One meal a day during Uposatha observance/retreats?

Greetings to the members of the Sangha, to lay disciples and to others,

As I’ve been observing Uposatha for a few times now, I wished to know more about the 6th precept.
I tend to eat only one meal and that before noon, yet I may have read in several places that one may eat more than once in the right time (before noon). It seems though that a pāli terms makes me question this as “ekabhattiko” has for definition : " 1. eating only one meal a day; eating only before noon".
Furthermore, in the Bhaddālisuttaṃ it seems the Buddha instructed to bhikkhus to only eating in a single session.
Thus I’d be inclined to know more and would be grateful to be instructed on the proper way on how to envisage the partaking of food on the Uposatha days and during retreats/stays at monasteries.
With mettā.


It’s up to you. The wordings in the suttas have eat once a day, but the Buddha allowed monks to save up the food from their alms round (for that day) and split it into many meals during that right time to eat.

Most place provide breakfast and lunch as it’s closer to 3 meals a day and easier to adjust for those not used to no dinner.

Some places really just have that one offerings of meals per day in the morning, so the monks can choose to split it to two meals or eat at one go. Some monasteries have it during lunch time, so the breakfast is more of an optional thing if monastics wishes to eat, they can enjoy the optional (smaller) breakfast prepared by the novice or lay yogis.

So really, it depends.


Thank you for your answer bhante :pray:

Bhante, would it be possible to have a reference in the suttas or Vinaya on the fact that the Buddha allowed monks to save up the food from their alms round and split it into many meals during the right time to eat please ?
I would appreciate it, thank you for reading me bhante.

Bhadalli Sutta (MN.65.) recommend once a day for 1 meal or split into twice a day for 1/2 meal. Do not go over daily RDA.


Thank you for your answer HSS! I was wondering if there was another sutta explicitly establishing the principle of splitting the meal.
May I ask what RDA stands for ?

@Wheatfield to what I know The Buddha only talks in 3 suttas ie

  1. MN.65 Bhadali Sutta about once a day meal or splitting 1 meal into 2

  2. MN.66 Latukikopama Sutta about wrong time for meal

  3. MN.70 Kitagiri Sutta about about wrong time for meal

RDA means Recommended Daily Allowance in medical … it correlate with Bhadali Sutta, just one meal is enough, if you want to eat twice just split the meal in two but do not exceed the RDA …

skipping dinner doesn’t mean that we eat a lot, instead we always remember our RDA



So, there indeed seems to be a substantial difference between in one hand having one meal of a certain quantity or dividing it into two smaller ones (wherein the food quantity remains the same either way), and in another hand having two distinctly served meals (wherein the quantity of food could be thus quite larger), if I understand correctly.

Thank you for providing such information HSS, it is helpful!

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On how much to eat, I think this is something one has to experiment and find out for oneself.

Of course, don’t eat until one spoil’s one’s stomach (bursting with overeating and cannot walk after the meal).

Other than that, it depends heavily on the daily energy usage of the person. Do they exercise? Have natural high metabolism etc? It’s good in the long run to eat the same rate of energy we are burning everyday. One way to keep track of this is to monitor one’s weight. Consistent weight loss over a very long time or consistent weight gain are not healthy.

That said, do allow for a period of a few months or even years for the weight to stabilise, as the weight normally goes down if one reduces the no. of meals one normally has.


Perhaps of some relevance is MN113, which lists some ascetic practices that it seems some monastics chose to take on, e.g. rag robe wearing. One of the practices listed is that of being a “one-session eater” (Bhikkhu Bodhi translation) or one “who eats in one sitting per day” (Bhante Sujato translation). This would tend to indicate a single meal as being an optional additional practice.


Bhante, regarding the food quantity, in your experience is there an absolute or “universal” limit to how much one can eat during the right time? Or is one allowed to eat however much one’s body needs?

I ask because sometimes, during Uposatha, even two meals during the day are not enough for me, and I feel somewhat weak and uncomfortable later. But the only way to counteract this I have found is by eating so much that my stomach is bursting at midday (which is obviously also not conducive to calm).


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