In today’s fast-paced world, where convenience often takes precedence over health, pausing and reflecting on the daily choices we make when it comes to our diet is important.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition, Ayurveda encourages all of us to be mindful of the foods we consume to maintain balance and harmony within our bodies.
Sometimes, that means eating less of the foods we like because they can aggravate our dosha.
Other times, it means setting clear boundaries and completely avoiding items that we know can be very harmful physically and emotionally, offer zero nutritional value, and have a poisonous effect.
In this article, we delve into the 20 foods you shouldn’t eat, so you can make more conscious dietary choices.
A deeper dive: unmasking the culprits
In our self-exploration and healing journeys, we eventually uncover hidden truths behind commonly consumed foods, first shedding light on their effects on our health and vitality and then taking the decision to remove them from our life.
Ayurveda, with its time-tested principles, provides a lens through which we can understand the deeper impact of these foods, empowering us to take decisions that resonate with our body type.
The more we disconnect from our true essence and our body, the more we will be dominated by these processed foods, quick fixes, and fad diets, which eventually sow the seeds of imbalance and disharmony.
In contrast, as we evolve, we recognize that our bodies are sacred vessels, deserving of sustenance that aligns with our dosha and in need of Prana. We also understand that food is not merely fuel but a powerful medicine — or neutral nourishment —with the power to cultivate vibrant health and ignite a transformative internal shift.
Now, this is the list of foods you want to consider eliminating and replacing with healthier options.
20 foods you shouldn’t eat
With the wisdom of Ayurveda as our compass, let’s unveil the 20 foods that Ayurveda suggests we should avoid:
1. Processed foods
Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of consuming fresh, whole foods to nurture our bodies and minds.
Processed foods, laden with artificial preservatives, flavors, and additives, often lack vital nutrients and disrupt the body’s natural processes. Steering clear of heavily processed snacks, packaged meals, and sugary treats can help restore vitality and promote a more balanced approach to eating.
2. Carbonated drinks
Sodas and carbonated beverages might provide momentary refreshment, but Ayurveda cautions against their long-term consumption. These drinks are high in added sugars and artificial sweeteners, which can lead to digestive imbalances, weight gain, and an increased risk of chronic illnesses.
They are also very airy and can deeply disturb Vata dosha.
Opting for herbal teas, fresh, homemade juices, or infused water is a healthier choice that nurtures your body without compromising your well-being.
3. Canned foods
One of the foods you shouldn’t eat are canned foods.
While they can be convenient and have an extended shelf life, Ayurveda highlights potential risks associated with their consumption.
Firstly, they lack vital force and can be categorized as dead foods.
Moreover, the canning process typically involves additives, excessive sodium, and the use of chemical coatings inside the cans. Instead, Ayurvedic principles encourage opting for fresh, locally sourced ingredients to benefit from the natural goodness of unprocessed foods.
4. Artificial sweeteners
Many of us turn to artificial sweeteners as a “guilt-free” alternative to sugar. However, Ayurveda advises against their usage due to their synthetic nature and potential adverse effects on the body.
These sweeteners can disrupt the delicate balance of our taste buds and our hormones. They may also have long-term consequences. For instance, they can alter our taste preferences, making naturally sweet foods like fruits and vegetables seem less appealing. And they also perpetuate a desire for intense sweetness, leading to increased cravings for sugary foods.
Embracing natural sweeteners like raw honey, jaggery, or dates can sweeten naturally your recipes while balancing your dosha.
5. Fast food
Fast food has become a ubiquitous part of modern life, but Ayurveda raises red flags when it comes to its impact on our health.
Laden with unhealthy fats, refined carbohydrates, and excessive sodium, these quick bites often lack essential nutrients and can induce weight gain, digestive issues, and an increased risk of chronic diseases.
Prioritizing home-cooked meals prepared with fresh ingredients allows you to take charge of your health and savor the benefits of mindful eating.
6. Deep-fried foods
While the occasional indulgence in deep-fried delicacies can be enjoyable, Ayurveda advises moderation.
Deep-frying foods at high temperatures can trigger Pitta and Kapha dosha, contribute to the formation of harmful substances, and negatively impact our digestive system.
Opting for healthier cooking methods like steaming, baking, or sautéing helps preserve the nutritional integrity of the ingredients and their prana energy while enhancing their flavors.
7. Artificial food coloring
Vibrant and enticing, artificial food coloring has found its way into numerous processed products.
But, Ayurvedic teachings suggest avoiding these synthetic colorants, which can have adverse effects on sensitive individuals, especially children. Some consequences include allergic reactions, hyperactivity and behavioral issues, and sensory overload.
Plus, they totally lack nutritional value and are potential carcinogenics.
Utilizing natural alternatives like fruits, vegetables, and spices adds color to your plate while nourishing your body with vital nutrients and antioxidants.
8. Artificial flavor enhancers
Artificial flavor enhancers, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), can deceive our taste buds while wreaking havoc on our health.
When we take an Ayurveda approach, instinctively, we steer clear of these synthetic additives.
They can cause adverse reactions, like headaches, digestive disturbances, and allergic responses. Embracing natural flavorings like herbs, spices, and aromatics allows us to relish the true essence of food without compromising our health.
9. Microwave popcorn
Microwave popcorn, a popular snack choice, is one of the foods you shouldn’t eat since it harbors hidden health risks.
For example, the bags used often contain perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which can migrate into the popcorn during heating, causing reduced immune function and increased susceptibility to infections and diseases.
A much better option is choosing air-popped popcorn or preparing homemade alternatives for Pitta or Kapha dosha, using organic corn kernels and ensuring a healthier and more satisfying snacking experience.
10. Protein powders
While popular among fitness enthusiasts, protein powders are typically ultra-processed products that can have potential harmful effects on our health.
Some of them contain additives, artificial sweeteners, and thickeners that can disrupt digestion. These additives may cause bloating, gas, and discomfort in sensitive individuals.
Many protein powders are derived from common allergens such as dairy, soy, or gluten. Individuals with allergies or sensitivities to these ingredients may experience adverse reactions like skin rashes, hives, or digestive issues. Acne can also get worse when consuming them.
11. Vegan meats
Since vegan meats try to mimic the taste and texture of animal-based meats, they have gained popularity among people following plant-based diets.
However, these “foods” heavily rely on processed ingredients to create their meat-like texture and flavor, like isolated proteins, additives, and preservatives. Regular consumption of highly processed foods can contribute to health issues such as inflammation, digestive disturbances, and nutrient imbalances.
Further, since they enhance flavor and preservation, vegan meats frequently contain high amounts of added sodium. Excessive sodium intake results in increased blood pressure, water retention, and an elevated risk of cardiovascular problems for individuals who are sensitive to sodium or already have hypertension.
12. Excessive salt
Salt is an essential component of our diets and when used in moderation, it can enhance the flavors of our recipes.
But Ayurveda warns against excessive salt intake because it disrupts the delicate balance of our bodily systems and can aggravate all doshas.
Opting for natural, unprocessed salts like Himalayan pink salt or sea salt in small quantities allows you to savor the flavors while supporting your body’s overall equilibrium.
13. Trans fats
Artificial trans fats are one of the foods you shouldn’t eat. They are often found in processed snacks, baked goods, and fried foods, and are detrimental to our health.
Ayurveda cautions against these unhealthy fats, as they can increase the risk of heart disease, inflammation, and other chronic conditions. Opting for natural sources of healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, and seeds, promotes cardiovascular well-being and supports overall vitality. Make sure you consume regularly the fats that are best for your individual constitution.
To learn more about the foods that can pacify your body type, take a look at my list of foods for your dosha.
14. High-fructose corn syrup
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a commonly used sweetener in processed foods and beverages, poses significant health risks.
Ayurveda advises against its consumption due to its detrimental effects on metabolic health, weight gain, and insulin resistance. Choosing natural sweeteners like maple syrup, coconut sugar, or raw honey supports stable blood sugar levels and promotes a more balanced approach to sweetness.
15. Refined grains
Refined grains, such as white flour, white parboiled rice, and processed cereals, are on the list of the foods you shouldn’t eat, as they have undergone extensive processing, stripping them of their natural fiber, nutrients, and prana.
Instead, Ayurveda urges us to opt for whole grains like quinoa, basmati rice, brown rice, buckwheat, and whole wheat, which retain their nutritional integrity and provide sustained energy. Entire grains nourish our bodies and support a healthy digestion.
16. Artificial preservatives
Artificial preservatives are ubiquitous in processed foods, extending their shelf life but compromising our health in the process.
When we start practicing Ayurveda, we feel the urge to read labels more diligently and avoid foods containing preservatives like BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene).
These synthetic antioxidants have been linked to various health problems, like oxidative stress, cellular damage, an increased risk of chronic diseases, and potential hormonal disruption.
Choosing fresh, organic foods and preparing meals from scratch empowers us to nourish our bodies with pure and wholesome ingredients.
17. Hydrogenated oils
Hydrogenated oils, commonly found in margarine, shortening, and many processed foods, are artificially altered fats that can harm our cardiovascular system and contribute to chronic inflammation.
Ayurveda advises against their consumption, highlighting the importance of embracing healthier alternatives. Examples include olive oil, coconut oil, and ghee, which heal and nourish our bodies.
18. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have become a subject of concern in the realm of nutrition.
It is essential to avoid consuming genetically modified crops and their derivatives as much as we can, due to potential risks to our health and the environment.
Opting for organic and non-GMO foods safeguards us against the uncertainties associated with genetically engineered crops. This small change can allow us to honor our bodies and support sustainable agricultural practices.
19. Store-bought fruit juices
Despite their appealing packaging and claims of nutritional value, store-bought fruit juices are one of the foods you shouldn’t eat.
For instance, their excessive sugar content can lead to weight gain, an increased risk of diabetes, tooth decay, and many metabolic issues.
They also lack dietary fiber, which is crucial for proper digestion, promoting satiety, and maintaining stable blood sugar levels.
Without the presence of fiber, fruit juices can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar, potentially causing energy crashes and cravings. In addition, processing and pasteurization of fruit juices can result in a loss of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
20. Milk and white chocolate
White chocolate used to be my favorite treat when I was a child.
But now I know not all chocolate is created equal, so I’ve decided to stay away from it because it lacks the beneficial properties associated with cacao.
Milk chocolate is less nutritious and contains more milk and dairy fat than dark chocolate. While white chocolate is the worst in terms of health benefits. It is loaded with sugar —a 3 oz. serving has 50 grams of sugar (that’s over 12 tablespoons!) — provoking tooth decay and cavities. Moreover, these are calorie-dense foods, a crucial factor that can hinder our weight management goals.
These are the foods you shouldn’t eat. But to make your Ayurvedic lifestyle sustainable, create a clear action plan to gradually eliminate them and, if necessary, work with an Ayurvedic practitioner to help you stick to your goals.
Ayurveda reminds us of the significance of a whole, unprocessed diet, emphasizing the vibrant flavors and nourishing qualities it can offer. It encourages us to opt for fresh, locally sourced ingredients that align with our body type, promoting optimal digestion, balanced energy levels, and overall well-being.