Other Ayurvedic Eating Practices
Following an Ayurvedic diet isn’t just about what foods you eat but also how you eat them. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:
When to eat
- Breakfast: The first meal of the day should be eaten before 8 a.m. (Yep, that means on weekends too.) And you should always eat breakfast, and all other meals, according to the season. Find the best breakfast for your dosha.
- Lunch: Lunch should ideally be consumed between noon and 12:30 p.m. and should never be eaten after 2 p.m., writes Shunya. This should be the largest meal of the day.
- Dinner: Have your evening meal before 7 p.m. It should be the lightest meal of the day since your digestion may not be as sharp as it was in the daytime. If you have to eat later, pick a time and stick to it—aim to keep mealtimes regular. (Psst: Here are the Ayurvedic dinner recipes you should make, based on your dosha.)
Cook food mindfully.
Typically, making dinner involves a quick trip to the grocery store, coming home and realizing we’ve forgotten a key ingredient, and then a mad dash to get something on the table before 9 p.m., all while turning the kitchen into a giant mess. It’s not exactly a Zen activity. But for those following an Ayurvedic diet, cooking should be a tranquil experience. “Ayurveda recommends preparing fresh foods in a slow and relaxed manner in a spirit of joy and with the keen anticipation that will make the salivary glands and other digestive juices flow,” says Shunya.
Make each meal an event.
Time to bust out the fine china. Yep, even if you’re eating solo. Set the stage for your meal with beautiful, clean and inspirational crockery, advises Shunya. Put some music on in the background (she recommends wind chimes) and consider lighting a candle or having some fresh fruits or flowers as a centerpiece.
Don’t eat too quickly.
And remember to chew your food. It’s all about being mindful about what you’re eating and how it tastes, as well as allowing your digestive system to do its thing. (But don’t eat so slowly that your food becomes cold.)
Don’t eat too much...or too little.
This one is tricky since the right amount of food depends on the person. Shunya’s advice? “Eat until you feel pleasantly satiated. When you walk away from the table, you should not have any discomfort in your abdomen, your breathing should be comfortable and your mind should feel content. Only you know where to draw the line.” If you’re not sure how to do this, try to stop eating just before you’re full. (It’s OK to feel a little bit hungry after a meal.) Still need some help? Imagine your stomach is divided into four parts: two are for solids, one is for liquids and the last one you should keep empty so that everything digests appropriately.
Avoid mutually incompatible foods
. Certain foods should not be eaten together, per Ayurvedic principles. For example, milk and vegetables, egg and meat, chicken and honey, lemon and tomato. Another bad combo? Raw fruit with cooked food (so go ahead and cancel that pineapple pizza order). These bad combos can upset the digestive system and cause unnecessary strain to your body.
Drink water consciously.
You know you’re supposed to drink eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated, but because you’re usually busy, you totally forget and often go for long stretches without drinking anything at all and then gulp a giant glass in two minutes flat. (Hey, us too.) Well, did you know there’s an Ayurvedic way of drinking water? Per our friends at Vasanti Health, sipping water slowly and deliberately throughout the day is much more beneficial to your body than sudden gulping. Ideally, this water should be room temperature or warm (not ice-cold).
Cook with ghee.
This clarified butter should be your main cooking medium. Ghee has a super-high smoke point, which makes it great for sautéing. And because it has no milk proteins or lactose, it’s easier for sensitive stomachs to digest. (Don’t worry, it tastes like butter.)