Be well.

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Re: Why one meal a day?

Postby alan » Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:58 am

Because it seems pointless, and I see no inherent virtue in it.

(As for health, it is well established that several small meals spaced regularly throughout the day is optimal, along with some vigorous exercise).

Rules written to deal with the needs of a group of wanderers and the people they depended on in a totally different era--sorry, I'm going to question them.

Cheers!
Last edited by alan on Wed Dec 23, 2009 12:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Wed Dec 23, 2009 12:02 pm

alan wrote:Because it seems pointless and is certainly unhealthy, and I see no inherent virtue in it.


Then don't do it. It's that simple.

Have you ever lived a lifestyle of full time meditation practice, or full time Dhamma study?
If not, then it may be a bit early do declare outright that it is unhealthy and of no virtue.

Because an awful lot of Dhamma practitioners have certainly found both good health (physical and mental) in it, and also found that it is a support for a great range of virtues too (when used as a basis for proper Dhamma practice).
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Wed Dec 23, 2009 12:11 pm

Paññāsikhara wrote:
alan wrote:Because it seems pointless and is certainly unhealthy, and I see no inherent virtue in it.


Then don't do it. It's that simple.

Have you ever lived a lifestyle of full time meditation practice, or full time Dhamma study?
If not, then it may be a bit early do declare outright that it is unhealthy and of no virtue.

Because an awful lot of Dhamma practitioners have certainly found both good health (physical and mental) in it, and also found that it is a support for a great range of virtues too (when used as a basis for proper Dhamma practice).


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To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Dec 23, 2009 4:46 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:The Buddha recommended one meal a day for health reasons. It is untrue that this practice is unhealthy.


:thumbsup:

I have been practicing the one-meal a day program for several years and have no problems with it. My weight stays normalized (most of the time), I am healthier, more fit, relaxed, sleep better, and have more free time. The only times my weight has gone up is actually when I briefly go off the one-meal program, for example, for social reasons, holidays, family reunions, etc. When I stay consistently on the program, my health is all the way better, in every way.

http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?tit ... meal_a_day
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Postby Chula » Wed Dec 23, 2009 4:47 pm

Eating multiple small meals spaced out being more healthy has been shown to be a myth for some time:
http://www.thepeopleschemist.com/blog/2 ... r-day.html
It's just another instance of the prevalent obsession with health (and more specifically weight-loss)..

Regardless, eating just one complete meal for the day has many benefits when one gets used to it, among them:
  • Much less time of the day worrying about food, more time to practice
  • Much, much less sloth & torpor since there isn't the drowsiness after the meal (this is mentioned in multiple places in the suttas)
  • Great way to practice appropriate attention (yoniso manasikāra) - because even after having multiple meals, improperly attending to food can lead to sensual cravings that can be mistaken for hunger. When having just one meal for the day this is brought right into the middle of the picture - there is no running away from sensual desire - you have to deal with it right then and there. As a result mindfulness & alertness (satisampajaññā) gets a decided boost, and you start seeing the purpose of sense restraint (indriya saṃvara) - which is a cornerstone of the path.

Of course, for householders this practice is meant only to be undertaken on Uposatha days. This is all obviously done voluntarily.
As the previous posters did, I'd like to caution criticizing a practice and making quick assumptions without ever undertaking it yourself or talking to people who have.

alan wrote:Because it seems pointless, and I see no inherent virtue in it.

(As for health, it is well established that several small meals spaced regularly throughout the day is optimal, along with some vigorous exercise).
Rules written to deal with the needs of a group of wanderers and the people they depended on in a totally different era--sorry, I'm going to question them.

Cheers!
Last edited by Chula on Thu Dec 24, 2009 10:21 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Postby alan » Wed Dec 23, 2009 5:35 pm

Some people have had decent results with eating once a day, I'll accept that. But Chula's link is to a site that is an offense to the intellect.
Just go to their home page and see the mock interview with Obama. It is pathetic.

Reason, people. I insist on reason. No fair putting out nonsense.
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Postby Chula » Wed Dec 23, 2009 5:53 pm

Sorry if that link was not appropriate - I had read an authoritative scientific article refuting the multiple meals theory before.. on this occasion I just gave the first link from a google search..
Maybe this is a better link: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/ ... ekey=56254
I suggest you research this more yourself.

Whether this is scientifically proven or not is beside the point.
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Postby alan » Wed Dec 23, 2009 6:06 pm

Hi Chula. Thanks for the better link.
I have done many years of research; there is no doubt that regular vigorous exercise and a diet of good fats, high quality protein and only the best carbs--like broccoli--is the best path to good health. Westonaprice.com is a great place to start for anyone interested in this subject.

Cheers!
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Postby alan » Wed Dec 23, 2009 6:12 pm

Sorry--westonaprice.org.
Great stuff!
Even if you don't agree with my opinions or really think I'm kind of a jerk---check it out. I promise it will be to your long term benefit!
Cheers!
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Postby seanpdx » Wed Dec 23, 2009 9:33 pm

alan wrote:Sorry--westonaprice.org.
Great stuff!
Even if you don't agree with my opinions or really think I'm kind of a jerk---check it out. I promise it will be to your long term benefit!
Cheers!


I wasn't going to post, but since the obvious retort doesn't appear to have been posted yet:

Want to know why the vinaya rules exist? Read the vinaya. If you don't want to read the entirety of the vinaya itself, read the next best thing. Ajahn Thanissaro's "Buddhist Monastic Code". I'll even post the link: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... intro.html

Of course, the simplest answer is also the most obvious. To prevent clinging to food.
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Postby Kokoro » Wed Dec 23, 2009 10:03 pm

Forgive my apparent lack of memory if this has been posted above but I think it's important to point out that although one may observe the practice of taking one meal per day, I am fairly sure it is correct to say that one may take a drink of water or tea throughout the day. Even if one takes only one meal and drinks only water the rest of the day, assuming that meal is well-balanced and healthy, the practicioner should be able to maintain a good level of health and energy.

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Re: Why one meal a day?

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Dec 23, 2009 10:15 pm

Kokoro wrote:Forgive my apparent lack of memory if this has been posted above but I think it's important to point out that although one may observe the practice of taking one meal per day, I am fairly sure it is correct to say that one may take a drink of water or tea throughout the day. Even if one takes only one meal and drinks only water the rest of the day, assuming that meal is well-balanced and healthy, the practicioner should be able to maintain a good level of health and energy.

:anjali:


I don't think it is specifically mentioned above but yes, so long as it isn't classed as food (one of the five tonics for instance), there is a thread on the five tonics on the go at the moment if you are interested.
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Thu Dec 24, 2009 1:33 am

alan wrote:Hi Chula. Thanks for the better link.
I have done many years of research; there is no doubt that regular vigorous exercise and a diet of good fats, high quality protein and only the best carbs--like broccoli--is the best path to good health. Westonaprice.com is a great place to start for anyone interested in this subject.

Cheers!


Good physical health, sure, that may be the case.

But the Dhamma is more about good mental health, which comes about through removing taints within the mind. This in turn is done through the trainings in morality, meditation and insight.

These lead to the state of liberation, nibbana, which is known as true "health". A healthy body which is still afflicted with craving, aversion and ignorance is of secondary worth in Buddhism.

Have you also carried out "many years of research" into these three trainings? Many of the posters above have, and that is why they are answering as they do. You seem to have an implicit assumption that people are only making these statements without having tried them, but I assure you that this is not the case.
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Postby tabhastal » Thu Dec 24, 2009 1:44 am

While one meal a day may be okay for people who are already healthy, it is a big mistake for people who are sensitive to levels of blood sugar such as diabetics and pre-diabetics. Blood sugar has a direct connection with mood, ability to concentrate and hunger. The absorption rates of carbohydrates can be somewhat control by eating low glycemic carbs. Blood sugar levels are affected throughout the day by food, exercise, stress and must be controlled through regulation of food, even for those who use medication and insulin. Diabetics simply cannot eat one meal per day and expect to stay healthy.

So the "one meal a day" thing must be considered in light of one's own health. If you are sensitive to changing levels of blood sugar, lack of appropriate amounts of carbs at specific times will only result in problems. And all the meditation you can do will not save your eyes, kidneys or legs.
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