There is a famous saying in Hindi, which translates to:

"In a day -- A person in Yoga (Yogi - SAtvika) eats 1 time, A Consumer (Bhogi - RAjasika) eats 2 times and and a Sick (Rogi - TAmasika) person eats 3 times [or more]".

Probably this is a folklore.
However, according Bhishma, a righteous person should eat twice:

Two times have been appointed by the deities for human beings to take their food, viz., morning and evening. During the interval one should not eat anything. By following this rule about eating, one is said to observe a fast. [Anusasana parva]

  • What do other scriptures say about total meals per day (1, 2 or more)?
  • Many medical practitioner & gym trainers promote for 6 small meals against 2 full meals for everyone -- common man or bodybuilder. Is it ok?
  • If twice eating is prescribed then out of breakfast, lunch and dinner, which has to be skipped?
  • vedabase.com/en/sb/7/12/5 Sep 25 '17 at 10:34
  • 1
    Yes will try to post, But actually this is the only verse I found , so answer will be incomplete then, but surely will try :) Sep 25 '17 at 10:49
  • if we look at Ayurveda texts like Charak Samhita , here he is actually recommending us to to take the quantity and no. meals according to prakriti of individual. Also it varies according to Tri-Doshas and during sickness etc, and varies according to seasons , but unfortunately the direct answer i.e no. of meals to be taken on all these conditions is not given. :) Sep 25 '17 at 13:20
  • 2
    yes, eating exactly twice a day (morning & night) is equivalent to upavaas (fasting). similarly joining with spouse on only prescribed days is equivalent to brahmacharya (celibacy). Of the 3, breakfast has to be skipped. after madhyanika & aradhana (ijjai) which should be done around noon time, food is to be consumed. similarly, after sayam-sandhya and night has fallen, dinner. eating multiple small meals gives lot of work to digestive system, so not good. that saying is also correct - what it means is, only Rogi cannot sustain on 2 meals due to poor digestion, so he HAS to eat 3.
    – mar
    Sep 25 '17 at 23:27
  • @ram & SwiftPushkar .. Pretty good insight. Why don't you post an answer. BTW why do you feel breakfast has to skipped. According to guidelines in India (& world) breakfast is the most important meal. Why can't dinner & lunch be merged to evening meal?
    – iammilind
    Sep 26 '17 at 2:11
What do other scriptures say about total meals per day (1, 2 or more)?

For a Grihastha (Householder), Dharma Shatsras has prescribed to take food two times, in Morning and in Evening. But if one has already taken excess of food in morning, he should not eat second time (in evening).

Apastamba Dharma Sutra, PRASNA II, PATALA 1, KHANDA 1

  1. He shall eat at the two (appointed) times, (morning and evening).

Vishnu Smriti, Section LXVIII

  1. Let him not take a third meal (over and above the two regular meals in the mornings and evenings), nor let him ever take unwholesome food. He must eat neither too early, nor too late, and he must take no food in the evening, after having fully satiated himself in the morning.

Manu Smriti, Chapter 4

न भुञ्जीतोद्धृतस्नेहं नातिसौहित्यमाचरेत् ।
नातिप्रगे नातिसायं न सायं प्रातराशितः ॥ ६२ ॥

He shall not eat anything from which oil has been extract ed; he shall not commit gluttony; he shall not eat very early in the morning, nor very late in the evening; nor in the evening, if he has eaten in the morning.—(62).

And for a Vanaprasthi (Hermit), Dharma Shastra has prescribed one time meal only.

Manu Smriti, Chapter 6

नक्तं चान्नं समश्नीयाद् दिवा वाऽहृत्य शक्तितः ।
चतुर्थकालिको वा स्यात् स्याद् वाऽप्यष्टमकालिकः ॥ १९ ॥

Having collected food to the best of his ability, he should eat it at night, or during the day; or he may do it at every fourth time, or at every eighth time.—(19).

Please check the commentary of Medhatithi for explanation of fourth time or eighth time.

Vishnu Smriti, Section XCV

  1. He must eat at night.

  2. He may eat after having fasted entirely for one day, or for two days, or for three days.

Many medical practitioner & gym trainers promote for 6 small meals against 2 full 
meals for everyone -- common man or bodybuilder. Is it ok?

From the above verses, it is clear that taking 6 small meals in a day is not OK.(This is my understanding)

If twice eating is prescribed then out of breakfast, lunch and dinner, which has to be 

From the above verses, it is clear that one should only eat in Morning and Evening.


Assuming standard sunrise & sunset at 6am & 6pm, the day is divided into different parts for different activities:

  • 4.24am - 6 - brahma muhurtham (actually 2 muhurtams, since 1 muhurtam = 48 minutes) - snanam, sandhyavandanam

  • 6 - 8.24 - pratah kalah - veda adhyanana (learning)

  • 8.24 - 10.48 - sangava kala - danam (both giving & taking), items for puja

  • 10.48 - 1.12 - madhyanika kala - madhyanika sandhya, tarpana, vaisvadeva, ijjai (bhagavad aradhana/neivedyam), manushya yagna (feeding athithis), finally bhojana (if no sraddham on that day)

  • 1.12 - 3.36 - aparahna kala - sradhham, purana adhyanana, veda adhyapana (teaching)

  • 3.36 - 6 - sayam kala - snanam, sandhyavandanam

  • 6 - 7.24 - bhojana

  • 7.24 - 9.48 - bhoga
  • 9.48pm - 4.24am - nidra

Source - http://www.kamakoti.org/hindudharma/part19/chap10.htm

Above is ideal way of living, for brahmanas. For modern days, instead of full-blown-heavy breakfast, we can have milk with jaggery, or buttermilk, or pazhayadu (previous night's left over cooked rice that was immersed in water), or fruits like banana that was offered to Bhagavan previous day.

Same above menu for evening 'tiffin'. This reduces the amount of cooking house ladies have to do, the utensils they have to clean, the kitchen they have to tidy up, cos its unnecessary burden on our mothers, sisters, wives etc.
Avoid dosa, idli, chutney, upma, bhel puri, pani puri, samosa, ice cream etc. every day, unless these items replace dinner.

There is a 4th part of that folklore:

  1. eka (1) bhojanam - yogi (saint)
  2. dvi (2) - bhogi (enjoyer)
  3. tri (3) - rogi (diseased)
  4. chatvari (4) - drohi (traitor)

Eating only twice a day = you get benefits of upavaas (fasting)

Joining with wife only on prescribed days = you get benefits of brahmacharya (celibacy)

You might have heard story of Krishna and Durvasa claiming to be nitya brahmachari or nitya upavaasi. They are bhagavan and maharishi, so their actions are spiritual without material desires or attachments. But if a layman asks how they can make those claims, above two methods give shastric allowance for fasting & celibacy.

  • 1
    Nice answer. It will be good if you use bullets & numbering for better formatting.
    – iammilind
    Sep 26 '17 at 15:46
  • i'm not very good at formatting, feel free to edit
    – mar
    Sep 26 '17 at 15:47

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