Book reviews Innovation

To lose weight, local author has new advice: Eat like the Buddha

Should you eat that cupcake?

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight (and who hasn’t?), you know that there’s no shortage of ideas — bookstore shelves groan with diet books, and the Internet is lousy with skinny yoga teachers telling you to eat kale or putting chia seeds in your coffee.

To lose weight, it’ all about when you eat…

But according to a new book called Buddha’s Diet by local authors Tara Cotrell Wright and Dan Zigmond, the key to losing weight is actually really simple: eat like the Buddha. And that means when you eat is much more important than what you eat.

Buddha's Diet is simple...it's all about when you eat

Buddha’s Diet is simple…it’s all about when you eat

Keeping food to 12, 10 or 9 hours a day?

The premise of Buddha’s Diet is that the secret to healthy weight is to restrict eating to a certain number of hours a day, starting with 12 hours and working downwards to nine.

That sounds easy, right? But when you think about the stretch from the first moment you start consuming food in the morning (coffee with milk at 7am?) to when you have your last snack before bed (ice cream during TV at 9?), even 10 hours can sound like a lifestyle change.

Sometimes called intermittent fasting, this approach is tied not just to how the Buddha lived, but also to a study done by the Salk Institute about the positive impacts on mice whose food was restricted for part of the day.

Dropping lbs without deprivation? Sign us up

“What appealed to me was the mindfulness aspect and the scientific evidence that it works,” explained Tara Cotrell Wright, a Palo Alto resident who has three kids and a full time job at the Stanford School of Business.

Tara Cotrell Wright, Palo Alto resident and busy parent, is the co-author of Buddha's Diet

Tara Cotrell Wright, Palo Alto resident and co-author of Buddha’s Diet

“With my schedule, I could never follow special eating plans like paleo or juice fasts. But with the Buddha’s diet, I just have to pay attention to when I eat. And there’s no deprivation.”

Combining Buddhism with science to lose weight

The book’s co-author Dan Zigmond is the director of analytics at Facebook and a practicing Buddhist who was drawn to the data about the health benefits of restricted eating. After Dan lost 20 pounds in a year, he convinced Tara to try the diet too. Soon the idea for a book was born.

“We had interest from a publisher very quickly,” Tara recalls. “So then we worked on shared Google docs to write the text, collaborating throughout the process. Having a deadline was helpful for getting the book done quickly and on time.”

More than just weight loss

While she hopes that people who read the Buddha’s Diet will lose weight, Tara is passionate that the benefits go beyond the waistline. “I used to snack all the time- in the car, standing over the sink, while watching TV,” she said. “Now that I turn off my mental switch at a certain hour, I have better awareness not just of what I’m eating, but of myself.”

Where to buy the book
Did the Buddha have to weight himself every day?

Did the Buddha weigh himself every day? Maybe not, but you should, according to the Buddha’s Diet.

Buddha’s Diet is available at Book’s Inc. in Palo Alto, Kepler’s in Menlo Park and on Amazon.

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About the author

Victoria Thorp

Victoria Thorp

Victoria is the founder and editor of Palo Alto Pulse and has lived in Palo Alto since 2007. Victoria's diverse professional background includes working as the editor of GreatSchools.org , as a senior writer for KIPP and Teach for America, and as a radio producer for City Visions on KALW (91.7FM San Francisco). She is a graduate of Leadership Palo Alto and a member of the Palo Alto Partners in Education Advisory Board.

She has a BA in English from Tufts University and Masters in Education and Secondary Teaching Credential in English from UCLA.