In Ayurveda, we give a great deal of emphasis on avoiding the intake of improper food combinations. In fact, this unhealthy habit is said to be one of the main causes of digestive disorders and diseases of all kinds. This list can be a bit lengthy and overwhelming to follow, however, especially if you are new to the basic principles of food combining. Before you give up altogether, you may be surprised to find out that eating improper food combinations on occasion can be acceptable, as long as awareness and intelligence are used to lessen the undesirable effects.
When utilizing the many “food rules” of Ayurveda, it is always important to receive them in a balanced manner, as trying to follow them 100% all of the time can be extremely stressful and lead to burnout, resentment, and potentially giving up on your efforts altogether. These factors go against one of the main principles of Ayurveda which is to work with each individual separately to meet their specific and current needs; this can easily be done by using the appropriate modifications when needed.
If you are working towards removing an improper food combination(s) from your daily diet or you simply have an occasion that these unhealthy combinations are inevitable, using the listed guidelines below will allow you to enjoy them once in a while without disturbing your digestive health. Before moving on to the good stuff, however, here is a quick review of some of the main food combinations to avoid. Please note that the combinations that are capitalized are said to be more detrimental than the others and therefore will be a bit more important to avoid overall.
Click here for a printable copy of this chart (great for your refrigerator!).
7 Tips on How to Eat Improper Food Combinations Properly
NOTE: Some of these guidelines can be utilized together; the more recommendations you put into practice at any given time, the better the result will be!
1. If your Agni (digestive fire) is strong, the occasional improper food combination will not be harmful.
If your digestive fire (aka Agni) is vital and strong, then eating an improper food combination on occasion will not upset this powerful force. However, if one has a strong fire but begins to welcome in these unhealthy food combinations in excess, this will in time weaken the fire and create toxicity in the system. Therefore please avoid letting these occasional combinations become part of your daily life!
On the contrary, if you already are experiencing a sluggish, weak fire or any chronic digestive imbalance, then it will be important to be fairly strict on following these food rules until the Agni is strong and digestive health has been established.
2. Eating an improper food combination on occasion is much less harmful than consuming them on a daily basis.
If you love your fruit smoothie with some kale or your beans with cheese, then taking these types of improper food combinations once in a while will not wreak havoc on your health or your digestion. Decide which food combinations you miss the most and make room for some “intelligent cheating” here and there. Of course, if they begin to sneak back into your daily life, this is when a bit more strictness will be needed. Otherwise, enjoy your treats in moderation and remove any stress or guilt around them!
3. Avoid overeating when taking in any improper food combinations.
Since the digestive fire will be working a bit harder to break down these improper combinations, it will be necessary to avoid overtaxing this force further by eating in large or excessive quantities. If you are indulging in an improper food combination, make sure to only eat until your capacity, leaving some space for the digestive juices and Prana to flow. Keeping the meal small and simple will undoubtedly allow greater ease of digestion and result in fewer negative effects.
4. Take a digestive appetizer before the improper combination is consumed.
If you are aware that your meal or snack contains an undesirable food combination, you can easily reduce the negative effects by taking a digestive aid before eating. This will spark the digestive fire, getting it ready for the food to come. Digestive aids are great additions to any diet but can be even more vital at these times.
Directions: About 15 minutes before eating the improper food combination, take your digestive aid of choice. If this is forgotten before the meal, then one should take the herbal medicine directly after eating.
Some examples of digestive aids include:
- Agni Elixir
- Digestive Tonic Tinture
- Trikatu Churna with honey
- Ginger, lime, and honey appetizer (get recipe here)
- Extra strong ginger tea (get recipe here)
5. Add digestive spices and ghee to your food to reduce the negative effects of the improper combination.
Spicing up your meal with some digestive spices and ghee is an effective way to reduce the unwanted effects that improper food combinations can bring. These Ayurvedic cooking essentials will strengthen the digestive fire while simultaneously helping to break down the food. For example, if you decide to indulge in a smoothie containing fruits, nuts, seeds, and greens, then adding in a heap of ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric will be a great addition! Similarly, if you would like to eat your chicken with brown rice, make sure to add some Agni Churna and ghee to the dish for ease of digestion and ultimately better health!
Click here to purchase Agni Churna.
Click here for our digestive spice blend recipe.
Click here for our homemade ghee recipe.
6. Food that is cooked together will get along better together!
By cooking the improper food combination in the same pot, the foods form a bit of comradery and become easier to digest together. Cooking these undesirable combinations in a meal that is well-cooked such as soup, stew, porridge, or a crockpot meal will ease the negative effects of the improper food combination even further (say compared to a sauté or stir-fry). When using this recommendation, add a bit of ghee and spice and you will have yourself a healthy, digestion-friendly meal!
7. Allow a bit more time after your meal to digest fully.
Improper food combinations are naturally harder to digest and therefore will require more time than usual to complete the digestion process. Knowing this, we should make sure to allow a longer intermission period between meals in order to honor this process and avoid creating toxicity in the GI tract. A general timeframe would be to allow at least 5-6 hours between meals, ideally without snacking in between. Sipping on hot water, ginger tea, Healthy Digestion Tea, or CCF tea during this time will be an added bonus and is highly recommended!
Being a perfectionist or purist around your diet when trying to follow the numerous food rules of Ayurveda can lead to unnecessary stress around an already complicated subject. Although it is of great importance to be fairly strict about eating healthy and in the proper manner, it is also a great ability to know how and when to allow room for play. If you are suffering from a chronic or severe digestive disorder this will be the time to be as strict and diligent as possible; however, once balance and health have been established there is a bit more room to “bend the rules”, as long as we do so using moderation, awareness, and intelligence.
Try my Digestive Tonic Tincture!
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What great advice! I really appreciate this sensible approach as well as the reference handout. Thank you! 🙏🏻 🙂
Thanks for writing in! I am glad you enjoyed the tips and hope you find them helpful. It is sometimes nice to know that we do not always have to be perfect, especially if we can find intelligent ways to work around the rules:)