Ahara, or food, is one of the Traya Upastambha (3 supporting pillars) to sustain life, the oth er two being Nidra (sleep) and Brahmacharya (celibacy). In Ayurveda, food is also called “Mahabheshaj,” meaning “the biggest medicine”, as long as it is consumed keeping the Ayurvedic principles in mind. The same food can be detrimental to one’s health if one eats food incompatible with their Dosha, Agni, season, and time of the day. To completely understand what constitutes nutritious food, one must understand the basic principles of food that Ayurveda has known for years. 

An ideal Ayurvedic diet is a wholesome meal plan designed to suit an individual’s Dosha constitution, state of Agni, age, gender and overall state of health. A nutritious and all-encompassing Ayurvedic meal comprises all six tastes and ingredients eaten according to the season and time of the day. A general eating guide compatible with all Dosha’s is given below. 


Breakfast time is the Kapha dominant time. The main principle behind an Ayurvedic breakfast is based on the fact that mornings are cold, moist and heavy. Breakfast, therefore, should be warm, light and nourishing; nothing cold, very heavy and oily as it will dampen the morning Agni. Breakfast should be of moderate quantity, sweet and spiced with stimulating ingredients like black pepper, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. It should be warm and spiced and not mixed with anything savoury if consuming milk. 

Opt for small amounts of Himalayan rock salt and sweet amounts of honey, maple syrup, jaggery, or dried fruits to add flavour to your breakfast meal. 

Some ideal breakfast choices: 

  • Millet cereals or porridge with warm spiced milk or almond milk. Cooked oatmeal porridge with little ghee. 
  • Cinnamon warm couscous with veggies/rice congee, preferably spiced.
  • Moong Dal Chilla/Idli, Dosa, and Uttapam with seasonings of curry leaves, fenugreek seeds or leaves and turmeric, are ideal. 
  • Buckwheat pancakes, rice flour pancakes with clarified butter and maple syrup. Stewed apples with cinnamon or nutmeg can be added. 
  • Gluten-free/whole-wheat toast with eggs, accompanied with sides of avocado, feta cheese, and grilled peppers. 
  • During spring and summer, keep the breakfast warm and light only. Winter is the time of the year when your Agni is strongest. Therefore winter breakfast can be heavier and sweeter (more carbohydrate-rich) than the rest of the year. 


Fruits should be consumed between 10:30 am and 12 noon. This is the time when the digestive fire is at its peak. Consuming fruits will stimulate Kapha. By the time digestion of the fruits is completed the body is ready for the main meal. 

Fruits are best when eaten on their own. Do not eat more than two types of fruits at a time. Do not eat raw fruits during winters preferably fruits should be stewed and spiced with herbs like cinnamon, black pepper, or nutmeg.

Avoid fruits when you are sick. Read more about fruits on incompatible food combinations.


Lunch is best consumed when the digestive fire is at its peak. This is the mid day meal  with the dominance of Pitta Dosh at that time. A lunch platter should be the most fulfilling, with relatively more food items than breakfast or dinner with more complex carbohydrates and proteins. Your meal can include all the six tastes during lunch. So eat your lunch like a king. Read more on meal planning on Thali – the Ayurvedic platter.

  • A cooling, calming, raw (but in moderation), slightly dry and heavy, not overly spicy and not too oily or fried lunch is recommended. Emphasise grains, pulses and vegetables. Even non-vegetarian food items can be incorporated into the lunch meal. Desserts like puddings, and Indian sweets like gulab jamun or halwa, which are heavy to digest, can be consumed during lunch. It is best to start your meal with a dessert as it has a sweet taste. Interestingly most people can not fathom starting a meal with dessert. Ayurveda and its wisdom in understanding the dominant Dosha cycle of digestion gives us the correct sequence of eating and digesting. 
  • Curd should not be eaten daily. However, buttermilk can be taken daily after lunch to wind up digestion. Also, added spices like cumin and rock salt can enhance the flavour and help in the digestion of the meal. 
  • Avoid excessively spicy, salty and sour foods, junk foods, alcohol and hot drinks with your meals. 
  • Do not douse your meal with water after you finish. This will diminish the Agni and interfere with digestion. Water is best-had sip by sip with your meal. A dry, less liquid meal should be consumed with sips of water between the bites. A more soupy meal can be had with less water.
  • Avoid eating salads for lunch if you have impaired Agni or a weak digestive system. Raw food is difficult to digest, and despite its health benefits, it increases Vata Dosha in the body and can lead to many Vata related disorders. Those with digestive issues should opt for well-cooked meals. 

Late afternoon/evening 

2:00 am – 6:00 pm is predominantly Vata time. It is the most delicate time for Vata imbalance. There would also be a sense of intense hunger, especially around 4:00 pm, which can sometimes be a false signal due to Vata’s prominence. Sip a glass of warm water (plain or infused), wait a few minutes and eat only if the hunger persists. 

Fruits are your best friend for a snack at this time. If hunger persists, snack on light, nourishing food like low-fat yoghurt, soaked nuts with raisins, dates, and figs to pacify Vata. Avoid heavy or unbalancing food combinations at this time. Coffee and tea are best avoided after 2 PM for a restful sleep. The best drink options for the day are infusions with lemon and ginger. 


Dinner again falls in the Kapha time. It has to be the lightest of all the meals to allow for complete digestion before sleeping. The time after dinner and the next day’s breakfast is crucial for your body to detox. Hence, a light, nourishing dinner is crucial for maintaining good health and cellular health. Some dinner choices include: 

  • Warm, liquid/stew/soup consistency based foods are the best to keep Vata and Kapha energy balanced. It promotes good digestion and restful sleep. Soups are good to begin the meal. 
  • Vegetarian proteins like cheese, paneer, light dal like moong dal and vegetables can be included. 
  • Vegetables are your best friends for dinner. Light and easy to digest, they will ensure good digestion. 
  • Prefer to avoid raw food, cold snacks, ice creams, fruits and yoghurt at night. 
  • Avoid eating meat twice a day. 
  • Finish dinner with the setting sun to ensure perfect digestion. Milk and turmeric or a cup of chamomile tea can be had for a late evening drink for a good night’s sleep.

Take this quiz to discover your unique mind-body type (also known as your dosha type)
and start on your personalised path to wellness.