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What to Eat and Drink before You Meditate — and What to Avoid

While there are no hard, fast rules about what you should eat before meditating, there are some broad guidelines you should follow. Big meals can make you drowsy, especially when they’re high in carbohydrates, so eat lightly if at all before you sit. Or wait at least one hour after a major repast.

You may even consider following the traditional Zen guideline to eat until you’re two-thirds full instead of bursting at the seams — in addition to aiding your meditation practice, it may not be bad for your waistline.

As for drinking (and smoking), here are a few suggestions: There are a few seasoned meditators who like to down a cup of cappuccino before they sit, and at least one Zen master who made it a habit of meditating first thing in the morning after drinking too much sake the night before.

But as a general rule, abstaining from mind-altering substances (for example, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and other recreational drugs) before meditating is best.

As your practice grows and you observe the benefits of being present and focused, rather than zoned out or drugged up, you may naturally diminish your intake. In fact, you may discover that meditation makes you more sensitive to your state of mind and provides a natural high that renders these substances unnecessary or obsolete.

If your primary motivation for meditating is to reduce stress or enhance your health, you may consider abstaining entirely from your substance of choice. Believe it or not, indulging only adds to the burden of stress you’re already experiencing.

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