As the times of festivities approach, especially in Indian subcontinent and also the world over, various delicacies are planned. Especially the various desserts and prominent among them besides the conventional and regional-specific is various fruit laced preparations like fruit salad!
And speaking about fruits, I am routinely asked one question, “when is the best time to eat a fruit?”
Some also tell me that when they eat fruits, they suffer heaviness or even acidity.
On the other hand, the social media is always abuzz with some ‘free advice’ on matters of health.
But then today I am going to highlight how fruits should NOT be eaten and what Ayurveda maintains…
Fruits are recommended for eating separately. Ideally there should be at least 45 minutes gap between eating a fruit and eating some other food. This applies to people of robust health. Older people, people suffering from ailments, even minor, should enhance this gap to avoid further complications. While some fruits can be eaten as a snack all day long, some shouldn’t be eaten in the evening onwards at all.
We all know however, the most suitable time to have a fruit is morning: it should be the first food of the day and eaten on an empty stomach. This way it’s processed easily and empties the stomach for the next food. It’s not recommended to eat fruits for dessert as they start fermenting in the stomach while waiting for their turn to be assimilated. While many experts insist that there is no such thing as assimilation, I personally would not recommend it. While the young and healthy ones may not feel much of the difference, the ailing and the elderly or the weak ones would definitely complain of acidity or gases.
secondly, contrary to belief and practice fruits DO NOT mix with a variety of foods…
- Fruits other mangoes NEVER mix with milk or milk products
- Never mix fruits with meats & fish ( I am aware that fruits like mangoes, pomegranates are routinely used with poultry or even fish in many parts of India and overseas)
- When it is eaten with (or after) heavier foods, it generally stays in the stomach for too long, & is “overcooked” by our digestive juices and begins to ferment (think a bucket of ripe fruit sitting in the sun)
- From an Ayurvedic perspective, it is taught that fruit also combines poorly with certain vegetables
The inappropriate consumption of fruit is a pretty significant contributor in our diets. We get it wrong all the time, several meals a day, seven days a week! How wrong?
We have strawberries on cereal with milk; bananas on oats porridge; raspberries and ice cream on pancakes; cheese and apple snacks; fruit-filled yoghurts; banana smoothies; fruit juices with meals; fruit salads with cream after meals; and fruit platters with cheese at parties. If you think about it, when we eat fruit or fruit juice, we nearly always combine it with other foods, particularly heavier foods like dairy products and grains. From an Ayurvedic perspective, these smoothies, along with fruit/veggie juice combinations, are also confusing to the digestive fire and will result in indigestion and the production of ‘Ama’.
Conclusively, t he secret to healthy fruit eating is to keep it simple. Favour fruits that are local and in-season. Eat fruits whole, one at a time instead of complex, extravagant salads, juices or smoothies. This will ensure you don’t eat too much. It will also help you to get to know your fruit better. When you eat fruit on its own you can genuinely distinguish how each fruit tastes and feels in your belly, unadulterated. And, as you gently feel into the tastes and their effect on you, you can prepare fruits in different ways to make them more appropriate for your constitution – sprinkling desiccated coconut and cardamom over a banana, stewing apples and pears with cloves and cinnamon, squeezing a little lime over papaya etc.
But really, the most important thing is to enjoy your fruit eating – treat fruit as a treat! Savour each delicious morsel with mindfulness and gratitude, enjoying the sheer beauty of the experience. No fructose-guilt allowed!
Stay healthy, stay blessed!
Dr. Manjiri Joshi