We are all rather guilty of having some rather strange combinations of food that appeal even though it is perhaps not the best idea to put them together. However, we are not talking about foods that should not go together for culinary reasons, but rather they should not go together due to the fact that they could very easily make you feel rather unwell.
1- Fruit With or After a Meal
- Strawberries on your salad
- Mango salsa on fish
- Apple pie or fresh berries for dessert
Why: Fruit goes quickly through the stomach and digests in the intestines. When you combine fruit with foods that take longer to digest — such as meat, grains, and even low-water fruits like bananas, dried fruit, and avocados — it stays too long in your stomach and starts to ferment, because fruit, says Alder, really acts like a sugar.
Bhaswati Bhattacharya, MD, a holistic health counselor and physician in New York City, agrees. “Sugars are actually not easy to digest, according to Ayurveda, because they are heavy and require good fire to process. That is why fruits should be eaten alone.” Bhattacharya adds that fruits (especially fresh, seasonal fruits) are also “energetically purifying foods and complete foods,” and to combine them with proteins and carbs takes away their pure energy.
Instead: Eat fruit 30 to 60 minutes before your meals. When fruit is eaten alone on an empty stomach before a meal, it prepares the digestive tract for what’s to come. Water rinses and hydrates the tract, fiber sweeps and cleanses it, and enzymes activate the chemical process of digestion. That’s why, says Alder, eating fruit first makes the digestive tract “more capable of absorbing nutrition.” After a meal, wait at least three hours before eating fruit. It’s best to eat most fruits on their own — especially melons, because they are high in sugar and enzymes specific to each melon. If you want to experiment with food combining, eating fruit alone is a great first step.
2- Animal Protein Plus Starch
- Meat and potatoes
- Chicken and pasta
- A turkey sandwich
Why: Alder believes that if an animal protein is eaten with a carbohydrate, such as meat and a piece of bread or a potato, the different digestive juices will nullify each other’s effectiveness: “The protein will putrefy and the carbohydrate will ferment. The result is gas and flatulence in the system.”
Adding protein enzymes and carb enzymes into the same space and time basically makes everything “unclean,” says Bhattacharya, but she also admits that many people’s bodies are suited to traditional foods like rice and sushi, and, yes, meat and potatoes. And combinations like beans and rice, which make a healthy, complete protein, don’t apply to this “bad combo” category. “Rice and beans have a synergistic effect, promoting better assimilation of each when they are together,” says Bhattacharya.
Instead: Combine protein or starches with nonstarchy vegetables. If you do have to mix animal protein and starch, add leafy green vegetables to minimize the negative side effects.
3- Fats With Wrong Foods
- Olives with bread
- Tuna with mayonnaise
- Meat fried in vegetable oil
Why: Fats require bile salts from the liver and gall bladder to break down; mixing them with other digestive chemicals can cause distress. For example, large amounts of fat with protein slows digestion, notes Donna Gates, author of The Body Ecology Diet (Hay House, 2011). Bhattacharya says that fats and oils need to be combined according to the digestive fire of the person eating them. “If combined with foods properly, fats build a little fire and induce foods to be carried to the liver better,” she says. “Fats are to be avoided when the fire is too low in the gut, as they douse the fire.”
Instead: Gates recommends using small amounts of fat — particularly, organic, unrefined oils like olive or coconut — when cooking vegetables, grains, and protein. She also suggests that protein fats like avocados, seeds, and nuts should be combined only with non-starchy vegetables. Alder recommends always including a raw leafy green vegetable when eating fats.
4- Liquid With Meals
- Water during your meal
- Juice with your meal
- Tea right after your meal
Why: Water goes through the stomach in about 10 minutes. Juice takes 15 to 30 minutes. Any liquid in your stomach dilutes the enzymes your body needs to digest proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
Instead: Drink as much water as you wish at least 10 minutes before you eat. After eating, wait about an hour to have any liquid — or longer for a more complex meal.
5- Two Concentrated Sources of Protein
- Bacon and eggs
- Nuts and yogurt
- “Surf and turf”
Why: Concentrated proteins take a long time to break down, taxing the digestive system and depleting energy. In Ayurveda, the combination of different meats, or meats with fish, is to be avoided.
Instead: It’s best to eat meat in the last course of your meal. “The first course should not be meat; it should be light vegetables or protein. Meat should be the last course, as digestive fire and enzymes are at their peak,” says Bhattacharya. “Never wait more than 10 minutes between courses in the same meal. Or else the digestive appetite and enzymes start to shut off.” Alder says that if you have to eat two concentrated protein sources together, it’s best to add high-water-content vegetables such as onions, cauliflower, broccoli, or lettuce.
This post is excerpted from Experience Life. Click here to read the whole article.
6- Tomato and cheese pasta sauce.
This is another mix of foods that are extremely popular, but once again it is not the best combination for your stomach. The problem here is that the tomato is acidic in nature and you are generally not advised to mix this with starch. In addition, a number of people also state you should never mix acidic food with carbohydrates. This is something that will lead to your body having to put out a lot of energy to digest it leading to after-meal fatigue.
7- Beans and cheese.
If you love Mexican food, then you are probably used to eating beans and cheese and more than likely enjoy it. However, we are going back into the problem of this combination causing chaos with your digestive tract. This combination is going to lead to the production of a lot of gas and bloating and clearly this is something that is going to cause you a number of health problems as it is not the most comfortable of situations.
8- Bananas and milk.
This sounds as if it could be a very good snack to have, but the opposite is actually true. There are various experts that state that this combination is very heavy and some people argue that it produces some form of toxins, although this is certainly disputed. The problem is that it is also very difficult to digest as it will sit in the stomach for some considerable period of time. If you want to have a smoothie with this combination, make sure that the banana is as ripe as possible.
9- Sour fruits and yogurt.
This does sound as if it would be a nice combination, and indeed there are a number of reasons as to why you should not have this as a treat. It is important to stress that it is mainly sour fruits that is the issue here. The theory is that it can change the intestinal flora and that can lead to all kinds of stomach issues. It is also capable of changing your ability to digest food so it is going to sit there and require energy for your body to process it.
10- Tea + milk
Combinations to Reduce or Avoid
The following list highlights incompatible foods and offers suggestions for more appropriate combinations. It is meant to be a helpful guide, not an exhaustive list. In fact, you may be aware of other combinations that do not work for your body. Honor those instincts. Because this resource is meant to help you determine optimal combinations at a glance, there is some repetition. Combinations listed in all caps are particularly challenging.
|Incompatible Foods:||Supportive Combinations:|
|Beans||Fruit, milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, meat, fish||Grains, vegetables, other beans, nuts, seeds|
|Dairy||Depends on the type of dairy; see individual categories below.|
|Butter & Ghee||Butter may not combine with other foods as universally as ghee.||Grains, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, meat, fish, eggs, cooked fruit|
|Cheese||Fruit, beans, eggs, milk, yogurt, hot drinks||Grains, vegetables|
|Milk||Any other food (especially BANANAS, cherries, melons, sour fruits, yeasted breads, eggs, yogurt, meat, fish, kitchari, starches)||Milk is best enjoyed alone… Exceptions: rice pudding, oatmeal, dates, almonds|
|Yogurt||Fruit, beans, MILK, cheese, eggs, meat, fish, nightshades, hot drinks||Vegetables, grains|
|Eggs||MILK, cheese, yogurt, fruit (especially melons), beans, kitchari, potatoes, meat, fish||Grains, non-starchy vegetables|
|Fruits||Any other food (aside from other fruit) *Exceptions: dates with milk, some cooked combinations||Other fruits with similar qualities (i.e. citrus together, apples with pears, a berry medley, etc.)|
|Lemons||Cucumbers, tomatoes, milk, yogurt|
Note: lime can be substituted for use with cucumbers and tomatoes.
|Usually ok with other foods, if used in small amounts as a garnish or flavoring.|
|Melons||EVERYTHING (especially dairy, eggs, fried food, grains, starches) *More than most fruit, melons should be eaten alone or not at all.||Other melons (in a pinch)… But it’s better to have each type of melon on it’s own.|
|Grains||Fruit||Beans, vegetables, other grains, eggs, meat, fish, nuts, seeds, cheese, yogurt|
|Vegetables||Fruit, milk||Grains, beans, other vegetables, cheese, yogurt, meat, fish, nuts, seeds, eggs|
|Nightshades||Fruit (especially melon), cucumber, milk, cheese, yogurt|
Note: nightshades include peppers, eggplant, potatoes, and tomatoes.
|Other vegetables, grains, beans, meat, fish, nuts, seeds|
|Yes, some of these are staple combinations in many households. Pizza and a number of other beloved Italian dishes combine nightshades with cheese. And who among us hasn’t enjoyed beans with cheese at some time or another? Then there’s the fruit and yogurt taboo… So much for about 80% of all available store-bought varieties of yogurt; next time you indulge in a fruit-flavored yogurt, pay attention to how your digestion feels afterwards.|
In addition, there are some specific preparations that are challenging when combined with particular foods.
|Incompatible Combinations:||Supportive Combinations:|
|Hot Drinks||Mangoes, cheese, yogurt, meat, fish, starches||Most other foods are ok, unless the hot drink contains other foods (i.e. milk, fruit, almond milk, rice milk, etc.), in which case, reference that particular type of food.|
|Leftovers||Freshly cooked foods||Ideally, just other leftovers from the same meal… Preferably not more than 24 hours old.|
|Raw Foods||Cooked foods (especially in large quantities)||Other raw foods, ideally in small quantities.|