There are numerous literature concerning food and eating in Buddhism.
It was recorded that Sujata, a beautiful maiden of noble household offered the ascetic Siddhartha food just before he was about to attain Enlightenment and become the Buddha.
In another story, a simple housewife during the Buddha’s time faithfully offered food to 2 monks every morning. She decided to learn meditation from these 2 monks one day. She meditate diligently during her spare time and succeeded in gaining Enlightenment.
After she was Enlightened, she used her enlightened mental state to read the mind of her teachers (the 2 monks) She discovered that they were not Enlightened yet and sincerely wanted to help them.
She know that they would not be receptive to her guidance on meditation and decided that she can help by preparing food that is conducive towards their physical and mental health to aid them in meditation.
Therefore, she started using her psychic ability to check the mental and physical health of the monks every evening. Then she would prepare beneficial food and offer the food to her teachers with gratitude. Due to the care from this lady, the two monks benefited greatly and can meditate with better success. Before long, they attained Enlightenment too.
Here’s sharing some tips about food and eating
A balance diet is essential and is also a great chance to practice equanimity. When confronted with food that is not appetising to us, we should still show gratitude and eat up.
Try to eat a variety of food and practice the rainbow diet. That means to eat food of various colour combination.
Try eating food that are prepared in different ways. For example, we should not just eat deep fried food. The cooking method can be broadly categorised into Yin or Yang. do not stick to just one method. here’s the classification
Yang cooking – Deep fried, barbecue, baking & roasting, pan fried, stir fried
Yin Cooking – Boiled, steam, soup, double boiled, raw (as in sushi and salad)
Food prepared with loving kindness has good vibes and energy. You can taste the sincerity and feeling of the person cooking the food. In Buddhism, food is considered medicine for keeping life and is treated with respect.
Food is ideally prepared with loving kindness and mindfulness. Sometimes I will sing a mantra when I prepare food. Here’s om mani padme hum recorded when I was making Matcha Gelato on a lazy Saturday.
Buddhist do not say grace before meal. However, we do reflections. Fundamentally is to reflect that the food is for nourishing our impermanent body. Therefore food is a necessity for living regardless of taste.
For some certain Buddhists, we may also mentally offer the food to Buddha and Bodhisattva before we start eating as a practice of respect and recollection of the practice of dana.
During the meal, there should be silence. If we are out entertaining, we can practice mindfulness by following the rule “when you speak, don’t chew, if you chew don’t talk”
Buddhism recommend mindful eating if the situation permits.
Mindfulness include chewing slowly and mindfully. If the food is tasty and our mind had attachment, we acknowledge it. If the opposite happened, we still acknowledge it. Eat with gratitude.
Eat just enough to sustain the body. Do not overeat.
Try not to waste food.
There is a practice of saving a morsel of food to offer to beings of lower realm of existence. This is compassion practice. In a Zen monastery, we would save a grain of rice and put it out in the garden for stray animals or insects.
If health permits, it is good to practice Buddhist 8 precept fasting occasionally. Basically, we abstain from solid food after noon. I used this method to loose weights! Plus you can acquire some merits along the way 🙂
Wishing you Happy Meal !