WHY IT MATTERS:
According to Ayurveda, strong digestion is the key to optimal health. Combining certain, incompatible, foods in the same meal can weaken digestion, cause fermentation in the digestive tract, and result in bloating, gas, and the accumulation of toxicity or ama. Not good. To understand Ayurvedic food combining it’s important to understand that in Ayurveda, every food has it’s own taste, heating or cooling effect, and post digestive effect. Combining foods with different effects can tax the digestive system so knowing which foods to avoid in combination is essential.
Keep in mind that following Ayurvedic food combining best practices can feel overwhelming at first so listen to your body. It will tell you which food combinations work and which don’t. A good place to start is by making the switch to eating fruit alone. And as always, moderation is key. These food combining guidelines are just guidelines and everybody is unique, so above all else remember to enjoy your meal and don’t stress. Nobody’s perfect. Just do your best.
1. Avoid eating raw and cooked foods together.
2. Avoid eating fruit with anything else (especially citrus and dairy and milk and bananas) because fruit digests faster than most other foods and will ferment in your gut if eaten in combination with slower to digest foods. You can read more about the how and why here.
3. Avoid eating protein and starches together (think burgers, pizza, and…turkey and mashed potatoes) because they require different enzymes and different digestive processes to break down.
4. Milk is best consumed on its own. Especially avoid combining milk with yogurt and milk with eggs.
5. Avoid combining ghee and honey in equal proportions by weight.
*For a full list of incompatible foods check out this article.
1. Cooked fruit can be combined with other foods.
2. Milk is compatible with oatmeal, rice, almonds, and dates.
3. If you have strong digestion (agni) or are habituated to eating certain things in combination, the incompatible combinations listed above may not bother you.
4. Adding certain herbs and spices, like ginger and black pepper, may help aid digestion and lessen the negative effects of inappropriate food combining.
5. Cooking foods together makes them more compatible. Think soups and stews.
The science behind food combining is murky at best. While there is scientific evidence to back up certain components of Ayurvedic food combining, other tenants have been pulled from ancient Ayurvedic texts and the “why” isn’t scientifically evident. In my opinion, food combining is about mindfulness, so take what serves you and leave the rest.
Root Vegetable Mash with Miso Maple Butter
This root vegetable mash with garlic and miso maple butter is the perfect Thanksgiving side. It’s a great substitute for mashed potatoes if you’re looking for something a little healthier and a whole lot more interesting without compromising on the comfort food factor. Enjoy!
Serves 2-3 (as a side)
3 celeriac, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
4 parsnips, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup unsweetened cashew milk (or other nut milk of choice)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons chickpea miso
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Melted butter and sesame seeds to garnish
Bring a medium pot of well salted water to a boil. Add the celeriac, parsnips, and garlic and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to a food processor. Add the cashew milk, butter, miso, and salt and puree until mostly smooth. Taste and season with more salt as needed. Transfer the mash to a bowl, swoop with the back of a spoon, and garnish with melted butter and toasted sesame seeds.