Whether it's quitting caffeine or alcohol before your trip, or continuing the dieta afterward, timing is important for making gentle transitions. Here's my advice for what foods to avoid, and which to eat when preparing for plant-medicine ceremonies.
What are Dietas?
Dietas are relationships that we enter into with a plant spirit. It may be a plant we know, or one we intend to meet. Dietas are also a relationship with ourselves and will reveal insights about us - to us. Like relationships, dietas often require effort and tending to in order to work well. There are several different types, or intensities, of dietas. Some include:
Dieting a plant*: This is a strict diet, often with intense fasting, and consuming only one plant other than water and white rice, for example. Dietas like this may last for months or longer and are commonly done in isolation in the environment where the plant is native (e.g. the Amazon). This is not the dieta type I advise for you in preparation for ceremony. :)
Dieta in preparation for ceremonies: This is a specific diet to help clear the body of toxins, habits, stagnation, energies and the like - and to prepare it for plant-medicine ceremonies. This dieta is often recommended a few weeks or a few days before ceremony. I strongly recommend being on the dieta without “cheating” for four to six weeks prior to ceremony. This is longer than typically advised but it can only help support your experience. Plus, it’s good for you. :)
Your everyday plant-based diet*: Not quite as strict as the Dieta in Preparation for Ceremony, this way of eating still serves some of the same purposes as the aforementioned dietas. It’s a relationship you are in with your self - body and mind - and plants, which we are dependent on for life. Minding that, tending to it, and considering that some sacrifices may provide rewards in other ways, may be inspiring.
*If you’re interested in learning more about these dietas, please contact Rachelle for a private session. The remainder of information here is intended for Ayahuasca and San Pedro ceremony preparation.
Dieta in preparation for ceremonies
Most importantly, leading up to the retreat, your diet and activities should not be a “crossing of energies.” Meaning, you will want to act and eat in a way that’s respectful of the journey you’re about to embark on. Making our bodies as free from chemicals/toxins as possible, and full of the intention we have set for the trip. This intention can take time to form (sometimes it doesn’t crystalize until ceremony, or afterward). But, living with it in mind and in body will help it become real.
On a practical note, it’s recommended to eat cleansing foods. That is, fruits and vegetables. Lots of fiber and light (not heavy) unprocessed ingredients. Go easy on the fat and minimize sugar as much as possible. Consider what your body digests well, and what makes you feel energized and happy, and eat that. Unless that’s Red Bull.
Also, your thoughts matter! Try not to think negatively about your diet or to fantasize about cheating. Remember, it’s a relationship.
Dietary + Behavior Restrictions 24 Hours+ Prior to Ceremony
Reminder, this is what I recommend beginning 4-6 weeks prior to the trip. You don’t have to, but January 1st could be a really good time to begin.
What to avoid:
Processed foods and canned/packaged products.
Pork and pork products. (Why? A combination of it being meat, often with preservatives or strange additives, historically avoided for safety reasons, and it contains tyramine*, which can interact with the plant medicine.)
*Tyramine is a trace amine derived from amino acid tyrosine. Blood-pressure related problems can result from ingestion of high quantities of tyramine-rich foods in conjunction with MAOIs, which ayahuasca is in part. Fun fact: low-tyramine diets are common prescriptions for resolving migraines.
- Meat that is not fresh* (smoked, canned, pickled, etc.) If you’re interested in vegetarianism, this could be an excellent time to try it.
*White meat chicken, eggs, and fish are okay and will be served on the retreat for those who eat meat.
Protein supplements (unless plant-based and entirely natural).
Yeast products (tofu, miso, soybean paste, soy sauce, kimchi). (Why? Because of their tyramine content.)
Excess of spices, sweets, pungent flavors, salt, sugar or fake flavorings.
Overripe avocados/fruits (to avoid spoiling or fermentation in the digestive tract) and preserved fruits (unless you know they’re only dried fruit, without preservatives or added color/sugar).
Dairy that is aged, unfresh/unlive. Coconut is okay, so are nut cheeses.
In large quantities: peanuts, raspberries, spinach, chocolate, caffeine. Some caffeine is okay and there will be coffee and coca tea on the retreat. (Why these foods? Tyramine content.)
- Sexual activity.
Optional: If you’re game, I would recommend the following regimen for the ultimate preparation:
Quitting caffeine (or getting down to 1 cup/day)
Sleeping with the sunrise/set
Experimenting with intermittent fasting
Remember: What we give up is a sacrifice to the plant spirit and an acknowledgement of our respect for the process. It’s also healthy and can only help the experience.
Medications to stop 2-6 weeks prior to ceremony:
MAOIs and SSRIs
Amphetamines (ephedra, adderall, etc.)
Anti-hypertensives (high-blood pressure meds)
Asthma / breathing meds. (Try Osha root for lung support and blood oxygenation at high altitudes.)
Antihistamines (try nettle tea instead)
CNS depressants (try skullcap tea or tincture instead)
Tobacco okay though not recommended
All recreational drugs
Herbs to stop 2-6 weeks prior to ceremony:
St. John’s Wort.
What to Eat:
Quality-fats, unprocessed foods, plant-based all the way
Lots of fruits and vegetables
Minimal meat / animal products
Your diet should reflect your gratitude and respect for plant medicines. Proper preparation strengthens your intention, faith in la medicina, and physical fortitude.