AYURVEDIC FOOD COMBINING
Lets take a look at Ayurveda food combining and some of the many benefits..
Ayurveda, or “science of life,” is an ancient healing system that supports health through balancing energies. Foods, activities, seasons, and even times throughout the day all have different energies. When energy is balanced, it supports health, but an imbalance of energy can lead to illness. Ayurvedic food combining is rooted in supporting this balance.
According to Ayurveda, “When the diet is correct, medicine is never of any need.” In this case, a “correct” diet refers one that helps balance an individual’s condition through the kinds of foods eaten, the ways they’re prepared, and how they’re combined.
Specific combinations of food are thought to have a negative effect on agni, or “digestive fire,” leading to poor digestion and leaving the body prone to disease and disorders. Other food combinations have a more positive effect on agni, boosting health.
To strengthen agni, Ayurveda recommends eating all the colors of the rainbow, including all six tastes, or rasas – sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, and astringent – and combining food mindfully.
Each food in a meal brings its own qualities. For example, food is considered heating or cooling and either difficult or easy to digest. Certain combinations go well together based on their qualities as well as season, time of day, quantity consumed, nutrients, and similar rates of absorption. Ultimately, Ayurvedic food combining attempts to balance each quality in a meal so one doesn’t overpower another.
Here are some examples of combinations thought to strengthen agni:
Beans + Grains, Vegetables, Nuts, or Seeds
Tip: Make a grain bowl with beans, fresh greens, and walnuts or a bean-carrot soup topped with pumpkin seeds.
Animal-Based Proteins + Vegetables
Tip: For a quick, nutritious dish, make a sheet pan meal with your choice of
animal protein and cabbage wedges.
Starchy Carbs + Vegetables
Tip: Serve roasted sweet potato with broccoli florets, peppers.
Vegetables + Anything (Except Milk or Fruit)
Tip: If you like to pair vegetables with a cream sauce, experiment with making one from cashews or almonds.
Ayurveda suggests there are also multiple incompatible combinations based on a variety of factors, including how foods are processed, their potency, quantity, and the time and season they’re ingested.
According to the Ayurvedic perspective, not everyone will have a reaction to incompatible food combinations, in this way, it acknowledges bio-individuality when it comes to diet. However, certain food combinations are thought to weaken agni and contribute to disease and disorder over time.
Here are a few examples of foods thought to weaken agni:
Eggs + Dairy or Meat
Tip: If you like to add cheese to your eggs for extra flavor, play around with different spices instead. Consider cayenne, garlic powder, turmeric, pepper, or smoked paprika.
Animal Protein + Starch
Tip: Instead of rice, place your animal protein on a bed of sautéed vegetables or cut it up and add to a vegetable soup.
Starches + Fat
Tip: Top your baked potato with salsa instead of butter or sour cream.
Animal-Based Protein + Animal-Based Protein
Tip: For dishes where more than one type of meat is used, like meatballs, choose one and consider adding peppers to boost flavor.
Bananas + Milk
Tip: If you tend to include bananas and milk in your smoothies, consider swapping the milk for coconut water or a nondairy milk.
Beans + Cheese
Tip: When serving burritos or tacos, make cauliflower “cheese” or opt for vegetables instead of beans.
Fruit (Especially Melon) or Milk + Anything
Tip: Enjoy fruit on its own as a snack.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Ayurvedic lifestyle, click here
Counteracting Incompatible Combinations
While improper food combinations may decrease agni, there are plenty of ways to help offset potential effects. Here are some Ayurvedic ideas for supporting digestion and boosting agni:
- Cook consciously. Consider the energy and intention you bring to foods you cook. Enjoy the process of creating beautiful food!
- Experiment with spices. For example, add cooling cilantro to spicy foods. Spices can provide digestive balance. Salt also supports digestion.
- Add spices and herbs that support your dosha – Vata, Pitta, or Kapha.
- Eat mindfully. Take your time and avoid eating with distractions. Tune in to how you feel before, during, and after eating.
- Chew food thoroughly. Proper chewing helps facilitate digestion.
- Drink room temperature or warm water. Stay hydrated between meals, and take small sips of water during meals.
- Have lunch be your largest meal of the day. This is the time when agni is strongest.
- Stop eating before you’re over-full. A helpful rule is to eat until you’re about 80% full.
- Avoid eating too close to bedtime. Sleep is the time for the parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”). If you spend all night digesting, your body won’t spend enough time resting.
- Enjoy eating. Remember that pleasure is a valuable aspect of holistic nourishment!
- Create space for movement. Physical activity stimulates digestive processes.
Even though many of the recommendations to counteract incompatible food combinations are thousands of years old, they are still useful tips to help support gut health, maintain a healthy weight, reduce inflammation, and encourage mindfulness in the diet.
If you have gut concerns or gut issues, and would like some further help outside of the Ayurvedic lifestyle approach, click here