The basic answer to any question in Ayurveda is, “it depends”… this includes all habits. Whether a particular habit should be attained or avoided, depends on one’s age, constitution, season, locale and state of health. However, there are a some constant do’s and don’t’s, according to ancient shaastra (texts).
On changing one’s Habits
“Unhealthy habits to which one is accustomed should be discontinued gradually. Healthy habits should be introduced gradually… thus, bad effects diminish gradually and good effects increase gradually and the state of balance becomes stable.” – Ashtanga Hrdayam, ch 12
On the Ideal Food
“Food should be consumed at the proper time, clean, suited to individual health, of proper oiliness, hot, easily digestable, partaken with attention, containing all six tastes – with a predominance of sweet taste, eaten neither too quickly nor too slowly. Food should be partaken by one who is clean, having good appetite and digestive fire, with clean feet, with clean hands and with clean face. One should eat after caring for the ancestors, gods, guests, children and parents and any other dependants of the house (such as household staff or pets). One should eat food only after considering one’s own constitution as well as personal likes and dislikes. One should eat without excessive talking and in the company of liked persons.” – Ashtanga Hrdayam
“[By the end of the meal] half the stomach should be full of food, one fourth with liquid, and the remaining one fourth should be vacant for accomodating air and space.” – Ashtanga Hrdayam.
“Foods that promote longevity, virtue, strength, health, happiness and joy are juicy smooth, substantial and agreeable to the stomach”. – Bhagavad Gita
“The first form of happiness is sound health. One should thus partake in nutritious, balanced food to keep the body and mind healthy.” – Rig Veda
“Happiness and unhappiness, nourishment and emaciation, strength and debility, sexual prowess and impotence, Knowledge and ignorance, life and death are all dependent on sleep.” – Ashtanga Hrdayam
“Sleep at the improper time, or in excess, or not at all destroys happiness and life” – Ashtanga Hrdayam
“Insomnia is drying (increases vata) and sleeping during the day is moistening (increases kapha). However a nap or sitting comfortable for day-time rest is balanced.” – Ashtanga Hrdayam
“Those suffering from too little sleep should enjoy milk, wine, broth, yogurt, oil massage, warm baths, and anointing the body with essential oils as well as engaging in feelings of satisfaction and comfort to the mind” – Ashtanga Hrdayam
“For a woman, balanced indulgence in sexual relations results in good memory, intelligence, longlife, health, nourishment, clear senses, strength, and youthfullness” – Ashtanga Hrdayam
“After sexual relations, a man should enjoy a bath, exposure to open air and cool breeze, nourishing elixir of milk and sugar and then go to sleep to return vigour to the body” – Ashtanga Hrdayam
“Sexual activity can be enjoyed most in the winter (cold season), moderately in the spring and autumn, and occasionally in the summer (hot season).”
On Food Quantity
“One should always consume the proper quantity of food in accordance with one’s digestive fire (agni).” – Ashtanga Hrdayam
“Insufficient quantity of food is a cause for weakness and all diseases of vata nature. Excess quanity of food can aggravate all the doshas.” – Ashtanga Hrdayam
On Food Combining
“Eating incompatable foods should be considered similar to poison” – Ashtanga Hrdayam
- Milk is incompatable with beer or anything fermented.
- Ghee should not be mixed with honey in equal proportions (by weight)
- All sour substances and all fruits are incompatable with milk
- After consuming green leafy vegetables, milk should be avoided
- Meat and fish is incompatable with honey, milk, molasses.
- Meat of different animals should not be combined
On Ama (Toxicity)
“Persons who indulge in incompatable foods, overeating and eating of uncooked food develop the dreaded āma (toxins) which is similar to poison.” – Ashtanga Hrdayam