Even the Dalai Lama eats meat. Mental health, body and nutrition.
Having followed the different appearances of the Dalai Lama in media, having observed his behavior, very cheerful and balanced demeanor, the way he expresses himself, his energy levels and vitality, I’ve wondered this morning, “I bet the Dalai Lama eats meat or some animal products. I don’t think he’s into supplements much, and I know all too well from experience that very restrictive diets don’t tend to keep people vital, healthy and happy, not long-term anyhow.”
Here’s what I’ve found.
“During his early years in Tibet, the Dalai Lama would have eaten meat as part of his diet because of the country’s reliance on consumable livestock in lieu of sufficient vegetable crops. When he fled to India in 1959, he adopted a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet in accordance with the beliefs of many of the country’s own Buddhists. Unfortunately, after 20 months, he contracted hepatitis and developed gall bladder disease, and his doctors insisted he resume eating meat for health reasons.”
Yep, even the Dalai Lama eats meat and listens to his doctor when he’s told to include meat in his diet for health reasons.
All of us, especially the Dalai Lama probably, live not to stick with some diet, we live to experience life on a deeper level and contribute to something bigger than ourselves. And if your diet has the potential to compromise your mental and physical well-being, well, you change your diet, or keep being stupid and hope for some miracles, promised by your favorite diet guru.
I spent about 4 years of my life being “all-natural” and vegan (even raw vegan for quite some time), and that caused a lot of health and mental issues that translated into relationship and self-image issues and no progress in my business. (You don’t think your diet has an effect on your business and career? Think many many times more and read my previous blogs on brain nutrition!)
Why was the Dalai Lama told to eat meat? Most probably because it’s a source of nutrients that other foods in his diet weren’t providing, and meat was the way to fix that fit Dalai Lama’s priorities and values. The Dalai Lama wants to bring more peace and balance in the world, and I doubt he’d be any good for that, if sick and mentally disturbed — pick your priorities!
And that’s why I’m so passionate about nutrition — it’s one of the most powerful tools to change our life through changes in our mental states, happy or under “dark clouds”, to change our cognitive capacities — focused and producing meaningful work, or with the attention span of a goldfish, not able to prioritize between social media and WhatsApp messages, and a project that when given long-bouts of attention can make you into one of a kind creator, whose work makes a difference and remembered by future generations.
Many people in today’s world still believe that what they put on their plate doesn’t change their life all that much, and yet that’s a complete BS, and the only reason this disconnect exists — it’s hard to imagine what could be if we consistently made different food choices.
Feeling low on motivation?
Feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed often?
Struggling with attention and focus?
Not sleeping well?
Energy is a roller-coaster?
Not feeling innovative and creative?
Not feeling confident?
Not feeling like you belong, like people care?
Not feeling sexy?
All of it has to do with nutrition, which has a major effect on where your life ends up, and going vegan or keto won’t cut it, because the human body and mind have very specific nutrient requirements that are best provided in a specific (even though flexible) way. You can’t guess your way to happiness but you pretty much can eat your way there.
CORTISOL FOR BREAKFAST
Let’s take a very specific example to illustrate the point.
Cortisol, is one of the major stress molecules in the brain and body, affecting all major systems of physical and mental health, from blood sugar, thyroid health, and blood pressure, to anxieties and depression. Cortisol is meant to summon all resources of our body and brain to deal with potential danger, but if kept elevated by our lifestyle and diet choices it wreaks total havoc on our body and mind.
One of the easiest ways to keep cortisol elevated?
Consume refined carbs in the form of added sugars and white flour that spike your blood sugar, combine that with a horse dose of caffeine from Starbucks Venti, and you are pretty much guaranteed to experience anxiety and stress for the duration of the whole day!
You’ll probably also have trouble falling asleep, develop untrusting relationships with your coworkers and the world, and your innovation and creative capacities will plummet, switching you into never-ending survival mode.
Still don’t think it’s time to reconsider your breakfast toast, orange juice, breakfast cereal, and coffee combo?
Try having some sweet potato, some sardines, and eggs, or maybe whole grain, salmon and avocado toast for breakfast with tea (teas, especially green, have a cortisol lowering effect, caffeine in coffee tends to elevate it), or with just one espresso shot — see what happens. I bet your morning will have a much more relaxed, focused and productive vibe to it, and you won’t want that mid-morning pick-me-up all that much.
Our days are defined by moments, and our moments are defined but what we put on our plates. (Not only, but it’s a very powerful contributor).
I envision the day when all of us, not just the Dalai Lama, will use food as a tool to enhance our life experience and our mission, not as a way to satisfy cravings and drug ourselves into moments of pleasure, that bite by bite steal our meaningful life away.
As a brain coach, with expertise in health and nutrition coaching, I always combine cognitive, and behavior protocols with nutrition because we can’t separate our brain, our body, and the emerging from this interaction, mind. We can’t separate what we put on our plates and how we feel, what we do every day — and that changes the course of our lives.
PS I’m against all restrictive diets that aren’t focused first and foremost on providing all essential nutrients that our thriving body, brain, and mind need. Having tried long-term almost all diets out there from vegan to carnivore, I observed that whole food, a balanced omnivore is the best way to eat, that people would always practice, when not being indoctrinated by diet fans and gurus who have more to sell that to contribute.