General Guidelines About Diet and Daily Eating Habits According To Ayurveda

By Andreas Moritz

Since most doctors only know how to treat the effects of illness and not its causes, you may need to take your health into you own hands. Foods have an almost immediate effect on the body. In fact, it is known that the body’s biochemistry changes within several minutes of eating a meal.

If you eat something that is outright harmful to you, your stomach will signal indigestion. Some foods can be even more damaging than just causing heartburn. Research has shown that eating meat in the evening can trigger a heart attack in the morning.

Here are the common guidelines about a healthy diet and eating habits according to the principles of Ayurveda:

    • A half teaspoon of grated ginger taken with a pinch of salt is an excellent appetizer and kindles AGNI, the digestive fire. Splashing cool water over your face, neck, and hands before meals also stimulates AGNI.

    • Eat in a settled environment and quiet atmosphere, with a settled mind. Your company and environment should be pleasant. Do not work, listen to music, read or watch TV during meals.

    • Always sit down to eat. Eat at roughly the same times each day.

    • Eat neither too quickly nor too slowly (about 20 minutes) and without interruption.

    • Eat to about ¾ of your stomach capacity at your biggest meal; this equals the amount of your two cupped hands full. Ideally, one third of the meal should consist of liquid food of a soupy consistency. 

    • Avoid eating a meal or snack before the previous meal has been digested, unless it is a piece of fruit. Allow approximately 3 to 6 hours between meals, depending upon the types of food consumed.

    • If you desire to drink anything with your meals, it is best to sip a little hot or warm water. Also avoid drinking large quantities of liquids right before and within the first 2 hours after meals.

    • Drinking excessive amounts of water (3-4 liters a day) may produce obesity, kidney disorders and mineral/vitamin deficiencies, whereas drinking too little water causes dehydration. To meet the minimum requirements for water, drink 6-8 glasses of water (at room temperature or warm) each day. You may need to increase the amount during hot, dry weather, when exercising or during stressful times in your life. If the color of your urine is dark yellow, drink more water; if colorless, drink less.

    • Consuming cold foods, such as ice cream, and drinking iced beverages may reduce your resistance to disease, impair AGNI and cause mucus congestion.

    • The diet should be balanced by including all six tastes – sweet, sour, salty, pungent (spices), bitter and astringent – in at least one meal per day. However, check the previous section concerning specific taste requirements and physiological needs or imbalances for your particular body type.

    • It is best not to heat or cook with honey; heat destroys it and makes it toxic.

    • Never eat just before going to bed. To avoid developing sleeping disorders, there should be at least three hours between eating and sleeping. If your bedtime is 10:00 p.m., eat no later than 6:00 p.m.

    • Chew your food thoroughly – the digestive process starts in the mouth.

    • Ayurveda does not favor the intake of too much raw food like raw vegetables, uncooked oat flakes, uncooked grains, etc. Fruits are an exception as they are already ‘cooked’ or ripened by the sun. The Pitta type is the only one among the body types who is able to digest more raw foods.

    • It is best not to eat when the mind is dominated by strong emotions such as anger, worry or sorrow. Wait until it has become more settled, since the digestive system does not work under stress.

    • Sleeping after meals causes sluggishness and increases Kapha and body weight. However, it is good to rest for about 10 minutes after meals and, if possible, to go for a 10 to 15 minute walk.

    • Food should always be delicious and pleasing to the senses and should be prepared by a happy cook.