Yes, food choices matter. However, our obsession with certain types of foods that we call “super” or “clean” completely disregards the fact that some foods just don’t agree with us. So while we focus in on “super” or “clean” foods, we suffer through gas, bloating, indigestion or sluggish digestion.
In Ayurvedic nutrition, food choices is NOT about how super or clean the food is, but how well we can digest them.
“Nothing is right for everyone and everything is right for someone.” Dr. Marc Halpern
How well we can digest different types of foods depends on our constitutional nature.
So many times, I’ve heard women say, “Every time I eat broccoli I have a lot of gas and bloating, but I eat it anyway because it’s supposed to be good for me.”
I feel for them, because it’s a true dilemma, they’re trying to do the “right” thing and still they suffer!
There are 2 ways that you can identify the best food choices for YOU.
- By paying attention to how you react to different foods
- By looking at the type of digestive issues you have
In this blog, I’ll address the latter.
If you’re experiencing digestive issues like gas and bloating, indigestion, reflux acid and slow digestion, you’re not properly digesting the food that you’re eating. Faulty digestion leads to a build-up of waste in the body. If not addressed, this could lead to more imbalances like weight gain, abdominal fat, food sensitivities and so on.
Gas and bloating
Symptoms like gas and bloating are usually caused by too much raw and cold foods and drinks.
Many women who go on a diet experience these digestive issues because they eat a lot of salads and drink smoothies and raw juices.
Eaten raw, broccoli, kale and other cruciferous plants will increase the incidence of gas and bloating.
The remedy according to Ayurveda is to avoid completely or reduce these types of vegetables. But if you insist on eating them, eat them well cooked and add digestive spices like cumin, coriander and fennel. Reduce the amount of raw juices and add fresh ginger or simply drink warm teas. Yes, you can still eat a salad but rather than making the salad the meal, have a cup at the end of the meal.
The best food choices for people struggling with gas and bloating are:
- Cooked vegetables like beets, carrots, leeks, okra, acorn squash, winter squash, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.
- Avocado, and lightly dry roasted nuts like almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds.
- Cooked oats, quinoa, rice.
- Buttermilk, kefir, sour cream and yogurt.
- Baked apples, apricots, cantaloupe, coconut, cherries, fresh dates, figs, grapefruits, grapes, peaches, pears, pineapple, strawberries and tangerines.
- Mung beans and tofu
Indigestion and reflux acid
Symptoms like indigestion and reflux acid are usually caused by too much sour/acidic foods.
One of my clients recently wrote: “I’m writing because I am experiencing symptoms of reflux again. Feeling of a lump in my throat and slight hoarseness. Ugh. I know why… while on vacation, my Pitta was doing what it does and I overindulged on so much-eating. I was more than 75% full. I heard you in my head while in Mexico overeating. Lol! I knew I was in trouble. I was also overdoing the mimosas which I never drink because the orange juice is too acidic for me. Grrr.”
I loved it because as a client, she immediately knew what was causing her symptoms and she knew how to remedy them. That’s the kind of knowledge and independence that Ayurveda gives you!
Along with acidic foods like oranges, tomatoes and especially tomato sauce/soup, yogurt, dry cheeses, vinegar, you want to reduce or avoid hot spices (cayenne, black pepper, chili powder, etc), hot peppers and hot sauces.
The best food choices for people struggling with indigestion and reflux acid are:
- Artichokes, asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, kale, leafy greens, well cooked mushrooms, peas, pumpkin, squash, zucchini.
- Barley, white Basmati rice, millet, oats.
- Cottage cheese, cream cheese, ghee (clarified butter), milk.
- Coconut flakes, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
- Apples, avocado, blueberries, cantaloupe, coconut, dried fruit, figs, grapes (black ones) and limes.
- Lentils, chickpeas, mung beans, split peas, tofu.
Symptoms like sluggish digestion and a feeling of fatigue after eating are usually caused by eating too much salt, sugar and fat as well as heavy foods.
In Ayurveda, animal protein like meat, fish, dairy products, eggs and seafood, grains like wheat, oats and rice and vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and squashes are considered heavy.
In order to remedy these symptoms, you want to reduce the amount of fat, sugar and salt in your diet, temporarily avoid heavy foods as well as increase spices like cumin, coriander, fennel, ginger, black pepper, cayenne pepper and chili pepper, cinnamon and cardamom.
The best food choices for people struggling with a sluggish digestion are:
- Artichokes, asparagus, green beans, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, celery, kale, lettuce and other green leafy vegetables, peas, spinach and radishes.
- Amaranth, barley, Basmati rice, buckwheat corn flour and quinoa.
- Nut milk like almond milk, rice milk
- Pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
- Dried fruits, apples, cherries, cranberries (unsweetened), grapefruit and pomegranate.
- Mung beans, red lentils, tofu and split pea.
I deliberately choose not to add animal foods, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have them in small quantities. I also didn’t add wheat. If you have a wheat sensitivity, I encourage you to watch my video here where I speak about this specific subject.
Food Choices, Food Habits and Food Combining
Along with food choices, you also need to take into consideration food habits and food combining.
As my client wrote, overeating was one of the reasons why she had acid reflux. I’ve also found that women who experience gas and bloating have a tendency to skip meals which increases the symptoms. And eating when upset is another reason some of us experience sluggish digestion.