Diets have been compared to religions: Some followers are strict adherents while others take a few liberties, and both frequently contain themes surrounding a cleanse or purification of some sort. So it’s no surprise that many diets were inspired by religions or mirror specific religions in one way or another.
Lots of people are familiar with the idea of rubbing a Buddha statue’s belly for good luck, but Buddha was actually in better shape than that.
Tricycle, an educational nonprofit focused on Buddhism, makes note of that in discussing the book “Buddha’s Diet: The Ancient Art of Losing Weight Without Losing Your Mind,” a guide to eating healthy in the same way the Buddhist deity did.
Co-author Dan Zigmond describes Buddha’s and monks’ method of eating only between dawn and noon, for example. When he spent time at a monastery in Thailand, he found that aside from the time rule, “The monks basically ate whatever they wanted, which was whatever the local people gave them on their begging rounds.”
It became a fad a few years ago to skip certain meals or fast entirely on some days in order to lose weight. Intermittent fasting in some ways seems similar to the concept of Ramadan, the month-long Muslim holiday in which followers do not eat during daylight hours.
The jury is still out on the secular diet, although advocates tout benefits as emotionally based as not having to give up eating tasty foods when not fasting, and as scientifically based as allowing the body to take out the trash — Scientific American says fasting “ramps up autophagy, a kind of garbage-disposal system in cells that gets rid of damaged molecules, including ones that have been previously tied to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases.”