The Do’s and Don’ts of general eating habits

It has been long claimed that how you eat is superior in importance to what you eat. Maimonides teaches that eating a lot of healthy food is much more harmful than eating a little of unhealthy food. This statement puts the emphasis on the ability to successfully digest your meal rather than on what you eat. So before I explain the fundamentals of individually correct food choices, it is elementary and crucial to establish correct eating habits. Proper eating habits help most people maintain a healthy digestive system most of the time. General eating principles relate less to food types and their composition and more to the ability to digest food successfully.


It’s important to create and maintain routine eating habits, eating at regular hours. This is true because the digestive system is the foundation for our sense of certainty and security. Digested food bestows security to our internal organs through the blood, and is programmed to digest at fixed hours, supplying our blood regularly. Routine meal times allow digestion the necessary down time to successfully digest a meal.


You should eat relaxedly, attentively while focusing on your food. Avoid eating in a very talkative atmosphere with noise or exaggerated laughter. Avoid looking at screens or reading during meals. Digestion is a parasympathetic modulated process, which means you digest when you are relaxed. So eating while over exited or stressed, when your sympathetic nervous system is dominant, will compromise digestive success. Another aspect of digestion is your energy distribution. Digestion is costly energy wise, but so is thinking. If while eating you are reading or watching or listening and your awareness is elsewhere than your food, you will be investing your energy on mental processes, on expense of your digestion, resulting in less than optimal digestion. Whatever you are preoccupied with may also be exiting or stressing you which interferes with digestion as well. Another result of concentrating on screens while eating is that although the GI tract is filling with food, your head is elsewhere. What happens is that soon after your done eating your body is full but your head is hungry! It just missed your last meal…. Eating with full attention is crucial for digestion and for a continual sensation of satisfaction from your food.

And last but not least, while concentrating on the screen, you are more likely to eat more than you need and swallow your food without properly chewing it, which leads to indigestion.

So the correct way to eat is to be fully concentrated on your food. Regard eating as meditation, keeping aware of every bite, experiencing the food by vision, touch, scent, sound and taste. This does not mean you should eat alone! Although eating alone once in a while could be a good experience to brush up your eating meditation skills, it is a depressing thought to eat alone on a regular basis. Eating with family contributes to family stability, as food sheds security, stability, bindedness, and solidarity. But, keep your mind relaxed and attentive to your food, and pass this approach to your children by setting a personal example. During the meal you should chew well, breathe, talk little and enjoy yourself and your company.


Insofar as it is possible, it is recommended to remain calm during and after the meal. It is better to eat less when emotional (sorrow, anger, anxiety). Strong emotions, including positive ones as feeling excited or passionate will ignite the sympathetic nervous system and hinder proper digestion. It’s a common experience of losing your appetite when exited, madly in love or anxious, which is a natural response when emotions are intense. On the contrary, emotional eating, sometimes excessively, under the influence of anger, frustration, anxiety, worry or grief reflects a deeper state of imbalance, causing indigestion, medical complications and the risk of developing an eating disorder.


Don’t eat too fast – food doesn’t get absorbed well when eating fast. Digestion is an internal “cooking” process, which means it needs time, time to start the breakdown of food in your mouth by the act of chewing and mixing the food with saliva. Further down, the stomach needs time for churning the food. When you eat too fast, you skip the chewing part and stimulate too much peristalsis in your intestines, resulting in the food traveling to fast through your GI tract without being broken down or absorbed properly, which ultimately results in indigestion and malnourishment.

Don’t eat too slowly – because then you eat too much (like snacking), the food gets cold and doesn’t get digested properly.

Before the meal:

Wash your hands and face, and wash your feet. Water helps clear your mind before approaching your meal. You can regard washing as means to separate between your activity and you’re eating meditation, so you don’t mix your stress and emotions with your food. Washing also invigorates and stimulates the appetite by activating your parasympathetic nervous system. Another less acceptable practice in the modern world is eating with your fingers. Licking the tips of your fingers with satisfactory delicious food is not only a lot of fun! It actually stimulates your digestion! 


Don’t eat standing up, walking or lying down. Eating and digesting will require a big blood supply to the digestive organs. If the blood is flowing to the skeletal muscles instead, digestion will be hindered. Lying down makes it hard to chew and swallow, unless you are ill and consuming liquid texture food. It is recommended to sit in a manner that will enable you to breathe easily and will not put pressure on your stomach.


Eat in a pleasant place and atmosphere using attractive dishes. This kind of soothing atmosphere will help you relax and ignite your digestion.

Eating according to your digestive ability:

Avoid heavy food when your digestive ability is weak/slow; avoid light food when your digestive ability is sharp/fast and strong; avoid a varied and complicated diet when your digestive ability is weak or irregular.

Cooked food vs. raw food:

Most people need cooked food in order to digest properly. A mostly cooked diet will digest better and prevent digestive symptoms such as gas or bloating. There are situations and periods in life when eating raw food not only doesn’t harm us, it’s even desirable for our digestion, for example during puberty, when the digestive system is at its peak, or for adults with a particularly strong digestive “fire”.

Cooked food should be eaten warm:

Warm food is tastier, strengthens the digestion, is digested faster, reduces flatulence and releases existing gas, and reduces phlegm. Cold food uses up a lot of energy (to bring the food to body temperature). Using the idea of a fire, when food is warm it will be easier to burn while cold food will require more time and energy to burn.

Food should be moderately moist/oily

Oily food is tastier! It enhances digestion and builds the body tissues; it’s good for the senses, builds strength and stamina and is good for the skin. Dry food causes flatulence and constipation.


The food must be tasty for it to be digested successfully! Avoid eating unsavory food.


To aid your digestion, the meal should include a small number of different items that don’t counteract each other. It’s good to vary the diet during the week, but variety is not needed in a single meal.

The food quality:

Insofar as it is possible, choose organic, unprocessed food, which grows in your area and according to the time of year.

Good measure:

Eat until you are almost full and never eat once you are satiated. Food portion should not “choke” the digestive fire. Eat till 90% satisfaction, and stop while still feeling some space is left.

The right amount:

To find the right amount, you should eat attentively and fairly slowly, chew well, eat a simple meal made from a few different ingredients and stop eating before you feel completely full.

After the meal:

Sparing time for digestion is as important as setting regular hours to eat; you should neither exert energy, nor shower, nor sleep immediately after you eat. It is advisable to walk a little (leisure walk, not sportive) after the meal. If you’re feeling tired you can rest a little on your left side.


Eat the next meal only after you have digested the previous meal and you feel a renewed sense of appetite. Eating again before the previous meal has been cleared from the stomach will cause a mixed mess of new food with the partially digested food, which inevitably will result in blockage, congestion and indigestion. 


Avoid feeling extreme hunger, as it most probably will cause elevated stress levels and incontrollable eating. If you have reached the state of extreme hunger, first eat something small, rich in simple sugars, such as a fruit, and wait approximately 10 minutes for your energy levels to renew themselves. Then proceed to eat your meal.


You should feel comfortably full for at least 2-3 hours after a meal, without having incessant thoughts about food. If you keep having thoughts about food and struggle with the desire for a specific food, check if one of the main food groups (carbs, fats, proteins) are missing in your meals, and consider increasing your intake.

First meal:

Ideally, it is better to first eat in the morning only after you empty your bowls and bladder.

Eating times:

Ideally eat breakfast around 8:00 AM, lunch around 12:30 PM and dinner around 18:00 PM. It is best to avoid night eating completely, which means that normally there should be no more food after dinner. Wait at least two hours or more after dinner before going to sleep. If you have stayed awake late and start feeling hungry again, this means you have passed your optimal bed time. For certain individuals (either Vata or Pitta types) a late evening snack or nourishing beverage may be essential for health.

Avoid combining food types that aren’t digested well together:

    • Combining extremely warming with extremely cooling food (such as fish and milk)
    • Alternating a cold bite and a hot bite (such as cooked rice and a cold salad on the side), although you can mix the salad with the rice to bring them both to the same temperature
    • Two types of proteins simultaneously (for example meet and legumes or meat and fish)
    • Milk and meat
    • Milk and fish
    • Milk and salty food
    • Milk and sour food
    • Milk and sour fruit (mango, citrus fruits, pomegranate)
    • Milk and banana
    • Drinking milk and then eating garlic/radish/basil
    • Honey and meat
    • Sweet and fatty combinations such as equal amounts of honey and ghee
    • Ghee and cold food or cold water
    • Eating yogurt at night
    • Eating a diverse fruit salad
    • Drinking cold water immediately after a hot drink (such as coffee or tea)

Wrong combinations can be avoided by eating simple meals:

Eat only one type of grain, one type of protein, 2-3 different vegetables in a cooked meal.

Who can eat difficult to digest food or non-recommended food combinations, and when:

Some food items which are difficult for digestion or difficult to digest food combinations can be digested successfully by people who are strong and physically active, when the appetite is strong, when the amount eaten is small and by using spices or drinking wine to promote digestion.

Geography and climate:

Avoid dry and sharp food in dry areas; avoid wet and oily food in humid climates. Avoid cold food in the winter and hot food in the summer.

Habitual eating:

Avoid eating and/or using spices you’re not used to. For example, when a person who normally eats hot and spicy food eats cold sweet food, it can lead to indigestion.

Preparation method:

Avoid raw or not fully cooked food (such as rice that has not been cooked until soft) or overly cooked burned food. Avoid unripe or overripe/rotten food.

Eating according to your bowel movements:

People who get constipated or have hard stools should avoid heavy cooling dry food; and those who have frequent soft bowel movements or diarrhea should avoid light warming oily/wet food.

Eating according to your stamina and activity:

Skinny people or people who are intensively active in sports should avoid consuming drying, and cleansing foods (such as celery sticks). People who either sleep a lot or sit a lot throughout the day should avoid eating heavy sticky food (like peanut butter).

Eating according to your energy level:

Avoid eating if you are tired or exhausted. First rest to come round, then eat something small and energizing (e.g. date or banana) and wait till you feel recovered and hungry.


Some sort of light physical exercise such as walking or movement such as stretching first thing in the morning before breakfast and between meals will improve overall circulation in the body so your digestive organs will be energized. Exercise also helps to clean and clear your digestive tract. When your digestive organs are clean and free of excessive mucus, your enzymes will quickly break down the food.

Eat at least 2.5 hours before substantial exercise and make sure you choose food of quality and quantity wise that will be cleared from the stomach before you start training.

After training rest first until you feel recovered and only then eat the next meal according to the time of day.


To kindle your digestion, use spices that are dry, hot and light, such as black pepper, cumin, ginger, cardamom etc. Ignite your digestion before meals with a wedge of lime, slice of fresh ginger and a pinch of salt. If your digestion is weak due to inflammation and irritation, eat soothing, anti-inflammatory foods instead of the suggested spices.

When to separate animal protein from carbs:

Eat only one of these per meal if your digestion is weak or slow, if you want to lose weight or during the summer.

Take your own needs into consideration when eating:

In any case, diet and eating habits should be personally modified and adjusted to meet the individual’s unique needs.


Do’s and Don’ts of Liquid Consumption Habits

Recommended drinking times:

It is recommended to drink water between meals, on an empty stomach, adjusting the quantity to your thirst. It’s advisable to drink one or two glasses of lukewarm water about 20 minutes before the meal, to saturate the body before eating, thereby avoiding being thirsty during the meal itself or immediately afterwards. When you are adequately hydrated, your body produces plenty of digestive fluids.

Drinking water or other beverages adjacent to meals, during meals or within two hours after meals will dilute the digestive juices, slow down the digestive process and possibly put out the digestive “cooking fire”, resulting in indigestion, bloating, gas, etc. 

When to drink less

It is recommended not to drink (or at least to only drink very little, or just a few sips) immediately before, during and after the meal. Drinking too much at these times disturbs the digestive process. When feeling thirsty close to meal time, it is advisable to drink a few sips of warm water or tea, as is the custom in many cultures.

If you drink during the meal:

Drink only a little, taking small sips. It is better to drink after or even during the meal, but avoid drinking right before the meal.

Before and after sleep:

Avoid drinking stimulating drinks immediately before and after sleep. Drinking coffee first thing in the morning is not recommended, because the transition from being asleep to being awake should be gradual and natural, rather than fast, sudden and aggressive. Drinking stimulating beverages before bed time may interfere with falling asleep or with the flow of sleep, or cause night time urination.


Cold drinks put out the digestive fire and harm the digestive process; therefore their consumption should be reduced or modified according to individual needs. They can be suitable for Pitta types, when extremely thirsty, when the weather is very hot or when having a burning sensation in the mouth or elsewhere along the digestive system.


Prefer taking small sips or simply drink slowly over a full glass in one long gulp.


The correct amount of water per day depends on your body type, age, climate and level of activity. Drink according to your thirst. When thirsty, you should drink and not postpone your feeling of thirst. If you’re not thirsty, it’s better not to force-drink because of the idea that drinking a lot of water is healthy.

Use drinks as digestive aids:

Herbal teas with spices such as ginger, black pepper, fennel, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom etc. will ignite digestion.

How to prepare different drinks

  1. Juice: Of all the preparation methods, fresh juice made from herbs, vegetables or fruit has the most potent medicinal effect. Its disadvantage is in its being tough to digest, wet, cold and heavy.Juice loses its medical qualities in a fairly short time after extraction.
  2. Cold immersion: Immersing herbs or medicinal herbs in room temperature water. This method is uncommon, but good for plants with easily dispersing odors. This type of preparation is typical with coriander seeds, for treating burning sensations, or with raisins for treating constipation and improving the memory.
  3. Brewing: Immersing plants in boiling water, just like when making tea. This method is suitable for plants with an odor that doesn’t disperse easily and a texture which is not hard and condensed, such as chamomile flowers, cardamom seeds, lemon grass, lemon verbena, sage. Brewing in boiling water is an easy to digest method, excellent as a daily routine.
  4. Boiling: Cooking the plants in water to a boil, and then simmering until the amount of water is reduced to about a quarter of the original amount (after the plants are filtered out). This method is mostly suitable for hard substances, like roots, peels and seeds, ginger, cinnamon, cumin. This preparation method is easily digested and extremely recommended when digestion is weak or when there is measurable fever.

Drink types:


Invigorating, thirst-quenching, calming and mind sharpening, refreshing and cooling.

  1. Warm water: Helps reinforce digestion and helps alleviate flatulation, good for the throat and for coughing, helps the body discharge phlegm or other toxicity, cleans the bladder.
  2. Boiled and reduced hot water: Strengthen the digestion and good for promoting weight loss.


In Ayurveda, milk is considered very nutritious, good for all tissues and strengthening. In modern times, milk has rightfullyearned a very negative image in light of industry issues related to milk and its products.Therefore, people who need milk in their nutrition, should try to get milk from animals that are well-treated, well-fed and grown insuitablegrowing conditions. The way we consume milk in the West has harmed its health image. Cold refrigerated milk, sometimes combined with other food (such as cereal and milk), causes indigestion of the milk, promotes formation of phlegm in the respiratory system and causes development of diseases which are typical in many children (allergy, asthma, cough, ear infections, stomach ache and diarrhea).

To benefit from the milk’s nutritious qualities, the milk must be boiled. Unboiled milk is equivalent to an uncooked egg. The protein in milk coagulates during the cooking process and becomes easier to digest.Milk should be warm for drinking on an empty stomach, mostly in the evening or at night and should not be combined with other food items. Consuming milk properly allows it to be digested without difficulty.

  1. Cow’s milk (boiled) – prolongs life expectancy, rejuvenates, improves mental capacity, promotes normal bowel movement, contributes to good deep sleep and is used for treating bleeding, urinary tract problems and chronic lack in energy.
  2. Goats’ milk– is easier to digest than cow’s milk but is less nutritious or grounding.


Strengthens the digestion, treats constipation, generally good for the health when consumed in the right amount, and toxic when consumed in excess. Half a glass of red wine with the meal is an appropriate amount.Avoid drinking alcohol in the summer.

Diluted mixed yogurt (takra):

Take half a cup of yogurt and half a cup of water and mix for 5-10 minutes until the texture is homogeneous.Add a dash of salt and other spices according to the problem.Mixed yogurt is particularly good for hemorrhoids, small intestine absorption diseases, enlarged spleen and anemia.

Coconut water:

Cooling, thirst-quenching, cleanses the bladder, easy to digest, increases strength.

Coriander or parsley juice:

Diuretic, increase urine volume and are therefore good for kidney and urinary tract problems, good for treating urinary tract infections, and especially good during the summer.

Black coffee and tea:

In relatively small amounts they stimulate and invigorate the digestion, in relatively large amounts they cause diarrhea and are diuretic, drying the body tissues, and negatively influence the body’s vigor.

Carbonated beverages:

Difficult to digest, better to avoid altogether.


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