Very often various foods are served together with different tastes, energies and post-digestive effects. The problem with this is our Agni, the digestive fire, can get overloaded trying to do too many things at the same time. This results in the production of toxins in the body.
Pay attention to the foods that you consume together to make sure that your digestion stays strong. There are many foods that, when eaten separately, stimulate Agni and are digested easily. But some of those same foods, when eaten together, slow down Agni and cause digestive distress.
Here are some points that you should remember when cooking or eating.
Eat fruit on its own, preferably two hours before or after you have eaten something else.
Fruit should never be combined with any dairy products like milk or yogurt. Yogurt with fruit and granola is considered a healthy breakfast – but it is one of the worst things you can eat. It can wreak havoc on digestion. While the fruit and milk process in the stomach, the fruit can curdle the milk causing excess acid. A banana smoothie, where banana is blended with milk or yogurt, can change the bacterial mix in the intestines, and may even cause sinus congestion or allergies.
Milk and melon together in particular should be avoided because milk has laxative properties and melon is a diuretic. Melon combined with carbohydrates or starchy foods is also bad for digestion. Melon is digested very quickly, and carbs tend to take more time. So the fructose in the melon ends up not getting digested properly.
Fruit and cheese is also often served together as an appetizer or a dessert… bad idea!
Cheese is a dairy product and will have the same effect on digestion as milk does in combination with fruit. Cheese is difficult to digest and can cause constipation, so cheese in general should be avoided.
And fruit, even on its own, is not good for dessert. It’s better to eat fruit before a meal, waiting a bit to digest, or as a snack in between meals.
Ice cream is not great for you anyway. It’s cold and hard to digest. But add fruit to it and it’s even worse. And for dessert it’s downright awful. Ice cream will totally put out that digestive fire that is so needed to help digest your meal.
Meat and dairy should never be eaten together. But we see this combination in western diets all the time: cheeseburgers, pepperoni pizza, and chicken enchiladas to name a few!
Meat is heating and milk is cooling so this is a bad combination. They contradict one another, upsetting Agni and producing toxins, or Ama.
Fish counts as meat and is not good to eat with dairy products. Think of all those cream sauces that are served over fish, or fish and clam chowders. And Tartar sauce is dairy based. Tartar is often served alongside fish and chips all the time. Avoid this combination!
Uncooked honey, or raw honey, can be beneficial in Ayurveda for many conditions. But cook it and you get the opposite effect.
When cooked, honey digests very slowly and it becomes this sticky gunk that clings to membranes and clogs channels producing toxins. Yuck. So don’t put honey in your hot tea, or have a hot drink while you’re eating something with honey on it.
Ghee and honey are a delicious combo – but they should not be served in equal proportions. Ghee is cooling and honey is heating – so pick which one you want more of.
During a meal, water should be served warm or at room temperature. Small sips can help with digestion. Ice water, as is often served in restaurants, puts that digestive fire right out. You can ask for water without ice and with lemon. Or you may prefer hot water with lemon.
When food is fresh, it has a certain intelligence. It knows where to go and what to do in the body.
The longer food sits, the more it loses that intelligence or vital energy. Plus it gets cold in the refrigerator, then you end up heating it up in the microwave, and it’s a pale shadow of what it was when you started out. So avoid eating leftovers if you can. And if you must eat leftovers, heat them up on the stove and add some ghee and spices to it.