Ayurvedic Food and Drink Rules

Ayurveda has long list of foods to avoid eating together and guidelines for how to eat. In this list I have condensed them into an easy to adapt, modernized guide to what the ancient yogis have known for thousands of years. Rules might seem weird, but it is actually pretty helpful and logical to have some structure around what and when to eat. You were probably never taught any rules around food but I promise if you try just one or two of these you will feel how you can easily impact your diet for the better.

Nine Ayurvedic Food Rules

  1. Eat only when you are TRULY hungry. The actual feeling of hunger is an emptiness below the navel, and a pleasant anticipation of your meal.
  2. 99.9% of the time eat cooked, warm, seasoned/spiced, and gently oiled foods.
  3. Allow three to four hours between meals for digestion to be complete.
  4. Drink no more than ½ cup of water with meals.
  5. NEVER drink ice-cold drinks. This stops your digestion and forces your body to work very hard to break down your meal. Sip warm/room temperature water instead.
  6. Sit down, relax, and have love and gratitude for your meal. Avoid distractions like t.v. or your phone. Never eat when angry, sad, or emotionally disturbed.
  7. Avoid eating food you don’t like as they won’t satisfy the mind and soul.
  8. Wait two hours after eating before sleeping or exercising.
  9. Avoid incompatible food combinations as follows:
    • Fruits with any other food→ Leave 30 minutes in between.
    • Do not cook or heat honey ex. microwave, baking, e.t.c. (ok in tea or water)
    • Consume one protein at a time ex. Choose either chicken or cheese not both.
    • Milk should mostly be eaten separate from other foods and always heated and spiced.
    • Smoothies should either be all vegetables or all fruits with no ice and no dairy. Both have specific benefits when the foods are separate; when they are mixed it is a cup of toxins.

Photo by Chelsea shapouri on Unsplash

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Anxiety: Start With Your Food

Through Ayurveda's perspective all aspects of life are made of different qualities. Foods, drinks, weather, places, people, relationships, experiences, even feelings. These qualities could be hot or cold, dry or moist, rough or smooth, cloudy or clear e.t.c. These qualities help us understand how to balance our imbalances, as like will increase like and opposites are very attractive here.

Take for example the Vata dosha. The Vata dosha is our constitution made of air and ether elements, so naturally as air is, the qualities that make up these types of foods, drinks, feelings, people, and experiences are as follows: light, cold, dry, rough, mobile, subtle, and clear.

Now let us apply those qualities to our feeling of anxiety. When we experience anxiety it could show up as a whole host of physical ailments. Some of which are heart palpitations, inability to breathe, racing frantic mind, fear, uneasiness, insomina, not being able to sit still, dry mouth, nausea, tense muscles, dizziness, or cold/sweaty/numb/tingling hands or feet. Almost each and every one of these sypmtoms have qualities of air: light, cold, dry, rough, mobile, subtle, and clear.

So if one was to have an anxiety attack, which action do you think would help calm the anxiety: quickly pacing around your room breathing shallow wringing your hands, or sitting down in a quiet place with your eyes closed focusing only on breathing slowly? Hard to do at the time of an anxiety attack but we both understand that similar actions to air or Vata will only increase the problem.

The causes of anxiety can be many different things but the root of it almost always points to a traumatic event-- whether getting in a car accident or being in an abusive relationship. Each and every one of these types of experiences rock our nervous system and unfortunately we are not trained in how to nourish our nervous system after the event or series of events. Therefore, anxiety can slowly creep into our lives and never leave, especially if we live a busy//crazy//hectic//stressfull//pressure-filled life.

Below is a list of foods, drinks, and actions I hope are helpful in understanding how your diet and lifestyle may be perpetuating your struggle with anxiety.

Opposite qualities of Vata: heavy, warm, smooth, nourishing, substantive, oily, and stabilizing.

Foods that cause anxiety:

Generally frozen/dry/raw/ vegetables, artichoke, black olives, bitter gourd, bitter melon, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, celery (fully cooked is fine), dandelion greens, kale, lettuce, watercress, sprouts, cabbage, green beans, peas, ANY bean besides red lentils and tofu/tempeh products, hummus, white potatoes, raw foods, raw veggies, salads, chips, popcorn, rice cakes, dry granola, dried fruits, persimmons, pomegranates, raw apples and pears… do you see a trend of cold, dry, and rough/cruciferous?

Drinks that cause anxiety:

Alcohol, caffeine, bitter teas such as dandelion, astringent teas such as hibiscus, jasmine, nettles, mint teas, rosehips, or passion flower, frozen smoothies, any drink with ice in it or very cold drinks

Actions that cause anxiety:

Running, travelling, driving, jumping, frantic/hectic movements, too much screen time, standing or talking while eating, excess stimulation-- especially noise like loud music or excited music, always having ear buds in, constatntly talking on the phone, listening to audiobooks while driving/in motion.

Foods to counteract anxiety:

Making sure your food is warm, cooked, well spiced, and well oiled; any fresh raw fruit besides apples and pears (apples and pears you stew with a little ghee/coconut oil and cinnamon), pumpkin, sweet potatoes, soaked nuts, avocado, asparagus, cucumber, okra, squashes, mushrooms, lean meats, beets, carrots, corn, garlic, onions, oils, grains that are spiced and oiled well, goat dairy... see a trend of moist and heavier?

Drinks and teas to counteract anxiety:

Lavender, chamomile, lemongrass, fennel tea, Tulsi-brahmi tea, aloe vera juice, coconut milk, coconut water, grape juice, lemonade or limeade, licorice tea, warm spiced and sweetened milk drinks.

Actions to counteract anxiety:

Walking not running, yoga that DOES NOT require you to be in a new pose every 30 seconds (think ashtanga, hatha, iyengar, or well thought out vinyasa sequence), choose calming meditative music at some point in the day if you listen to a lot of music, meditation or find at least once in your day to sit in silence for 10 minutes with just yourself no distractions, try moving slower from place to place or cut out unnecessary rush, sitting down to enjoy each meal and chew thoroughly, cutting out screens for at least an hour before bed, journaling, self-massage or abhyanga... take a minute to figure out in your day how you can cut down stimulation and move a little slower.

Photo by Yeshi Kangrang on Unsplash

Ayurveda Diet for Acne

Ayurvedic Diet for Acne

Acne usually plagues everyone at some point in their life. The unfortunate news is that it is DIRECTLY related to our diet (i.e. spicy Mexican food, arugula-mushroom-pancetta-pizza, the organic-delicious-cookie dough ice cream you love). The fortunate news is that it can be easy to fix if you are willing, to be honest about what works for your skin and not just your taste buds.

As you incorporate this anti-acne diet, center your meals around freshly cooked, organic whole foods. Avoid spicy, sour, salty and fermented foods, and stay away from all junk food and processed packaged food. Seriously, stop eating crap. Avoid leftovers as much as possible. If this isn’t possible, consume food within 24 hours of cooking. All meals should be easy to digest, well seasoned with spices, and warm.

Wholesome diet and habits for acne --

  • Lukewarm to warm water intake
  • Intake of easily digestible food
  • Daily intake of fruits and vegetables
  • Sound sleep for at least 6-8 hours
  • Anti-stress exercises like pranayama and yoga
  • Exposure to bright sunlight or take 5000 IUs of Vitamin D

Unwholesome diet and habits for acne --

  • Excess spices that increase Pitta
  • Excess sun exposure
  • Popping or touching the acne area repeatedly
  • Sleeping with make-up or heavy cream on
  • Although the pitta dosha is always at play in acne, you might be predominantly affected by the vata or kapha dosha.

→ If you have a drier, blackhead-prominent, painful vata-type of acne, avoid any foods on this list that can be constipating or gas-producing like cruciferous vegetables, dried fruits, and beans.

→ If you have large whiteheads and cystic, kapha-type acne, avoid heavy vegetables like sweet potatoes and pumpkins, and go very easy on the fruits, dairy, and oil.


Favor: Sweet fruits in general, sweet apples, berries, cherries, grapes, plums, pineapple and oranges, mango, dates, figs, melon, pears, watermelon, lime

Avoid: Sour apples, berries, cherries, cranberries, grapes, plums, papaya, pineapple and oranges, grapefruit, peaches, tamarind, strawberries


Favor: Artichoke, Asparagus, Black Olives, Bok choy, Bitter Gourd, Bitter Melon, Brussels sprouts, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, Green Beans, Endive, Fennel, Jicama, Potato, Leafy greens, Okra, Peas, Squash, Zucchini, Watercress

Avoid: Bell Pepper, beets, corn, chili pepper, eggplant, mustard greens, green olives, raw onion, raw garlic, radish, tomato, turnip, sweet potatoes, pumpkin


Favor: Amaranth, barley, couscous, granola, oats, quinoa, white rice (basmati, jasmine), brown rice (basmati, jasmine)

Avoid: Gluten, wheat, buckwheat, corn flour, millet, yeasted bread

Legumes: Avoid beans in general as they are very hard to digest, but especially avoid red lentils, tempeh, and tofu


Favor: Ghee

Avoid: Dairy in general but especially cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, yogurt, ice cream


Easier to digest white meats like turkey and chicken or sustainably raised/caught freshwater fish are best if they were raised well and fed an organic, natural diet for the specific animal. If we choose to eat animals that have been fed pesticides and very processed feed, what do you think our bodies are absorbing?

Avoid: red meats, eggs, fish, seafood

Nuts and Seeds

Favor: Almonds (very minimal amounts), coconut, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds. Seeds are always better than nuts because they have less oil content.

Avoid: Nuts in general but especially cashews, peanuts, sesame seeds, tahini


Favor: Coconut (minimal amounts), ghee (minimal amounts), sunflower (minimal amounts), olive oil (minimal amounts)

Avoid: Canola, corn, sesame, or any other oil not mentioned above


Favor: Cardamom, cinnamon, cilantro, clove, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, fenugreek (in moderation), fresh ginger, lemongrass, mint, parsley, saffron (in moderation), turmeric (in moderation)

Avoid: Bay leaves, cayenne, chili, garlic, dry ginger, ketchup, kimchi, mayonnaise, mustard, mustard seeds, pickles, saurkraut, vinegar


Favor: Dates, figs, honey, maple syrup, rock sugar, sucanat, sweet fruits

Avoid: Chocolate, heavy desserts, junk food pastries, processed food, white sugar


Favor: Almond milk, chamomile tea, coconut water, dandelion tea, fennel tea, licorice tea, rice milk, hibiscus tea, rosehips tea, lavender tea, fresh/filtered/spring water

Avoid: Alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee, iced drinks, iced tea, kombucha, lemonade, sour fruit juices

Acne can also be caused by more deep-rooted imbalances like parasites from previous food poisoning or an inability to digest your food at all. Contact your local Ayurveda practitioner (like me) to help you naturally sort this out without relying on acidic skin treatments or antibiotics (which only make it worse).

References: Lad, Vasant. Textbook of Ayurveda: Fundamental Principles. Albuquerque: The Ayurvedic Press, 2002 http://www.holisticvanity.ca/ayurvedic-approach-acne-chat-dr-vasant-lad/ http://easyayurveda.com/2014/08/04/ayurvedic-treatment-for-pimple-cause-herbs-home-remedies/ https://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/02/the-complete-anti-acne-diet/ Photo by Xenia Bogarova on Unsplash