Prepping for the Ayahuasca Diet? Here are the Foods to Avoid and the Foods to Eat

Prepping for the Ayahuasca Diet? Here are the Foods to Avoid and the Foods to Eat

The ayahuasca diet (or dieta) is a traditional part of an ayahuasca experience. It is a set of dietary and lifestyle rules that many shamans, indigenous communities, and retreat providers recommend you follow before, during, and after ayahuasca ceremonies.

However, the ayahuasca diet can vary depending on the ayahuasca retreat, and some retreat centers don’t have a clear recommendation to follow it at all. There may be justifiable reasons why aspects of the ayahuasca diet should be followed, although others disagree about whether all components of it are necessary.

An Overview of the Dieta

Ayahuasca-using indigenous tribes in the Amazon basin believe you need to follow a particular diet and lifestyle if you want to consume ayahuasca. These tribes include the Shipibo, Yawanawa, and Napo Runa.

The mestizo shamans of Peru refer to the ayahuasca diet as the dieta while the members of the Napo Runa tribe of Amazonian Ecuador call it ayuno, which means “fast” in Spanish.

The ayahuasca diet does not require complete fasting, but it does involve abstaining from certain foods and activities. You are meant to give up certain foods and habits that negatively influence your physical and mental state.

Recommended restrictions can last anywhere from 3-5 days prior to your ayahuasca retreat to 14 days before and after it. If you attend a multi-day retreat in Central or South America, you will be sticking to the ayahuasca diet for the duration of your stay.

Foods To Avoid

Ayahuasca retreat centers may differ slightly in the foods they recommend you avoid eating before, during, and after the ceremonies. However, the list of such foods typically includes:

  • Dairy
  • Peanuts
  • Fermented foods (sauerkraut, fermented tofu, kimchi)
  • Soy sauce
  • Dry sausage
  • Chocolate
  • Dried fruit
  • Fruits like citrus fruits, mango, and pineapple
  • Pickled foods
  • Red meat
  • Yeast extracts and yeast (most bread)
  • Vegetables like spinach, avocados, tomatoes, radishes, leeks, onion, and garlic
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Oil and fried foods
  • Chilies and spicy food
  • Black pepper

Beverages To Avoid

The dieta also includes commendations to avoid drinking certain beverages, including alcohol (beer, wine, ale, spirits) and any drinks containing caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks).

Activities To Avoid

According to the dieta, you should refrain from all sexual activity (including masturbation) when preparing for your ayahuasca retreat, as well as during and after it.

What You Can Eat On The Ayahuasca Diet

The ayahuasca diet may appear quite restrictive, and you may be wondering what food and meals you can eat as your prepare for the ceremonies, as well as what meals you might be served at the retreat.

Here’s a list of foods you can eat while sticking to the ayahuasca diet:

  • Animal protein: Eggs (hard-boiled, poached, or scrambled), organic free-range chicken, and light, wild-caught fish such as sole, tilapia, bass, trout, halibut, or snapper.
  • Grains and legumes: Quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, beans, lentils, wheat, kamut, and spelt.
  • Vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yucca, yacon, beets, jicama, carrots, broccoli, arugula, lettuces, cucumber, and powdered maca root.
  • Fruits: Berries, bananas, apricots, peaches, melons, grapes, apples, and pears.
  • Nuts and seeds: Raw almonds, raw cashews, raw walnuts, chia seeds, raw shelled hemp seeds, and unsalted nut butter (except peanut).
  • Seasonings: Fresh herbs (basil, thyme, oregano, dill, etc.), ginger, turmeric, and non-spicy spices like cumin and coriander.

You should expect to eat meals at an ayahuasca retreat that are more simple and basic than you might normally be used to. Many may find the dieta restrictive, although it is still certainly easy to prepare tasty meals with the restrictions in mind.

The ayahuasca diet is clean and nutritious, so you won’t feel like you’re literally fasting and forgoing foods that provide energy. In fact, by following this diet, you may feel much healthier and more energetic than you did before, as you will be cutting out some foods that can make you feel lethargic. The ayahuasca diet is also compatible with vegetarian and vegan diets.

Traditional Reasons For Following The Ayahuasca Diet

People belonging to indigenous societies of the Amazon believe that following the dieta puts a curandero or student of curanderismo (healing/shamanism) on good terms with plant spirits and plant teachers. These are spirits that provide knowledge, teachings, and healing to people.

In return for the sacrifices made following the dieta, plant spirits are said to teach, guide, protect, strengthen, or endow special abilities to the person.

The terms of the dieta, such as how long to follow it and how strict it is, are negotiable. The curandero or student claims to communicate with plant spirits in order to agree on these terms. The dieta will last longer than if you were to join an ayahuasca retreat. For a healer or shaman apprentice, the dieta can last for months or even years.

Even if you are not training to become a shaman, there are still traditional reasons given for following the dieta. These include becoming more sensitive to working with plant spirits, showing the spirit of ayahuasca that you are serious about the experience (through self-discipline and sacrifice), and cleansing yourself physically and emotionally, so you are more open to insights.

Are There Any Good Scientific Reasons To Follow The Ayahuasca Diet?

If you don’t believe in plant spirits or a diet affecting your relationship with them, you might want to know if there are scientific reasons to follow the ayahuasca diet.

Many of the foods to avoid are high in tyramine. This is a compound that stimulates the release of norepinephrine — a hormone that increases blood pressure and heart rate. As we have seen, ayahuasca contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), found in caapi. However, MAOIs can block norepinephrine’s absorption.

So, if you eat foods high in tyramine and consume ayahuasca, it is believed that this can cause a surge in norepinephrine, resulting in hypertension (high blood pressure). The symptoms of this reaction include nausea, occipital headache, and even intracranial hemorrhage. Foods particularly high in tyramine include those that are fermented, desiccated, aged, or overripe.

Nevertheless, it is not certain that tyramine and the harmala alkaloids in caapi (which act as MAOIs) interact in a way that could lead to a hypertensive crisis (blood pressure surging to an unusually high level, resulting in a high risk of complications).

For example, members of the UDV don’t follow these dietary restrictions. This is because the church doesn’t believe the risk is significant.

Sam Woolfe

Sam Woolfe

View all posts by Sam Woolfe

Sam Woolfe is a freelance writer based in London. His main areas of interest include mental health, mystical experiences, the history of psychedelics, and the philosophy of psychedelics. He first became fascinated by psychedelics after reading Aldous Huxley's description of the mescaline experience in The Doors of Perception. Since then, he has researched and written about psychedelics for various publications, covering the legality of psychedelics, drug policy reform, and psychedelic science.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Explore Psychedelic Therapy Regions