Mealtimes in Ayurveda (When should we eat?)




Nowadays, people have started eating multiple times a day. Let’s see what ayurveda recommends. Ayurveda has two provisions for mealtimes. It recommends:

  1. Eating Once Daily – One meal a day diet plan.
  2. Eating Twice Daily – Two meals a day diet plan.

So, you need to choose which plan is best for you. It is entirely your own choice. In addition, ayurvedic texts also suggest eating whenever you feel appetite and drinking water whenever you feel thirsty. Therefore, if you are not hungry, you should skip the meal. You should eat food at the next scheduled mealtime.

Eating Once Daily – One meal a day

Sushruta Samhita explains this diet plan.

When to Eat

If you follow the One meal a day diet plan, Sushruta Samhita describes the different eating times according to the difference between day and night hours (seasons).

अतीवायतयामास्तु क्षपा येष्वृतुषु स्मृताः।। ४६७ ।। तेषु तत्प्त्यनीकाढ्यं भुञ्जीत प्रातरेव तु । येषु चापि भवेयुश्च दिवसा भृशमायताः ॥ ४६८।। तेषु तत्कालविहितमपराह्ले प्रशस्यते। रजन्यो दिवसाश्रैव येषु चापि समाः स्मृताः ।॥ ४६९ ॥ कृत्वा सममहोरात्रं तेषु भुजीत भोजनम्। (SS.S.Ch 46)

Seasons with Time to Eat
Long Nights & Short Days Purvanha (पूर्वान्ह)
Short Nights & Long Days Aparanha (अपरान्ह)
Equal Nights & Equal Days Madhyanha (मध्यान्ह)

Because Pahar time change according to sunrise and sunset each day, you need to check it in each season and your place of living.

  • During Long Nights and Short Days, Days’ Pahar are shorter.
  • During Short Nights and Long Days, Days’ Pahar are longer.
  • During Equal Nights and Equal Days, Days’ Pahar are equal.

Therefore, nowadays, it might not be practicable for all. The time should remain the same. So, your body clock adjusts accordingly.

Which time should be best for one mealtime?

In my opinion, 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm is the best time for one mealtime. It fits almost every season. You should fix a time to eat the main meal.

The main meal consists of everything you want to eat in a day including fruits, vegetables, intact whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, etc.


One meal a day diet plan is best for people:

  1. People who want more mental clarity and have a goal to achieve a high level of spiritual insight.
  2. People who are suffering from Lifestyle Disorders and Kapha Disease.

Lifestyle disorders include:

  • Obesity.
  • Heart diseases.
  • Hypothyroidism.
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
  • Atherosclerosis.
  • Stroke.
  • Diabetes.
  • Hypertension.
  • Colon cancer.
  • Blockage in blood vessels.


You should not follow this plan if you suffer from any of the following:

  • Malnutrition.
  • Underweight.
  • Vata Diseases.
  • Increased Pitta Disorders.
  • Children.
  • Pregnant women.

Two Meals a Day Diet Plan (Eating Twice Daily)

Two Meals a Day Diet Plan is also described by Sushruta Samhita. It is also indicated in Ashtanga Hridaya. It is well-explained in Bhava Prakash and Yoga Ratnakara.

हीनमात्रमसन्तोषं करोति च बलक्षयम्। आलस्यगौरवाटोपसादांश्च कुरुतेऽधिकम्॥४७३॥ तस्मात् सुसंस्कृतं युक्त्या दोषैरेतैर्विवर्जितम्। यथोक्त गुण सम्पन्नमुपसेवेत भोजनम् ॥। ४७४॥ विभज्य दोषकालादीन् कालयोरुभयोरपि । (SS.S.Ch 46)

(Meanings: Taking foods less than the required quantity causes loss of strength and you will not get a feeling of satiety. If you take food in excess than required, it causes laziness, bloating, and loss of digestive fire. Thus, you should take food in the proper amount two times in the morning and evening considering Dosha and Kala – time).

When to Eat 2 Meals

According to Ayurvedic literature, timings for morning and evening mealtimes should be:

  1. At One and quarter Pahar in the morning (i.e. approx. 3 hours 45 minutes after sunrise).
  2. Between the 3rd and 4th Pahar of day in the afternoon or approx. 3 hours before sunset. (i.e. around and after 3:00 pm).

(Reference: An English Translation of The Sushruta Samhita, Part 1, Sutra Sthana, Chapter 46, Page No. 558 (bottom comment by author), edited and published by Kaviraj Kunjalal Bhishagratna).

According to the above points, Ayurveda does not recommend eating food before sunrise and after sunset.

Which time should be best for 2 Mealtimes?

In my opinion, the following schedule should be best for the Two Meals a Day Diet Plan.

Morning Mealtime 8:00 am to 10:00 am
Evening Mealtime 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

The main meal consists of everything you want to eat daily, including fruits, vegetables, intact whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, etc. You can choose different foods for your morning and evening meals. It is all about your personal choice. Read More: Ayurvedic Diet Plan.

Poor Digestion

What should you do if food is not digested before mealtime?

प्रातराशे त्वजीर्णेऽपि सायमाशो न दुष्यति। अजीर्णे सायमाशे तु प्रातराशो हि दुप्यति॥३९॥ (AS.S.Ch 11)

According to Ashtang Sangraha, there is no problem eating an evening meal on schedule time though your morning meal is not properly digested. But you should never eat a morning meal until you have digested the previous day’s evening meal. In the morning, you should eat when you feel appetite and your bowel gets clear. It is a clear indication for One Meal a Day if the food you are facing digestion problems. If this problem continues, you should choose the One Meal a Day Diet Plan.


Two Meals a Day Diet Plan is best for people:

  1. All healthy people.
  2. Children.
  3. Pregnant women.
  4. People who want to avoid diseases.
  5. People suffer from any disease – Vata Diseases, Pitta Diseases or Kapha Diseases.

Anyone can follow this diet plan regardless of health condition, age, gender and nutritional needs.

Note: You can drink water any time whenever you feel thirsty. This rule does not apply to water intake.

Read More

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