How often do you hear the saying “Eat local in-season food”? It is one of those sayings that we hear about a lot, but without a clear indication of the ‘Why’ behind it. In Ayurveda, it is high up on the list of ways to help keep you at optimal health and wellbeing, so let me explain why.
When we eat seasonal local produce, we are helping our Body and Mind to align with the Earth and our natural environment. This food has the current energy of the season it is produced in, which then helps our own energy to customise to the current season. We as humans are part of the natural eco-system and the natural laws of the earth. Which means that we get affected by the seasons just like how the plants and animals do. In our modern-day world, we have lost this connection, especially when it comes to our diet. We can eat produce all year round, regardless of the time of year or season. While some might think that is great – I mean who wouldn’t want mangoes all year round right? They are delicious! This way of consuming food is having negative effects on our body and mind.
Let me explain why…
By eating local, fresh, seasonal food, we are fueling our body with food high in nutrients, rather than the depleted food that has been sitting in storage for months before hitting your supermarket shelves. This food, is low in Prana, aka Life Force, and it is often loaded with chemicals and waxes to keep them looking fresh.
With our modern-day food system, it means we can eat foods like for example tomatoes all year long, but that doesn’t mean we should. Nature has everything figured out for us and provides us with the food needed within that season.
For example, Oranges are best between June – October in Melbourne, with its high Vitamin C and warming energy, this fruit is naturally designed for us to consume during winter to help fight off touches of flu and colds and keep us warm.
Not sure what is in season? The Seasonal Produce website HERE has a great month by month list of seasonal fruit and veggies that they put out. Or just hit up your local farmers market, or try growing a few of your own fruit and veg!! Nothing tastes better than a homegrown carrot or freshly picked apple!!
In our modern day society, especially here in Australia, we LOVE our food. Our social connections are dominated by food. Catch up for brunch? (avo smash anyone?) How about an alfresco dinner with family and friends – fire up the barbie (BBQ) and bring on the potato salad. Or even just some popcorn at the movies or a takeaway coffee on our morning walk. Food is a huge part of our social life and our life in general. We love our food.
But the question is:
“Is our food loving us back?”
The problem with our “foodie” culture – especially with the rise of the insta-foodie; we are more concerned whether our food looks amazing, rather than if it will make us feel amazing. There is so much information out there telling us what to eat, how to eat it, and what not to eat. The problem is: so much of this advice is conflicting. Like seriously, where do you start and who do you believe? Back in the day, we were told that drinking soft drink was good for us (seriously…) and that oil was bad for you, but now it is good for you? It is no wonder we are confused. My biggest advice when it comes to our food is trusting your intuition. Tune into your body and notice how food makes you feel. Do you feel sluggish after eating, or do you feel satisfied and energised? Another thing that can confuse us in choosing what to eat, is all the diets and fads that we get bombarded with daily. Do I go Paleo or Vegan? Should I try the Ketogenic diet or go all Raw? A thing I truly love about Ayurveda is that does not have a one-size fit all approach to health and diet. We are all individuals, with our own personal genetic and energetic makeup. This means that what might work well for your friend or partner, won’t necessarily work for you.
One thing we often do not consider when thinking about how healthy food is for us is the combination of the food. We often think about the nutritional value and how much protein vs carbs there is, which is important of course. But thinking about what foods we are actually combining together to form our delicious healthy meal, is just as important. Not all foods should be eaten together. In Ayurveda, we call these the “wrong foods” combination or “incompatible foods”. These foods should not be eaten together, as they can cause toxins to build up in the body, or cause things like indigestion etc. Whether we are eating out or making our meals, it is important to keep these food combinations in mind*.
* Quick side note: Something I have noticed people do when discovering these food-combinations is, that they become so fixated on avoiding them, that they create stress and guilt in their relationship with food. Please note these are guidelines, and to not punish yourself if you do have a combination on this list from time to time. Remember our thoughts and energy are just as important as our diet, if not more important.
Incompatible / Unhealthy Food Combinations
Lemon should not be consumed with yogurt, milk, cucumbers and tomatoes.
Grains and Melons – Melons digest faster than the heavy grains – which can cause indigestion and ama.
Milk and Meat Products – Any type of meat (fish, beef etc) should not be mixed with milk. Milk is cooling while meats are heating.
Honey – Honey should only be taken uncooked. According to Ayurveda, when you heat honey, it turns into a toxin (ama). It also weakens/destroys enzymes, vitamins, minerals, etc.
Milk/Yoghurt with fruits – unless cooked (such as stews apples and pears). Fruits digest at a different rate from dairy products, which can cause indigestion and ama.
Milk and Banana. Yes, I know this will be harder one, especially for smoothie lovers! However together these two lower Agni (digestive fire) and produce Ama (toxins). This can cause allergies, congestion, coughs and tiredness to occur.
Milk and Melons – Melons are a fruit that should nearly always be consumed by itself.
Vegetable starches and Fruit – Fruit is a simple sugar, while starches are a complex sugar – which means they will digest at different times. Avoid eating these together. eg. Potatoes with fruit.
Nightshades (which are eggplants, potatoes, chillies, tomatoes etc) are not to be consumed with melons, cucumbers, milk + milk products.
Eggs should not be eaten with meat, banana, yogurt, melons, cheese, fish or milk.
Corn should not be eaten with fruit.
Salt and milk together should be avoided due to opposing qualities in the two.