Eat This, Not That: Surprising Food Pairings for a Happy Belly and a Healthier You

Health problems related to the foods we consume are on the rise, and part of the difficulty may originate from eating foods together that shouldn’t be eaten at the same meal. Combining the wrong foods can lead to negative effects, such as stomach pain, indigestion, bloating, fatigue, and constipation, and possibly result in chronic illness. The ancient practice of Ayurveda, an Indian mind-body-spirit well-being concept based on balancing the three doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha), may hold the answer to this problem.

Balancing the Doshas through Ayurveda

The doshas are energies believed to govern all physical and mental processes and strongly affect an individual’s blueprint for health and fulfillment. The energy of each dosha changes in direct response to our actions. By eating foods in the wrong combination, we can unbalance this energy, become unwell, and produce toxins. For instance, fruit contains simple sugars that require little digestion and shouldn’t be eaten with foods rich in fat, protein, or starch that take a longer time to digest.

Here are some specific food combinations, common in the American diet, which you may want to avoid to remedy your digestive ills:

Avoid Cereal with Milk and a Glass of Orange Juice

Ayurveda recommends against combining grains and fruit. The acids in orange juice destroy the enzyme responsible for digesting starches present in cereal or oatmeal. Acidic fruits or juices can also curdle milk and stimulate mucus formation. Consume your orange juice or fruit at least 30 minutes before eating cereal.

Don’t Eat Bananas with Milk

This combination is popular in many smoothies, but it is actually one of the heaviest and most toxic-forming combinations. If you can’t give up this combination, try adding cardamom and nutmeg to stimulate digestion.

Foods to Avoid Consuming with Milk and Eggs

Milk and eggs should not be consumed with sour fruits, bread containing yeast, fish, or meat. Additionally, curd should not be consumed together.

Avoid Yogurt and Fruit

Mixing sour fruits with dairy—even cheese—can change the intestinal flora, produce toxins, and cause sinus congestion, cold, cough, and allergies. If you must eat yogurt, enjoy it at room temperature with honey or raisins instead. According to Ayurveda, never heat honey; doing so makes it toxic to your body.

Don’t Combine Tomato Sauce or Cheese with Pasta

Acids (tomato sauce) and starches (pasta) don’t work well together. Adding cheese increases the likelihood of digestive problems and after-meal fatigue because of the energy required to digest this meal. If you experience weak digestion, avoid cheese and tomatoes in general.

Do Not Combine Beans and Cheese

A typical meal at an American Mexican restaurant often includes beans and cheese, which can result in gas and bloating. In addition to cheese, avoid fruits, eggs, fish, milk, and meat when eating beans.

No Beverages While You Eat

Ayurveda suggests drinking 30 minutes before or after your meal rather than during, as fluids can disrupt the digestion of food. Warm water or room temperature beverages are easiest on the stomach, while ice-cold beverages and cold food are not recommended. Coffee is considered toxic and should be avoided.

Activate Your Gastric Juices before Eating

To get your gastric juices flowing before a meal, take a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, sprinkle with a few drops of lemon juice, and a couple of pinches of salt. This activates the salivary glands, producing the necessary enzymes to break down food for easier digestion and better absorption of nutrients.

Maintain a Calm State of Mind While Eating

Your state of mind when you eat is just as important as what you eat. If you are anxious, your stomach will not welcome food. Make your meals calm and enjoyable, resulting in a positive after-meal experience.