Home Book Review Buddha’s Diet #BookReview

Buddha’s Diet #BookReview

by Vidya Sury April 3, 2017 53 comments
Buddhas Diet Book Review Vidya Sury

The mention of Buddha generally brings a peaceful feeling…for most people, anyway. Combine that with the word diet–something most of us love to hate and stress over, and it seems like a winning combo. To me, at least.

But to mention Buddha and Diet in the same breath?

Truth is, the original Buddha was thin, not the chubby, mostly topless dude we see. That chubby version was a mythical hero who roamed the Chinese countryside. The real Buddha started his life as a pampered prince who decided to set out and learn what life was all about. Looks like his parents named him aptly: Siddhartha, which means, the one who achieves his goals.

He certainly did, but only after rebelling and running away from his rather helicopter parents who tried to shield him from the ugh parts of life.  Siddhartha had a mind of his own and just knew that there was more to life than constant happiness. But well, let me tell you that I really don’t approve of the way he snuck out on his wife and son…but that’s irrelevant here, and I doubt he cares what I think.


Anyway, I thought the book “Buddha’s Diet by Tara Cottrell and Dan Zigmond would make for an interesting “B” post.

I had more than ten book titles beginning with B, and wasted hours trying to decide. I almost decided on Bullying for Beginners, but Buddha’s diet simply won over when I sat on the fence weighing which one to show off.  Of course there’s Breakfast with Buddha, too…but that’s a review for another day. Promise.

So. B is for a Book review and my choice for you today is…

Buddha’s Diet

The ancient art of losing weight without losing your mind.

by Tara Cottrell and Dan Zigmond

Buddhas Diet Book Review Vidya Sury

Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Running Press; 1 edition (6 September 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0762460466
ISBN-13: 978-0762460465
Health and Wellness

I found it a most enjoyable read, for the presentation, conversational writing style, humor, and the interesting facts covered.

But first, the book blurb: 

There’s a lot you probably don’t know about the Buddha. For one, the real Buddha was thin. And before he became the “Enlightened One,” he was a pampered prince named Siddhartha. He tried starving himself in his quest for inner peace, but found that extremes brought him no closer to enlightenment. Instead, he sought a “middle way” between unhealthy overindulgence and unrealistic abstinence. The instructions he gave his monks about eating, more than 2,500 years ago, were surprisingly simple.

Fast forward to today. Cutting edge scientific research tells us something Buddha knew all along. It’s not what you eat, but when you eat that’s most important. You don’t need to follow the latest fads or give up your favorite foods. You just need to remember a few guidelines that Buddha provided—guidelines that, believe it or not, will help you lose weight, feel better, and stop obsessing about food.

Sure, Buddha lived before the age of cronuts, but his wisdom and teachings endure, providing us with a sane, mindful approach to eating. With chapters that ponder questions like “What would Buddha drink?” and “Did Buddha do Crossfit?” Buddha’s Diet offers both an attainable and sustainable strategy for achieving weight-loss nirvana.

The Buddha's Diet Book Review

My book review

The book encourages you to look at food in a whole new way, because hey, when you eat is as important as, if not more than what you eat. It is a blueprint with all the tools, the scientific research, the mindset changes and the steps to implementing these lifestyle changes, and how to fit it into your life and schedule.

The book covers the following:

  • Research and data — Buddha was big on data and wanted proof all the time!
  • Why we get fat
  • Why we should follow a mouse’s eating style (really!)
  • What the Buddha’s diet involves
  • What to eat
  • Should you go veg?
  • About drinking and cheating on the diet
  • Whether Buddha did Crossfit and his resting style
  • Things that come in the way:  food, of course and mindless and how to practice mindful eating
  • How to make the diet work at home and at work?
  • Keeping your balance
  • Why say grace
  • Meditation
  • Living like the Buddha. Or not.
  • What’s next.

If you, like me, want to skip to the actual Buddha’s diet, here it is.

Buddha’s diet step-by-step

It all begins with taking stock, understanding your “eating clock”–your current eating style–from the first thing you put in your mouth when you wake up to the last thing you eat/drink before you sleep. Everything counts. Keep a food log for three days recording the time of eating, what you eat, with whom you eat, and how you feel. Nice eh? Being honest minus the guilt helps in all these areas: weight loss, feeling better, aiming to eat more mindfully or healthfully. If you already feel good, but want to sleep better and feel more energetic, that is a good goal, too.

The diet itself comprises of four steps:

  1. Step 1: The 12-hour window, where you confine your eating to 12 hours a day–all your eating/drinking must be within these 12 hours
  2. Step 2: The 11-hour window, where you restrict any eating drinking into these 11 hours. So if your eating was from 7 am to 7 pm, shrink it to 7 am to 6 pm or 8 am to 7 pm.
  3. Step 3: The 10-hour window, where–you guessed it–cut down your eating/drinking into the10 hour slot of your choice. Yes, it is a challenge, but you can do it! And guess what? You are probably noticing some weight loss at this point.
  4. Step 4: The 9-hour window. Don’t hate me, but this really is possible and not so hard to do. And by the time you accomplish the 9-hour window, you are on the Buddha’s diet.

Nothing far-fetched about this…our ancestors pretty much followed this approach. My Grandmother started her day with coffee at 6 am had her last meal of the day at 6 pm. And she lived to be a healthy 86.

How do these steps help?

They change your eating habits forever. FOREVER.

Strangely, you won’t feel so hungry. Of course, what you eat definitely matters.

You will sleep better.

You’ll not be so inclined to snack mindlessly…so no eating because you are bored or stressed.

You experience welcome mental changes along with the physical changes and find yourself more disciplined and mindful about what and when you eat.

You feel very Zen, which is very cool!

You may also want to try and add a Step 5, which is the 8 hour window–your choice entirely!

So what do you need to get started with the Buddha diet?


Nothing that you don’t already have, that is.

This includes having faith and making mindset changes.

A weighing scale helps, if that motivates you. But not if you weight yourself every few hours.

But if you are wondering what the Buddha have to do with all this…

Yes, the Buddha dieted. And he he he, it didn’t work for him any more than it does for you or me. Not because he was keen on getting into that swimsuit he coveted or to impress that special someone, but because he wanted to conquer his body. He probably also tried to lay on a bed of nails, and contorted his body into weird shapes, held his breath and fasted like crazy.

Of course, none of it worked, and he decided to be kinder to himself. He realized that food is his friend. After much pondering, he came up with a bunch of guidelines to help you and me lose weight and live healthy.  He also recommended intermittent fasting, where you give your body a break from eating/drinking for a specific time. That’s where the 9-hour window comes in! See?

It doesn’t mean you can’t eat out. You can have cheat days. There! You have the Buddha’s permission! You’ll probably find your family/friends buddying up with you in this new lifestyle. That’s a win-win, no?

About what to eat, it would be weird if you thought you could snack on chips during the entire 9-hour window. Eww. So, use common sense and stick to healthy eating as much as possible. Make sensible choices.

If you are already feeling great and don’t need to lose weight, I envy you you will still benefit. Ask anyone who’s trying to keep the weight off.

The magic of this diet is, it will gradually cure you of evening-time snacking and mindless eating.

If weight loss is your personal Holy Grail, this book offers great logical advice.

If you’re tired of diet advice, this book offers some valuable weight loss tips that are easy to follow without making you feel like a martyr who sacrificed her favorite foods. If that is not for you, consider Keto diet guides, recipes and tips.

If you’re tired of trying all the usual restrictive diets, if you can’t figure out why you just can’t lose the weight and keep it off, if you have a complicated relationship with food, this new approach to wellness is worth exploration. Buddha’s Diet takes Buddha’s teachings about food, mindfulness and well-being and examines them through the modern lens of scientific discovery. The result is a diet and new pattern of eating that cuts through all the noise of traditional dieting.

Yep, weight loss nirvana is within sight. And easier than you thought.

Buy Buddha’s Diet on Amazon. (affiliate link)

About the authors

TARA COTTRELL is a writer, digital strategist, and mom. She consults and writes for lifestyle and wellness brands in Silicon Valley and is a well-being advocate for at-risk and foster youth. She is currently the web content manager at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. When she’s not working, writing, or parenting, she’s shoe shopping. She lives in Menlo Park, CA.

DAN ZIGMOND is a writer, data scientist, and Zen priest. He advises startups and venture capital firms about data and health. He is a contributing editor at Tricycle, the largest Buddhist magazine in North America, and teaches at Jikoji Zen Center, a small Buddhist temple in the Santa Cruz mountains. In May 2015, he was named one of “20 Business Geniuses You Need to Know” by Wired Magazine, as he frequently reminds his kids. He lives in Menlo Park, too.

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Debbie L Hampton April 3, 2017 at 1:10 am

I like the idea of confining your eating to windows of time. I kind of do this naturally. The benefits of going without food for 12 or more hours is well documented. Is the goal to stay at the nine-hour window once reached?

rads April 3, 2017 at 6:23 pm

I suppose. But I’ve known folks who Intermittent fast and shuttle between the zones. It’s about keeping things light and eating a few hours before bedtime. 🙂

Tina Basu April 3, 2017 at 1:10 am

This is perfect for B Vidya and the book sounds great.
Tina Basu recently posted…Banana Chocolate Bites – No bake Quick Easy Dessert Recipe

Vinay Leo R. April 3, 2017 at 1:41 am

I am considering changing my eating habits, but have been feeling I need an extra push. Maybe this book might be it. Let me see if I can procure a copy! 😀
Vinay Leo R. recently posted…#AtoZChallenge 2017 – B is for Beauty Lies in the Eyes of the Beholder

Sheethal April 3, 2017 at 2:05 am

That 4 step looks interesting. Someone who’s trying to lose some pounds, I think this book will definitely help. Nicelt done review. thanks for sharing about the book. Hugs. 🙂

Sandra Pawula April 3, 2017 at 2:55 am

Hello Dear Vidya,

Intermittent fasting is a hot trend at the moment, there’s no doubt about that. I tried it for four months and it did have some beneficial effects, like losing weight, but in the end it was too taxing on my adrenals. I’m sure it can be good approach for people who are stronger than me.

The Buddha offered these guidelines for his monastics, but he didn’t necessarily prescribe them for lay people to my knowledge. I’m finding that part of the author’s presentation a bit of a stretch. 🙂

That’s an interesting point about leaving his family, Vidya. I’ve read that the times were very different then so they had the support of extended family, and eventually, I believe, became the students of the Buddha. But I totally get your point!

Vidya Sury April 3, 2017 at 11:00 am

Hi Sandra! Yes, I’ve seen intermittent fasting doing the rounds too… but have also seen the elders in our family fast at least seven days a month in various forms — salt free, only liquid, no cooked food, only water, and so on. They were so healthy and disease free. I understand that if there are underlying health issues one must not dive into a lifestyle change without carefully considering the repercussions. I am diabetic.

True that the Buddha’s guidelines were meant for his disciples, but apparently there is a big body of research to find out why they’re so serene and in control of their mind and bodies. The book offers guidelines that seem easy enough to do, and is more focused on how one should adopt a healthy lifestyle. It doesn’t go on about “don’t do this, do that”. It is more about “try this” I practice it partially and feel much better.

Oh–the Buddha leaving his family has always been a sore point with me, Sandra. Apparently he just snuck out one night when everyone was sleeping and disappeared. His family was so upset when they discovered that he was missing in the morning. He just sought his own path to self-discovery. Family was not involved. Sigh. Lots of stories there, of course.

Thank you for your comment. I appreciate you! I loved your post… read it on the phone and I am off to comment.
Vidya Sury recently posted…She Builds Our Nation #Inspiring Women

Shilpa Garg April 3, 2017 at 5:29 am

Oh, I loved your review, Vidya. It is so interesting and fun. 🙂
I have practiced the Buddha Diet till Step 2 – The 11 hour window when I did the Vipassana Course. I ate between 6.30 am and 5 pm for 10 days during the course and a few days after, at home. And it worked well for me. I didnt feel hungry at all (I was apprehensive initially that I’d get hunger pangs by late evening) and I lost weight too.
Your review has inspired me and I am going to get my hands on this book. I’d like to follow it too, though with my work-travel, it may get challenging.

Vidya Sury April 3, 2017 at 10:51 am

Indeed. But the book doesn’t talk about any rigid guidelines, Shilpa. Yes, it also mentions the Vipassana. Hats off to you for doing the course and following the diet. I think, based on what the book recommends, even yo-yo-ing through this four step process will definitely bring rewards! Thank you for your insights!
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Beat About the Book April 3, 2017 at 6:10 am

Oh yes yes yes. I might be the perfect person to try this diet since I’ve already tried (and given up) quite a few. A 9 hour window sounds tough though.
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Vidya Sury April 3, 2017 at 10:53 am

Not really tough, Tulika. I am doing it and find myself less inclined to snack. Night is the worst because I am still practicing sleeping earlier than I do right now. Ugh. That’s my personal challenge. You can always set yourself the 12 hour window as a goal. That’s easily do-able. Hugs!
Vidya Sury recently posted…She Builds Our Nation #Inspiring Women

roshan r April 3, 2017 at 8:43 am

“complicated relationship with food” is putting it mildly 😀
But yes, I’ve lost many a battle of the bulge so I guess this new 12-11-10-9 is worth a try. Had never heard of it before, to be frank.
roshan r recently posted…‘Bikers Against Child Abuse’ are a Shining Example of Guardian Angels #AtoZChallenge

Menaka Bharathi April 3, 2017 at 8:49 am

Such a wonderful review Vidhya. You know exactly how to make a review interesting. I know I should be trying this diet too, however my complete family is dead against me dieting. May be I should convert the whole lot.
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Ellen Bard April 3, 2017 at 9:13 am

Wow, that’s definitely an interesting take on the usual diet advice. Fun post Vidya, thanks.

kalpanaa April 3, 2017 at 9:25 am

Your review gave just enough information to leave me thirsting for more. I want that book already. It seems like a very sensible diet – much in keeping with the Buddha’s Everything in moderation philosophy.
Happy A to Z ing.

Kaddu April 3, 2017 at 9:43 am

I hadn’t heard of this “window” system, to be frank. I think this book will be of use to me. My target is to shed 27 kilos by my 40th birthday in Jan. I started mid last month, lost 2 kgs, then couldn’t sustain the momentum. I think it’s going to be even more of a challenge through this A to Z. (Sighhh.) But I will get there. Like Buddha, the idea is to “conquer my body”! (No bed of pins for me though.) :p
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Sreesha April 3, 2017 at 10:43 am

You know, as a kid, my mother used to tell me that I nibble biscuits like a rat. I’m hoping this will help me achieve my goal then? 😛
On a serious note though, I’m seriously considering some lifestyle changes and healthy eating habits. This book might just be the push I need!
While Buddha was lean, I think I prefer the chubby version – he just looks happier. Just looking at that cute belly makes me all “zen” 😀
Sreesha recently posted…Bittersweet Memories | #AtoZChallenge

Vidya Sury April 3, 2017 at 10:50 am

I know! I love the chubby guy too (I mean, look at my blog header/logo eh?) The book is not so much about dieting, as it is about making lifestyle changes that last and put one on the path to long term health. I found it a happy read and agreed with most of it, as I’ve seen the elderly in our family actually practicing the guidelines it suggests. Thank you Sreesha! Hugs!
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Sreesha April 3, 2017 at 6:19 pm

Yes, long term effects are what everyone should focus on; definitely sounds like a good read.
Hehe, your logo is exactly what I’m talking about 😀 Hugs!
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Vidya Sury April 3, 2017 at 8:50 pm

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Cathy Taughinbaugh April 3, 2017 at 11:16 am

Interesting post, Vidya. I too found the windows of time idea intriguing. It makes sense, to not eat too close to bedtime. I find it is always good to reevaluate your eating habits from time to time. I’ve been doing that lately, and I feel much better.

upasna April 3, 2017 at 11:18 am

Yes I do feel peace even saying the name “Buddha”. There is something magical. A book is good for the People who doe not have hold of their diets. Rather, food controls them. I myself believe in mindful eating and this becomes the point of debate with me and my Hubby.

Swathi Shenoy April 3, 2017 at 11:37 am

Sounds great. This is a book I definitely want!!
Diet apart, I love the way you have written this entire post 😀 you sure are collecting smiles, a lot of them 🙂
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Vaishali April 3, 2017 at 11:55 am

Anything Buddha is appealing to the eye and interesting to learn. Thank you for a lovely review. I have added this book in my reading (and mindful eating) list. Look forward to more insights from you.

Evelyn Lim April 3, 2017 at 11:59 am

This sure sounds like an interesting book! The 4 steps seem easy to accomplish! I prefer easy-to-follow ideas!

Shalini April 3, 2017 at 12:00 pm

That book is so good. You really think it is that great? I have tried all the fad diets possible. I couldn’t benefit from it at all. I think I should give this book a try.

Vidya Sury April 3, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Shalini you can see the website here–it offers greater detail. As i mentioned in another comment, it is more about hopping on to a healthy lifestyle path. 🙂 Hugs!
Vidya Sury recently posted…She Builds Our Nation #Inspiring Women

Ramya Abhinand April 3, 2017 at 1:41 pm

The book does seem to answer a whole lot of questions. A holistic approach to healthy eating and living

Vinodini April 3, 2017 at 1:58 pm

This sounds interesting, especially the time window method. Who would have thought that even Buddha was on a diet?! Loved your humorous punches throughout the review. 🙂

Soumya April 3, 2017 at 2:54 pm

Buddha was not chubby and topless? Don’t take this away from me 😛

Diets almost never work for me because I never work towards it. But maybe this one I can try.

Vidya Sury April 3, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Although, why you need to diet is beyond me, you hottie! 🙂 Hugs! I prefer the fat dude too!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Buddha’s Diet #AtoZChallenge #BookReview

shubhangi srikanth April 3, 2017 at 4:09 pm

Oh my! A mouse’s diet…is it really possible? The 4 step plan looks difficult but over a period of time I guess, it is doable. Even if we aren’t on a diet, I think it would be a guide to healthy living. The book definitely looks interesting.

Sanch @ Sanch Writes April 3, 2017 at 4:25 pm

I could do the 12 hour window but nothing else. I don’t do diets where I cut meals but I just eat smaller portions and this would fit in the 12 hour window. I do eat 5 times a day though with the small meals
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Roma Gupta Sinha April 3, 2017 at 4:39 pm

I loved the concepts enshrined in the Buddha’s diet and find them doable over a period on time. Thank you so much for sharing this. The hour windows make a lot of sense.

Wendy April 3, 2017 at 4:49 pm

Ok, well it makes perfect sense to cut out eating in the evenings and eat more during the day when I am active, but it doesn’t fit with a partner who is away from the house at work for 13 hours most days. I’d never eat a meal with him, and from that would follow that we’d never really talk about the day.
But maybe I could start by cutting out that after dinner cup of tea ….with occasional biscuit or slice of cake.

Shailaja Vishwanath April 3, 2017 at 6:16 pm

I really must try this 4 step approach to eating. I try not to mindlessly snack these days but some days are hard. Of course, if Buddha is guiding me this is doable. Hmm, maybe I need this book. But AFTER I finish everything else on my TBR 😉

Vidya Sury April 3, 2017 at 8:53 pm

Agreed it is hard with our present hectic lifestyles, Shailaja. But the book made a lot of sense. A couple of decades ago, our family finished dinner by 6.45 pm, latest. But we also went to bed early. Today, that sounds near impossible! Enjoy your TBR list!
Vidya Sury recently posted…She Builds Our Nation #Inspiring Women

My Era April 3, 2017 at 6:21 pm

I’m so glad you picked this book to review for ‘B’.
I absolutely loved your thorough review that has convinced me that I need to order this book, soon.
I have been actively working on getting my eating times in the 11-hour window, and somehow am failing to stick to the plan again and again. At this point, your book review has been godsent.
I completely agree with you that the discipline in eating is the key to a healthy existence than being fussy over what not to eat.

Vidya Sury April 3, 2017 at 8:50 pm

Thank you My Era! Yes, it can be tough to stick to that “window” but it is a good idea to skip the late night snack. Nothing new, but the book also recommends adequate sleep, something most of us tend to overlook these days. 🙂 The whole idea is to live healthy. Hugs!
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Parul Thakur April 3, 2017 at 6:27 pm

I have never heard about this book and the diet plan it introduces. Sounds like worth a try. The step 1 -2 is sure possible. I am not very clear on the 3-4. Need some food for my brain I guess 🙂
Will add the book to my TBR list, Vidya. Thank you for sharing!
Parul Thakur recently posted…B for Being you #AtoZChallenge

rads April 3, 2017 at 6:27 pm

Way detailed a review! Am wondering if I should even get the book 🙂
That said, the fact that you mention “Buddha relied on facts” has me curious. I think IF has its benefits, but as with everything else one size doesn’t fit all. While on my Keto diet (which is what am blogging on) IF becomes a normal occurrence coz one doesn’t get very hungry. It works for sure!

Vidya Sury April 3, 2017 at 8:42 pm

The book actually has research info, Rads. I agree that one size doesn’t fit all, especially with diets. There are too many variables such as body type, genetics, underlying health issues, age, gender, and a whole lot more. One thing is clear though: understanding oneself (taking stock) and choosing the healthiest option is important. That said, IF does work, if only as a detox. I am keen on the rest of your keto diet posts- must try the asparagus recipe. I am so glad you dropped by today!

I am laughing at your “should even get the book”!
Vidya Sury recently posted…She Builds Our Nation #Inspiring Women

My Inner Chick April 3, 2017 at 7:18 pm

**It all begins with taking stock, understanding your “eating clock”–your current eating style–from the first thing you put in your mouth when you wake up to the last thing you eat/drink before you sleep. Everything counts**

OMGggggosh, did Buddha invent Weight Watchers?

…because seriously, I’m doing it now. 30 Pound loss thus far!

Loved your review, Sweets.

Love you more than chocolate covered ice-cream cones! xxx

Darla M Sands April 3, 2017 at 7:20 pm

I like it! And language is funny, because the word diet is simply what we eat, not meant to describe a weight loss plan. ~grin~ Your command of language is fabulous, by the way. Be well!

Angel Stew & Devil's Brew April 3, 2017 at 11:12 pm

So much information here Vidya! I’m definitely going to try this diet. That’s first. And now I MUST read up on Buddah. I know nothing of him other than he’s the chubby guy that sits at most Chinese restaurants. 🙂 Great post. I loved it. – Letter B, down! 😀

Jemima Pett April 4, 2017 at 2:42 am

Sigh. I started not eating after 6 pm last autumn and did okay till recently when I realised how fat I was. Somehow it hadn’t worked. Actually it may have been down to some medication I was taking,. So… stop the excuses and get back to it – but add it being mindful and looking after myself.
I need a serious talk with Buddha. Maybe I’ll get the book.

Debbie D. April 4, 2017 at 10:14 am

The nine-hour window sounds a bit daunting, especially since we go out frequently, but it’s worth a try. This is a book I’d like to read further, as weight issues have plagued me for some time. No doubt spending all this time at the computer has something to do with that! Thanks for the review, Vidya.
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Birgit April 4, 2017 at 5:53 pm

I think this would be a nice compliment with the Buddha teachings and dieting but I have to eat every 2 hours due to my hypoglycaemic diet unless I try it just before going to sleep:) now, how is this related to mice??

Vidya Sury April 4, 2017 at 6:40 pm

Apparently they carried out some research experiments to study the eating habits of mice. 🙂
When you are controlling sugar levels, it can be hard. But my diabetes dietician insists that I must stop eating at 6.30 and sleep at 9 pm. Which is near impossible. I really have to conquer my late nights. Hugs Birgit.
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Suzie April 5, 2017 at 12:52 am

This is a really interesting take on intermittent fasting. I haven’t tried it myself, and I think there’s some evidence it works better for men than for women?

Great book review! Makes me want to read it 🙂

Suzie Cheel April 5, 2017 at 5:45 am

Okay time to have dinner before 7 pm I keep talking about it but not doing 🙂 The book looks interesting too. I was interested on your comment to Sandra about your family and fasting. Thanks Vidya- going to get my Libray to get this book xxx

Zeenat Merchant Syal April 9, 2017 at 3:08 pm

I’m loving the whole concept of this book Vidya! I do a level of fasting in Ramadan and feel so light and refreshed after the 30 days…I feel like I ca never get back to my normal routine…but then yeah…life kicks in and its back to eating sometimes at odd hours.
I need to get into a stricter regime for myself time wise…and then ramadan in only a month and a half away…so will buckle up from today 🙂

Ramya April 16, 2017 at 2:16 am

What a lovely post and a lot of useful information in a single post.


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