Buddha Diet: This Is What The Diet Trend Is All About.

Buddha’s diet was not subject to any fads – and perhaps that’s why it’s exactly what should inspire us when it comes to eating. Find out what the Buddha diet is all about here.

In the next few weeks, our bodies are in for a big feast: Roasts, fatty sauces and lots of sweets make for a guilty conscience during Advent.

Instead of counteracting the possible extra kilos with juice cures and other cleansing programs, this ancient nutritional concept might be the right thing to do: the Buddha Diet.

All you need is a watch, a scale, an open mind, and the willingness to endure a few weeks of nightly stomach rumblings.

What is the Buddha diet?

The concept was explained by Dan Zigmond, a writer and Zen priest. Together with co-author Tara Cottrell, he wrote the book ‘Buddha’s Diet: The Ancient Art of Losing Weight Without Losing Your Mind’.

The basis of Buddha’s Diet is a time-restricted diet, also known as intermittent fasting. The concept is simple: instead of worrying about what or how much you eat, focus on the food itself.

In doing so, the window in which you’re allowed to eat gradually shrinks. “We’ve tried to develop our own version of the ‘middle way,'” Zigmond tells ‘Health.com,’ “a way that most people can probably comfortably follow while still reaping the health benefits of an intermittent fasting diet.”

How the Buddha Diet Works

To start the diet, you limit eating windows to 13 hours per day for two weeks (which may be harder than it sounds, since many of us usually eat 15 hours or more per day).

Then you slowly reduce the window to 12 hours per day, then to 11, then to 10, until you reach a daily 9-hour eating window.

That means breakfast at 9 a.m. and dinner no later than 6 p.m., followed by …. Nothing – until the next breakfast.

Zigmond advises everyone on the Buddha Diet to weigh themselves every day. Realizing one’s weight is one way to maintain control over diet and health, he says. Smaller daily fluctuations are to be expected, of course, he said.

What you can eat during the diet

One advantage of the Buddha diet: there are no strict rules about what you can eat – and what is off-limits. “It’s most important to eat food you like and that fills you up,” Zigmond writes: “A diet that makes you miserable won’t last.”

Instead of labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” everyone should think about what is “beneficial” to their bodies (healthy fats, fiber and protein from vegetables or meat products) and what is not (sugar, processed foods, more than two alcoholic drinks a week).

Since you don’t eat anything late at night during the Buddha diet, you’re less likely to overdo it at happy hour or end up on the couch with a carton of ice cream in hand. Incidentally, almost 70 percent of all ice cream is eaten after 6 p.m., as Zigmond explains in his book.

Cheat days are allowed

Although healthy eating is central to the diet, treats are not forbidden. The Buddha Diet not only allows occasional Cheat Days, it actually advocates them. But why?

Zigmond notes that the body adapts to the “environment of food.” By this he means that it slows metabolism and releases hunger hormones when it thinks food is scarce.

The author cites research showing that occasional feasting can actually boost metabolism, causing us to burn more calories and keep said appetite-stimulating hormones in check.

The Buddha diet therefore allows one cheat day per week. On this day, you can eat outside of your schedule. This is the perfect opportunity for parties, birthdays, work events, dates, etc.

Physical fitness plays smaller role

Zigmond also explains that workouts usually don’t burn as many calories as you think – and instead supposedly cause you to get hungry.

The Buddha Diet, therefore, does not in itself require exercise, but encourages anyone who enjoys exercise to continue doing so. After all, Buddha already taught that physical fitness helps “keep our minds strong and clear.”

Zigmond recommends doing workouts right after getting out of bed, citing research showing that 20 percent more fat is burned on an empty stomach than after a meal.

Eat more mindfully

Not eating all of the food on your plate is often considered rude and wasteful. However, this nutritional concept advises reflecting on one’s own hunger pangs while eating.

As you eat, the author advises you to consider whether the rest of the meal is better off in the trash or in your body. “You have a choice,” Zigmond writes. “You can use the trash can or be the trash can yourself.”

Until you get the hang of it, you may throw more food in the trash (or better yet, the compost bin) than you’d like. But once you learn to listen to your own hunger and sense of fullness, that is, to eat more mindfully, you can serve your portions at an appropriate size right from the start.

Zigmond explains that thinking more deeply about where our food comes from can help us make better eating choices.

Part of developing a mindful approach to eating, she says, is developing gratitude for the food we eat.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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