This article, "Krishna meal plan strict, slimming," was published in Chicago Tribune, March 15, 1976, in Chicago, Illinois.
By Theodore Berland
IF YOU DON'T think you can drastically change your diet, eat less, and be slim, consider the Hare Krishna.
This East Indian religious sect offers good models of both controlled eating habits and behavior modification techniques. These are the conclusions of Betty Wedman, director of public affairs of the American Dietetic Association. She studied the Evanston Hare Krishnas as a registered dietitian and as a personal matter, since her brother recently became a yogi.
First of all, the Hare Krishnas are lacto vegetarians. They eat milk and milk products as well as grains, fruits, and vegetables. They eat no flesh of any kind - neither fish, nor fowl, nor four-legged animal, nor eggs.
THEIR EATING TIMES are rigidly controlled as part of their prescribed daily practices. Yogis arise at 4 a.m. to chant the first of their seven daily devotions. After their third, at 8:30 a.m., they have their early main meal of the day. It consists of dahl, a type of split pea soup made from dahl beans, hot vegetables, and spices; unleavened whole-bread [chapitis]; rice; and hot milk. In their food preparation, yogis use ghee [clarified butter].
At breakfast; too, each yogi is given a piece of fruit - orange, apple, or banana - to be eaten as a snack anytime until the late meal of the day. That is a modest meal of hot milk and ghee. pastry or bread, and some cooked vegetable.
So to bed at 10:30 p.m., usually alone since most yogis are celibate. Those who are not perform sex only for procreation.
IN HER REPORT to a recent meeting of the local chapter of the American Medical Writers Association, Wedman said that the 60 yogis she studied have extremely well-controlled eating patterns. No food is touched before a sample is placed on the temple altar and offered for God's blessing. Yogis eat to please God, not for self-reward. This concept prevents nibbling.
There are other foods that Yogis can eat. Yogurt is a mainstay, but only in the spring. They believe yogurt builds up unwanted mucus, making them susceptible to colds in the winter.
They also eat fresh cheese, such as farmers cheese or cottage cheese. Aged cheeses are spurned. They are made by fermentation, which involves molds; and as molds are seen as small animals, they are in the forbidden-flesh category.
ALSO FORBIDDEN are coffee and tea, as well as alcoholic drinks, cigarets, and all other intoxicants.
As for behavior modification: The yogis are young Americans - the average age is 22 years - who have completely adopted an Eastqrn religion, diet, and nonmaterialistic way of life. They are essentially middle-class white. Wedman believes it is significant that most were Roman Catholics, as was her brother. She believes it means that behavior can be successfully modified by exchanging one set of rituals for another.
I'm not suggesting that you convert to Hare Krishna, or any other yoga sect, to become as svelte as they are. I am suggesting that you can learn from their example. Intelligent vegetarianism is a very good way to lose weight and keep it off; I estimate each yogi eats about 1100 calories a day.
YOU NEED a well-thought-out approach, such as the plan followed by the yogis, or ones laid out by the Seventh Day Adventists or by Frances Moore Lappe ["Diet for a Small Planet," Ballastine, $1.25].
ALSO, THE HARE Krishna, have some wonderful ways of preparing low-calorie vegetable dishes and low-calorie but high-protein vegetarian main courses. Many can be found in the excellent "Hare Krishna Cookbook" [Chilton Book Co., $1.95].
You may sample Krishna foods at the Sunday open houses beginning at 5 p.m. at the Hare Krishna Temple, 1014 Emerson St., Evanston. [Krishna temples in America are listed in the cookbook.]
Photo: Keeping slim the Hare Krishna way may be extreme to most of us but a registered dietitian has found it to be a sound and healthful approach.