Wrong Food Combinations

Graphic for Wrong Food CombinationsAs you’ve been learning about Ayurveda, you know how we stress the importance of digestion. Instead of, “You are what you eat” Ayurveda says, “You are what you digest.” That little saying really reminds us that the focus is not only in what we eat, but how we eat it, at what time, and which foods are best for us based on our individual make-up.

Food provides the basic building blocks for our entire physical and mental bodies. That’s it! Just food. You know that you feel better or worse depending on the quality of foods you’ve been eating. And because we are no dummies, we know that fresh veggies and fruits are better nourishment for us than a Cadbury Egg or bag of Doritos. We know that. It’s pretty much elementary nutrition and something we’ve known since we were kids. (I’m not here to take away your fun: Once a year, a Cabury Egg is not going to imbalance you. In moderation, sweeties are to be enjoyed and savored. But if you eat a dozen…yeah, that’s not good.)

So! Whatever we put in our mouths is proper nourishment…or not. And! We usually know the difference between the two.

But here’s something you probably don’t know. In Ayurveda, there are certain food combinations that should be avoided. While an annual Cadbury Egg won’t hurt you, the consistent practice of incompatible foods probably will imbalance your digestion (gas, bloating, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, etc.,) whether instantly or over time. So many people complain of digestion issues—it’s probably the number one complaint from my clients! I’m giving you the information not to be a huge downer, but to give you proper tools to help your tum-tum feel better and to healthify you!!

Wrong Food Combinations:
Dairy & Fruit. Fruit sours and curdles the milk in our stomachs. (my 9 month-old has been coming home after daycare spitting up because they are giving her banana or mango as a snack and then immediately milk. No bueno!)
Dairy & Fish. No cheese on that Filet O’Fish! (*wink* I know you’re not eatin’ Filet O’Fishes) Salmon with lemon, salt and pepper, little rice, little veggies is a good choice. Mm!
Dairy & Meat. Too heavy, murky, and way hard on digestion! Have meat with veggies
Eggs & Milk.
Milk should basically be consumed by itself.
You could have it as a snack in between meals or in place of a dinner if you’re not very hungry. You can have it with non yeasty grains, like cereal. No banana or strawberries on the cereal.
Fruit and fruit juice should be consumed by itself. Again, think of it as a snack.
No yogurt unless you turn it into a lassi. Mango lassi is not Ayurvedic!

As we approach warmer weather, we might be tempted by “smoothie” concoctions of fruit and milk/yogurt and maybe even of frozen yogurt shops with fruits. Unfortunately these don’t go together. And yes, that means Pinkberry. I’m sorry. Have caramel sauce instead. :p

If you look at the list, it’s not all that complicated and it’s already pretty intuitive. I mean, drinking milk with fish just sounds nast. If you really think about berries and milk or pineapple and milk, those combos seem a little strange too, right? For us Americans, the biggest challenge will be not to combine fruit and diary because that combo is everywhere! But if you remain conscious of that and just remember that fruits are eaten alone, I think you will find it simple. What do you think? Does this sound impossible living the way we do now? Or, have you noticed certain combinations irritate your tummy – if so, what are they? Would love your thoughts! xoxo!

24 Responses to Wrong Food Combinations

  1. […] whole milk, ghee, dates, bananas, mushy and easy-to-digest carbs. Favor warm foods. • Do not mix milk and fruit. Give fruit at least 30 minutes to digest before giving milk. • Do not mix yogurt and fruit. They […]

  2. Jess says:

    Hm…about the yogurt…I’ve always wondered about dairy-free alternatives such as cultured almond milk or cultured coconut milk. How would these be classified and would you be able to combine these more readily with things? Thanks!

    • Monica says:

      Hi Jess! Yep, it makes it better and more mixable (is that a word?) with other things. One thing you want to be mindful of, be sure your substitutes are not genetically or chemically altered. Make sure they are still pure. Sometimes the “healthy substitutes” can be mega-overly processed (soy is an example), which is actually worse for us than just eating the real food or making a new choice. That help? Thanks for your question!

  3. Kellee says:

    Also, sometimes the only way I can get my toddler to eat veggies is by putting broccli in some Mac n’ cheese. I try not to give her Mac N’ cheese often, but sometimes it is all she will eat. So I get the organic shells, And cut down on the packaged cheese and add a little fresh mozzarella. So that brings me to the veggie and dairy combo. That’s ok, right?

  4. Kellee says:

    Sorry of this question is redundant, but what about combining fruits and veggies? Like chopped apples in salad or kale and strawberry together in a smoothie? Also, do you have a complete food list to share? In your pitta comment threads I noticed you stated that all berries are considered sour and that spinach and almonds are pitta pacifying. This contradicts the list I got from James Bailey ( Ayurvedic practitioner and accupuncturest) via. banyan botanicals site, and another list I got from an Ayurvedic practitioner who did a section of my Ashtanga Vinyasa Teachers training (no, I don’t practice Ashtanga every day or teach that exact style for that matter- no bueno for a pitta dominate person). Anyways, I pay attention to the way my body feels after eating nuts and spinach (in moderation)and it responds kindly… I should just trust that feeling, but the pitta I me would love to Reference your food chart.

  5. anita says:

    I also use digestive enzymes when I eat certain foods, they seem to help, as I am without a gall bladder. I try to avoid greasy foods and use the ghee recipe from this site. any help with diet is appreciated.

  6. anita says:

    I have a question regarding bean sprouts, (mung) I think that is the correct spelling. I love to eat them and grow them myself. I am aware that they are hard to digest and when I stir fry them I add redpepper, soy sauce, and sesame oil. I eat them with jasmine rice. Can you give me some insight , Are they healthy or will they throw my vata off balance. Icrave them and may be missing something from my diet. I am working on trying to find the right foods for my vata personality and all this is new. Thank you

  7. alice says:

    So yes, I can answer my last question myself – so much new information lately that some occasionally gets lost on the way :P Fish+any kind of dairy=no good

  8. alice says:

    Thank you very much for answering :) I have been doing a little bit more research as well and the information that I have so far is that berries+animal protein is not good either :( (Does that include fish?) But I would very much appreciate having your point of view as well :)
    Now, if oatmeal is prepared with milk (resulting in oats cooked in/with milk) or pancakes made of batter containing milk, is it harmful to then have them with jam?
    Another combination I’m pondering on and can’t find an answer anywhere is fish (oven-cooked salmon or trout for ex.) combined with sour cream. I know that milk and fish shouldn’t be had together, but is sour cream different from regular milk.
    I apologize for so many questions and I totally understand if there’s no time to answer them.

    • Monica says:

      Hi Alice,
      I mean, it depends how often you have these combinations. The other thing, don’t over think it – if you are mostly eating correct combinations don’t worry about the random blueberry in your pancakes that you eat once in a while. Milk + oatmeal is not a terrible combination at all. Fish and sour cream is a bad combo because it’s fish + dairy. Those really don’t mix. Meat + fruit also don’t work. But again, once in a great while these combos will not hurt you – if they are a regular habit you will want to make some changes. Overall, make good decisions when you can control it and you’ll be fine. Does this help?

  9. alice says:

    Well, actually the question is about different jams and berry sauces in general (also apple sauce). Prepared with sugar and often eaten on toast or pancakes or with oatmeal – are these combinations allright? (Strawberry jam, raspberry jam, blueberry jam, black currant jam etc.) What about these? Thank you so much for answering.

    • Monica says:

      Hey Alice! Fruits + grains are ok! No problem there – the issue would be if there was butter + jam on your toast with a glass of milk. Or oatmeal with fruit and milk added. Does that help?! Thanks for the question!

  10. alice says:

    Hi! Do you know the answer to the following question (I haven’t been able to find it anywhere) – I am well aware that fruit should be eaten separately and not within a general meal, but what about berries? Is it okay to combine meat with for example black currant sauce (the sauce is cooked and mildly spiced)? I would greatly appreciate your insight :)

    • Monica says:

      Hi Alice! Berries are considered a sour fruit so combining with dairy is a no-no. Good question about the meat and berries. I’m not quite sure on that one! I’ll look it up in my notes and see what I can find.

  11. truthforall says:

    How about Brown basmati rice?? ;)

  12. Babita says:

    I have a question about combining dairy… you mention milk should be had alone. And yogurt is not ayurvedic at all. What about cheese? Please don’t tell me it shouldn’t be combined with anything either. As a vegetarian, cheese is a major component of finding food at restaurants. Pasta, quesadillas, on sandwihes…

    • Monica says:

      Hi Babita!
      Cheese is different because there are so many types of cheeses. Very sour cheeses (i.e. “stinky” cheeses like bleu, gorgonzola, etc.,) will increase pitta and kapha. So limiting those will help – especially during summer for pitta and spring for kapha. Overall, all things in moderation. If you are just having cheeses as your main source of protein, you will want to add some variety so that you don’t just eat cheese (I’m with ya…I looove cheese). I’ll turn this into a post because I don’t think you are the only one wondering :) xoxo

  13. Sam says:

    Wonderful article! can I please share it on shareayurveda.com ?

    Thank you!

  14. Kate says:

    Hi Monica, I generally find that fruit is well digested when cooked and combined with a grain in small amounts with spices. Something like brown rice with some cooked apple, cardamom and cinnamon with rice milk. What are your thoughts? I’ve been in a debate on what I like to recommend to clients… Thanks!

    • Monica says:

      Hi Kate!
      Thank you for your thoughts! Fruit and simple grains can be great too. Especially for vata folks during vata season when the fruits are cooked as you had mentioned. The spices are perfect too! Great combo! The one thing I would be cautious of is brown rice. Unless they have very strong digestion or soak the rice over night, brown rice is pretty tough to digest. It’s sticky like glue. Basmati rice is much more gentle and easy to digest, which is why Ayurveda uses it so much. So…depending on your client brown may or may not be the way to go. Just a little food (har har) for thought :) xoxo!

  15. Bill says:

    This was a great post! How’d I never see this website out there. FYI- Cadbury eggs are my favorite and I always go overboard on them around Easter. I always thought milk was wrong for almost every other food, but what do I know.

    Again, great job.

    • Monica says:

      Hey Bill! Thanks for the nice email! I’m glad you liked the post (and your Cadbury’s ;). You are correct – milk is not a great combo for most foods. It should really just be enjoyed on its own, as a drink. Thanks so much and have a super week!!

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