Food & Drinks / Health / It's my life! / Spirituality

My 8-day meditation retreat: The Temple Detox Diet

I came back from a meditation retreat organised by the Kwan Yin Chan Lin Zen Centre about a week ago. Though there are many things I would like to write about (as I vow to practise Zen from now on), I want this to be my first post: The temple detox diet.

Most of us love food. Most of us care about our health too. But, few of us have the time to be careful in what we eat.

Yes, some of us go the extra mile to have a healthy diet. Some might go vegan. Some buy only organic food. Some stay away from instant food. But, processed food has become an integral part in our society that unknowingly, we ingest and allow chemicals and preservatives – most of them with alpha-numeric names that we don’t recognise – enter our bodies.

Thus, the abbot of the zen centre, Venerable Chi Boon, recommended a two-day detox diet regime during the retreat. He said that doing this detox once every two weeks allow the stomach to rest for a day, and allow the body to flush out the unnatural toxins out of the body.

The Temple Detox Diet

First day

Fast the entire day. No food and water at all. Stop all medications. If you truly must, you can drink a bottle of mineral water. Don’t drink boiled water.

Second day

Breakfast spread for one person, in the following order:

  1. A large bowl of hot water. Add salt (the temple used reddish/pink salt, possibly Himalayan salt) till the water tastes as salty as blood (so, it’ll be isotonic). Add juice from 1/2 of a lemon. Stir and drink the entire bowl.
  2. To get rid of the taste and to protect your teeth from the acidic lemon juice, drink a cup of coconut water.
  3. Eat fresh vegetables first: Slices of carrot, cucumber, bang-kwang/Chinese sweet turnip/yam bean/Sha Ge/jicama with pieces of corn, tomato and lettuce leaves.
  4. Eat fruits: Small slices of avocado, orange, pear, papaya, honeydew, yellow watermelon, pineapple. And, you can chew small sticks of sugar cane too.
  5. End the meal with fruit yoghurt. I think the temple made their own yoghurt by mixing chunks of dragon fruit, papaya, pear, and honeydew with plain yoghurt.
  6. If you have sensitive teeth, end it with another cup of coconut water.

Within 30 minutes, your stomach will rumble. That’s the signal for you to head to the toilet. Let it all go.

After the unpleasant cleansing session, you can reward yourself with barley dessert. It also serves to stabilise the stomach.

  1. You can cook barley with oat cereal, black flax seeds or sesame seeds
  2. Or, you can cook barley with mung beans/green beans. Just so you know, the natural sweetness of barley is enough to make this barley-green bean soup delicious. Adding sugar is optional.

Though fasting for an entire day sounds intimidating, it was very doable, even if you are having your period.

When the monk told the group about the one-day fasting diet, my mind quickly conjured up worst-case scenarios trying to persuade me not to do it: “Chrissy, you might get gastric problems. Or, worse, you might faint. Can you really last a day of not eating. You love food.”

But, nah, none of those things happened. In fact, counter-intuitively, I was more focused that day. Meditation was easier.

According to the abbot, the temple detox diet is safe and can be done once every two weeks. He added with a smile, “We won’t die without food and water for a day.”

Sure enough, 23 of us who tried the diet survived to live another day… of meditation.


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