Ayurveda and Food Combining
Even when eating appropriate foods for your dosha and following food combining principles, it’s still important to listen to your body.
Ayurvedic philosophy believes in wellness from within, so how we eat is an essential component of mind and body health. Ayurvedic principles of food combinations work to improve digestion. This is important because incompatible food combinations result in short-term problems, such as bloating and tiredness, but if not resolved can also have more serious health repercussions.
Different foods are digested at varying rates and also require different enzymes for adequate digestion.
According to Ayurveda, foods have three characteristics:
- Taste (rasa)
- Energy (virya)
- Post-digestive effect (vipaka)
Eating a variety of foods with these different characteristics together can overload digestive energy and the enzyme system. This causes undigested foods to ferment and produce toxins, called ama in Ayurveda. Eating simple, whole foods of only two or three types in any one meal is best. It’s ideal to eat a wider variety of foods across different meals, not within the same one, for good nutrition.
Benefits of eating compatible food combinations include:
- Boosted energy levels
- Improved skin health
- Healthier digestion for a healthier weight
- Improved nutrient uptake
- Reduced unhealthy cravings
- Healthy elimination
Food combinations that are best avoided
Milk should not be consumed as part of any food combination. Consume it alone, warmed, with the addition of ghee if desired. Alternatively, add honey if milk is not heated. Dairy and fruit are an unsuitable food combination. The exception is eating stewed fruit with dairy.
It is best to eat fruit alone, which is particularly true for melon. Eat fruit 20 minutes prior to consuming anything else, ideally in small quantities if eating fruit raw.
Avoid eating beans with fruit, dairy, and proteins such as eggs, fish, and meat. Beans are better consumed with vegetables, nuts, and grains.
Bread should be eaten alone. Processed breads can be problematic due to larger quantities of gluten which are difficult to digest. Breads made from less refined wheats, like spelt, or traditionally made sourdoughs are best, for easier digestion.
The key is to have only one protein source per meal. This stands for both milk-based and meat-based proteins.
Helpful hints for improved digestion
- Drink a glass of warm water and ginger prior to a meal
- Sip tepid water throughout a meal
- Chew slowly and mindfully
Even when eating appropriate foods for your dosha and following food combining principles, it’s still important to listen to your body. Certain constitutions will be more, or less, sensitive to particular food combinations. Don’t feel pressured to rethink your entire diet at once. Slow changes brought about by your new awareness of food combining will result in a more natural transition to new eating habits.
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