Newsletter No. 549/550

09 # 5 4 9 / 5 5 0 | 0 4 . 0 1 . 2 0 2 0 benefits—I never sneak around my kitchen late at night to quell cravings and I can sleep in without worrying about eating before work. Intermittent fasting, for myself, has been a valuable practice in mindfulness. It teaches self-discipline, short-term sacrifice for long-term benefits, and gratitude. I’ve learned to only eat until satiated, rather than gorging myself in a fit of boredom, or only because the television is on. I appreciate my meals and avoid eating for the sake of eating—something that plagues us more often than we may admit. A shorter, 12-hour fast is a viable starting point to ease into intermittent fasting before increasing to a 14- or 16-hour fast. It can help to try one or two days per week at first to determine efficacy and personal fit. Like all new habits, intermittent fasting should be implemented gradually, with prudence, and in concert with your lifestyle. This shouldn’t take on the role of tyrant—find a balance and personalize the parameters to your schedule. Don’t slow your progress—go fast . Phil Rosen Science backs the Buddha and Jesus. In 2018, an article published in Cell Metabolism found evidence of improved insulin levels, blood pressure, and weight-loss for a group of subjects participating in time-restricted eating. A paper in PubMed posited that this method can reduce inflammation and slow cell aging (cellular senescence). Both studies changed little about what was consumed—the focal variable was when . The word ‘fasting’ inspires fear in many, and any notion of dieting usually sends crowds to the exits. But intermittent fasting is more lifestyle-friendly than you may presume. The most popular method, 16/8, includes a 16-hour fast and eight-hour eating window. For example, if you stop eating at 8:30 pm you would have lunch at the very regular hour of 12:30 pm the following afternoon. Simply put, this entails skipping breakfast and eliminating late-night snacking. I have been intermittent fasting for some years now, since my days in university. As a student, it helped streamline my fitness, mental clarity, and productivity—pillars of success for the university lifestyle. I would go about my morning lectures and assignments without giving a thought to food. It fitted into my lifestyle and simplified my routine. I didn’t have to focus on chopping, boiling, microwaving, or scrambling anything for the first half of my day, resulting in more energy for my studies. My roomates adopted the lifestyle too. Together, we happily avoided the breakfast rush in the school cafeteria and instead had more time to prepare for classes (or more time to recover from the antics of the previous night). Fasting has remained a convenience during my time as a CUHK staff member: I still hold the luxury of avoiding the morning breakfast rush, and even my sleep schedule I have not eaten in over 17 hours. My stomach isn’t growling; I am not hungry. I only hear the clacking of my keyboard. Words fall from my fingertips quickly and with precision. I feel alert and focused. My colleagues invited me to lunch though I declined, instead opting to continue drinking the coffee beside me—ink-black, devoid of milk and sugar—to keep my caloric intake at zero. Each day, I have my first calories at 2:00 pm and my last calories just before 8:00 pm, giving me a six-hour eating window. Besides coffee and tea, I abstain from food and drink for 18 hours per day. And no—I am not doing this to punish myself. This is intermittent fasting, or time-restricted eating. Calling this a ‘diet’ is a misnomer. I’m far too fond of chocolate chip cookies to adhere to a diet. Intermittent fasting is less about what you eat and more about when you eat. You eat as you normally would, but within certain time parameters. Advocacy for intermittent fasting from high-profile celebrities like Beyoncé , Hugh Jackman and others have helped intermittent fasting gain traction. Forbes included it on their list of 2018’s trendiest health choices. Notwithstanding star- studded practitioners, intermittent fasting is merely being popularized, not discovered. It isn’t a new idea. This habit has been a mainstay in various religious practices since the dawn of civilization. In Buddhism, certain practices required monks to fast after lunch until the following morning and, similarly, abstaining from food during ‘daylight hours’ is noted in the Old Testament. 不時不食 Fast Thoughts on Diet p 居廉與弟子在十香園合影 p 居廉( 1828–1904 )《花卉草蟲冊》之八, 1893 p 曾孝濂( 1939– )《牡丹》, 2017 定不準確。至於花,葉靈 鳳說的「丁香」應是石竹 科的康乃馨( Dianthus caryophyllus L.)或其近 親變種。它和牡丹一樣, 是透過人工培植形成比 較具觀賞價值的、層層疊 疊的重瓣,而且都是單獨 生在枝頭頂端的。兩者的 花分別主要在兩方面: 一是牡丹的花較大,可達 十七厘米,而康乃馨的花及花瓣通常都不達十厘米;二是康 乃馨具管狀的花萼而牡丹的花萼是片狀分離的。因為角度和 構圖的關係,這兩點在居廉畫上不算表現得很清晰,但花型 基本上也沒有錯誤。畫中的枝幹是木質及較直立的,這點也 是準確的,牡丹是木本植物,和莖部草質的草本植物不同。 與標本館收藏的著名植物科學畫家 曾孝濂 教授所繪牡丹比 較,曾教授的作品連雄蕊也悉數畫出,是深具科學性的藝術 作品,但居廉的畫從互生複葉到單生枝端的重瓣花也有相應 呈現,以旨在追求情趣的國畫來說其實也相當準確。這得歸 功於居派繪畫提倡「宋人骨法元人韻」,即融會宋畫院細緻 寫實的風格與元人畫重神韻意趣的表達方式。居廉與堂兄居 巢修築的十香園極注重花木的栽種,正是方便其深入觀察自 然以寫生。就不知居廉與弟子在十香園合影的歷史照片中, 讓眾人甘於成為背景板的盆栽會否就是這南方稀客牡丹花? Heidi Wong 葉靈鳳曾寫過一篇叫〈牡丹花在香港〉的小文章,說到從前過 農曆年時,廣州花販為了適應西關富戶和十八甫大商家的過 年要求,會把從北方來的牡丹放在密室內用火烘催開。據說 後來香港年宵花市為數不多卻萬眾期待的牡丹盆栽也用此 法,因此也有同樣問題:象徵富貴的牡丹枝幹光禿,生不出 綠葉扶持,營養不良,貌不驚人,但價錢倒是相當驚人。 價貴,源於物稀。原來這國色天香的富貴嬌客怕熱,怕烈 日直射,需要地勢高燥、排水良好的中性沙壤土,故難以在 嶺南潮濕的氣候健康生長。葉靈鳳甚至覺得因為廣東不產 牡丹,廣東畫家也畫不好牡丹,畫出來「葉子像菊,花像丁香 (即上海人所謂康乃馨),而且是草本的」。 到底牡丹和菊的葉子、丁香與牡丹的花有何不同?牡丹為甚 麼不是草本植物?廣東畫家又是否真的畫不好牡丹呢?正好 文物館最近出版的圖錄《北山汲古:中國繪畫》中就有一開 清末廣東畫家居廉畫的牡丹,我們趁機訪問了中大胡秀英植 物標本館館長 劉大偉 博士,展開了一場「跨界藝談」。 劉博士表示牡丹( Paeonia suffruticos a Andrews)和菊花 ( Dendranthema morifolium (Ramat.)Tzvel.)的葉子都 不是兩兩相對的,而是「互生」,即在葉柄上交錯着生,所 以確有共通,而且某些品種的菊葉也像牡丹葉一樣,是由多 片小葉相連成一組組的複葉,要辨別得觀察毛被、葉脈、氣 味等,畫面上未必能呈現,所以很難說像菊葉的牡丹葉就一 花開富貴 Peonies in Bloom 康 健 型 格 / H ealth M atters 雅 共 賞 / ART iculation