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By Nadia Marshall
Food combining is something that is very rarely mentioned or considered in Western nutrition but it is super, super important in Ayurveda.
Every food has its own unique qualities and personality... and some foods just don't get along with each other very well. When forced to hang out together in your belly, they can behave very differently than they might if eaten alone, and not in a good way! This make sense to me intellectually but also intuitively. You can just feel it when you've eaten a bad combo...
Why? Because these combinations are not digested properly by your body so they create a lot of Ama (undigested food waste or toxins). When Ama is created, Agni (or digestion) is also eventually affected - it is dulled by the accumulation of Ama, like putting a wet blanket over a fire. Ama also accumulates in your tissues and channels, affects your tissue metabolism and your cellular nutrition and waste disposal. It contributes to that subtle 1-3kg weight-creep that most Westerners experience each year...
Bad food combinations explain a lot! Particularly, they shed light on why people who appear to be eating very healthily from a Western perspective keep gaining weight or at least can't seem to lose it. I know I used to have this problem when I followed an average Western diet!
So here they are. The Top 3 Ayurvedic Food Combination Rules:
1) EAT FRESH FRUIT ON ITS OWN
Fresh fruit is light and very easy to digest and it also ferments (goes rotten) very easily. If you eat it with food or after food that is heavier and more difficult to digest, it will stay in your belly too long and will over-digest. In short, it will turn the whole contents of your stomach into slightly fermented goo (aka Ama). You should particularly avoid eating fruit with (or just after) heavier foods like milk, cheese, yoghurt, meat, nuts and eggs.
So that means avoiding: fruit on your morning cereal, drinking fruit juice with meals, fruit smoothies, fruit in yoghurt, fruit and cheese platters and fruit salad with icecream for dessert! Even combining fruit with veggies in a juice is a no no in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda recommends eating (or drinking) fresh fruit on its own, between meals. It makes the perfect snack! Easy.
1) DRINK MILK ON ITS OWN
Milk is cold, heavy and difficult to digest. Because of these qualities, and its tendency to curdle, it does not combine well with most other foods. The exceptions are - grains, dried fruit and nuts. So it is fine to have in porridges, puddings, cakes, pancakes and on cereal.
As you may have gathered from the rant above, it definitely doesn’t combine well with fruit! So again, that means no fruit smoothies and no fruit on your porridges or cereals.
Ayurveda recommends drinking your milk warm and spiced as a chai between meals or as a bedtime drink.
3) DON’T COMBINE DAIRY WITH FISH OR SEAFOOD
Two types of food that should never be combined, according to Ayurveda, are dairy foods (including cream, cheeses, milk and yoghurt) with fish or seafood. This is because they have deeply antagonistic qualities.
This combo isn’t too common so is relatively easy to avoid. It simply means avoiding tuna mornay or tuna and cheese salads or sandwiches, smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels, seafood pizzas (but they’re just wrong anyway!) and yoghurt or cream sauces with fish or seafood pastas.
So there you have it!
If you follow these three very simple food combining rules, your waist line will thank you for it but so will your digestion. Once you’ve followed them for a little while you’ll really begin to notice the difference and will eventually wonder how you ever ate what you used to eat.
Of course rules were meant to be broken, from time to time (especially Christmas time) but if you follow them most of the time, these simple changes can help to transform your health... and the health of your family!
Let me know how you go...
Agni - the digestive fire.
Ama or Aama - undigested food waste, toxins.
Ojas- the foundation of our immune system and longevity.
Dhatus - the tissues of the body.
Srotas - the channels of the body.
Vata - the air/ether
intelligence in the body.
Pitta- the fire/water
intelligence in the body.
Kapha- the water/earth intelligence in the body.
Sattva- the quality of purity, intelligence, peace and love.
Rajas- the quality of
turbulence and activity.
Tamas- the quality of
dullness, darkness and inertia.
Rasa - the taste of a food (Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter, Astringent)
Virya - second level of digestion (either Heating or Cooling)
Vipaka - third level of digestion, the deep taste of a food (can be Sweet, Sour or Pungent)
Prabhav - the 'special effect' of a food or herb/spice
Rasa - also the name for plasma tissue
Rakta - blood tissue
Mamsa - muscle tissue
Meda - fat tissue
Asthi - bone tissue
Majja - nerve & bone marrow tissue
Shukra - sexual reproductive tissue