If you’ve tried to “eat the right things,” yet still experience digestive and weight issues, the way you are combining foods could be the issue. Some foods, like legumes and grain, are meant to digest in harmony with each other, while others, such as fruit, should be eaten separately from other foods as they digest at a different rate.
Eating good foods in poor combinations frequently results in weakened agni and reduced ojas, or vitality. Here are some basic tips to guide you, but ultimately your body is your best teacher. Use this wellness journal to track what you ate and how it made you feel. That way you’ll be better informed about what disrupts and strengthens your agni.
Seven simple guidelines for combining foods
1. Enjoy fruit as a separate meal
Why? Fruit digests quicker than most other foods. When you eat fruit with other foods, your digestion slows to accommodate the heaviest food. This results in fermentation in your intestines, causing gas, bloating and belching. Tip: Eat melons alone, as they digest even faster than other fruit.
2. Avoid too many heavy foods, such as legumes, cheese, yogurt and eggs, in one meal.
Why? Too many heavy foods can slow digestion and weaken agni. Tip: Have these items in separate meals, spaced 4 to 6 hours apart.
3. Avoid combining too many sour foods, such as lemons with yogurt or tomato.
Why? Too much sour in the digestive tract leads to indigestion and imbalances pitta dosha. Tip: enjoy the yogurt cut in half with warm water and spices to support digestion
4. Keep milk separate from sour foods (including bananas).
Why? The sour will curdle the milk in your digestive tract. Tip: We think of bananas as sweet, but their post-digestive quality is actually sour.
5.Eliminate yeast bread.
Why? Yeast upsets the natural fungal balance in your digestive tract and aggravates vata dosha. Tip: Try this recipe for chapati (flatbread) instead.
6. Keep dairy separate from potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and bell peppers.
Why? The tastes, energies and post-digestive effects are conflicting. For example, dairy is cooling and the others are warming. Tip: Eliminate these nightshades altogether, especially if you have joint pain. Try sweet potatoes or yams instead.
7. Avoid cooked honey.
Why? Honey becomes toxic and glue-like when cooked. Substitute maple syrup, sucanat or jaggery for baking. Tip: Honey in herbal tea is great (in fact, it helps with the absorption of the healing properties of the herb deeper into your tissues). Boil water and let cool for 10 minutes then add honey.