Food is life, wrote Mahatma Gandhi, who himself undertook a total of 17 fasts during the freedom struggle — in his book Key to Health. “Whilst it is true that man cannot live without air and water, the thing that nourishes the body is food. Hence the saying, food is life”.
“I take generally: 8 tolas of germinating wheat, 8 tolas of sweet almonds reduced to a paste, 8 tolas of green leaves pounded, 6 sour lemons, and 2 ounces of honey. The food is divided into two parts, the first meal is taken at 11 a.m. the second at 6.15 p.m. The only thing touched by fire is water. I take in the morning and once more during the day boiling water, lemon and honey.” Gandhi wrote in his book, according to an article by The Indian Express.
At a time when we are constantly being advised to cut down on the intake of salty food, Gandhiji was always a staunch opposer to add additional salt to meals. Various accounts say Gandhiji started a salt-free diet in 1911. But he relaxed over time as advised by doctors. By the late 1920s, he accepted a little salt, but no more than 30 grains per day.
No milk for six years
Gandhiji took up various experiments with his diet. In his book The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism, he wrote, “I excluded milk from my diet for six years. … But in the year 1917, as a result of my own ignorance, I was laid down with severe dysentery. I was reduced to a skeleton, but I stubbornly refused to take milk or buttermilk. … I could have had in mind only the milk of the cow and buffalo; why should the vow prevent me from taking goat’s milk?” A vegetarian diet must include mil and milk products, he wrote after pursuing his lactose-free experiment. A word of wisdom for today’s weight-watchers who stay away from milk products.
Raw and unprocessed food
As evident from his daily diet, he mostly steered clear of cooked and processed food — a precursor to today’s Paleo diet?
No Sugar, Please!
By sugar, we mean refined sugar. It is said that he loved fruits and mango was his favourite. But he stayed away from refined sugar. “Mango is a cursed fruit,” Gandhi wrote in 1941. “It attracts attention as no other fruit does. We must get used to not treating it with so much affection … but they [the patients] will all get some as we have three boxes.”