Why one meal a day?

A place to discuss health and fitness, healthy diets. A fit body makes for a fit mind.
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Chula
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Post by 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" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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.

alan
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Post by 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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Chula
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Post by 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" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
I suggest you research this more yourself.

Whether this is scientifically proven or not is beside the point.

alan
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Post by 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?

Post by 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!

seanpdx
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Post by 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" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Of course, the simplest answer is also the most obvious. To prevent clinging to food.

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Kokoro
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Post by 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.

:anjali:

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Cittasanto
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Post by 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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Paññāsikhara
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Post by 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.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.

tabhastal
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Post by 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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mikenz66
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Dec 24, 2009 2:41 am

tabhastal wrote: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. ...
Of course. And sometimes monks are advised by a doctor to eat in the evening, so they do. I knew one personally.

And remember that fluids such as tea or fruit juice and certain "tonics" are allowed (it varies, but the Ajahn Chah monks, for example, often have snacks of dark chocolate). So it's not as if one can't have some sugar.

Anyway, as has been pointed out, the common practise is two meals.

Metta
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Cittasanto
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Post by Cittasanto » Thu Dec 24, 2009 2:51 am

tabhastal wrote: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.
that is why there are exceptions! the five tonics as an example, but the practice of one meal a day is not for someone doing hard manual labour, but a meditator who will obviously have different nutrient requirements than someone who is running a marathon everyday, or sick! and the meal period is from dawn till noon, that means food can be eaten then not after, it is not the same as the one sessioner practice which is one sitting.
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

suanck
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Re: Why one meal a day?

Post by suanck » Thu Dec 24, 2009 4:02 am

When I am attending an organized meditation retreat (10 days) or self-retreat (2-3 days), I try to observe the 8 precepts (including the precept of not eating after mid-day).

However, due to illness, I need to eat something before taking medication in the evening. Usually, it's a slice (or 2) of bread with a glass of warm milk. So, I used to say half-jokingly to my Dhamma friends: "I'm a seven-and-half preceptor"!

Suan

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Re: Why one meal a day?

Post by Paññāsikhara » Thu Dec 24, 2009 4:22 am

For those with medical conditions, they simply consume what they need as "medicine".
This has always been part of the whole notion of "one meal a day". It has never been applied as an absolute rule without exceptions or reflection.
My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: Huifeng's Prajnacara Blog.

vpopov81
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1 meal a day

Post by vpopov81 » Mon Feb 01, 2010 4:49 am

Does anyone here take only 1 meal a day? Can you tell me your experiences with this? How many calories do you pack in that meal?? Is it harmful to eat once a day? I know theravada monks in my area who eat 2 meals a day but never after noon. And the meals are big too. I am curious as to talk to someone who takes little food and his her experience with that.

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